For the Daily Mail in 1901 Dorset Street was “the Worst Street” in London.” The notorious stretch in Spitalfields was somewhere that “boasts a murder on average once a month, of a murder in every house, and one house at least, a murder in every room,” it wrote.
The authorities left the inhabitants by and large to their own devices. “Policemen go down it as a rule in pairs,” the Mail added. “Hunger walks prowling in its alleyways, and the criminals of to-morrow are being bred there to-day.”
Laid out in 1674 as Spitalfields expanded as London’s premier silk weaving district, Dorset Street was already starting to look ramshackle by the 18th century. And in the 19th century – when the trade was starting to fade away – is was dominated by sprawling, grimy common lodging houses that even covered former gardens so that landlords could squeeze even more people…
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