Ripper and Co Southsea: Opposition grows against new Jack the Ripper themed restaurant which featured on Radio 4 Woman's Hour

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A new immersive bar and restaurant, which will be set in Jack the Ripper’s bar, has received a lot of opposition in the past few weeks with some urging the owner to reconsider the theme.

Among those opposing the plans is a direct descendant of Annie Chapman, who was brutally murdered by Jack the Ripper.

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He grew up in the Portsmouth region and was appalled when he heard about the bar following an interview aired on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour which discussed the women murdered by Jack the Ripper.

Ripper and Co Southsea's signage.Ripper and Co Southsea's signage.
Ripper and Co Southsea's signage.

The hour-long show had a feature on the bar, which is located on Osborne Road, Southsea, and Nuala McGovern welcomed Hallie Rubenhold, the author of ‘The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper’, onto the show to discuss the immersive concept.

‘This is a real problem and it is a real problem with regards to how our culture understands Jack the Ripper and what it means, it’s a sort of joke, it’s a gag to some people, it’s a Halloween costume but the reality is this person, or persons, brutally murdered five, maybe more women, but certainly five we know of, five women, who were on the margins of society, who had addiction issues, who were living horrible lives, who were very vulnerable – and this person brutally murdered these woman and this caused ripples throughout their community – it was terrible for their families and they have descendants alive today and one of them, a descendant of Annie Chapman lives near Portsmouth.’

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The group opposing the bar says it goes against the Safer Streets initiative, which Portsmouth City Council led the bid for in 2021 and Portsmouth City Council is also accredited as a White Ribbon city which ensures women feel safe in the nighttime economy.

Councillor Kirsty Mellor, said: ‘Naming a bar after arguably the most notorious male killer of women is appalling. The name and theme of this bar seem likely to encourage negative conversations about violence against women and girls, lead to intimidation of women, and the normalisation of a culture where such violence is considered socially acceptable.

‘Having such premises in our city does not reflect our dedication to eliminating violence against women and girls; therefore, we urge you to take our concerns forward and act on them appropriately.’

Dan Swan, the owner of Ripper and Co Southsea, said: ‘We fully welcome and take all comments and feedback very seriously. Although there has been a lot of emphasis on the name of the venue, holistically speaking the venue is more based on traditional movie horror characters, with some contemporary favourites sprinkled in. This is primarily based on fictional characters, which has created a more immersive customer experience that we can’t wait to show people.

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‘The overall reaction of the bar has been met with excitement and positive comments.To receive such a response in a very difficult economic climate where popular venues both nationally and sadly locally are closing their doors forever is a testament to the amount of support we have been met with.

‘As of this morning, 4217 people have signed up to our booking system ready for bookings opening this week and this is going up by just under 500 people a day now with private hire enquires into 2024 already.

‘We will continue to work with any authority to ensure our guests have a safe, enjoyable experience, and we give out the best message to our followers and look forward to working with Portsmouth’s city council and exploring the suggested partnerships with local women’s charities going forward to help raise awareness in the near future. We hope to be able to provide more detail on this in the next few weeks.’

Councillor Charlotte Gerada said: ‘We feel, a Jack the Ripper-themed bar trivialises and opposes these aims for our city and is likely to play a role in making rape culture and gender based violence normalised and accepted.

‘Also, we must point out that a woman is, on average, murdered by a man every three days in the UK.’