I love writing blogs. I love receiving comments. And I love replying to them. It's a fabulous part of the internet age that allows like-minded people to share ideas, thoughts and opinions. All of which are valid, unique and a pleasure to respond to. But...
...occasionally underneath any blog post I've written about Murder Mile Walks, I sometimes find a few odd comments, usually from a bored nobody whose sad little life revolves around chipping in their tuppence worth, a sour-faced troll with a beef about everything (rather than picking fault with their own personal failures), or pimply-faced teen who “objects to glorification of murder”… and yet – without an ounce of irony - has spent half their life playing sadistic shoot’em-up’s on the X-Box.
All who feel obliged to let me know - “Murder Mile isn’t in Soho, it’s in Hackney… actually” – having failed to realise that Murder Mile Walks is a company, that the capital letters mean it’s a brand, that the “murder mile” they’re thinking of is – to be pedantic – in Lower & Upper Clapton, and that – more importantly – that there is not just one murder mile… but many.
A “murder mile” is defined as a street, or series of roads, known for its disproportionate levels of crime, violence and murder, often issued arbitrarily by lazy journalists looking to turn an area into an easily-definable issue, or soundbite, without the need for actual statistical evidence.
The original Murder Mile was termed by British military personnel based in Cyprus during the 1957-9 EOKA campaign for Cypriot nationalist independence. Ledra Street in Nicosia – now a prosperous shopping district – proved so dangerous to patrol during British rule, that it was colloquially given the moniker of the “murder mile”.
The term “murder mile” has been used frequently – but not formally – in military parlance to describe an area of significant risk to soldier’s safety. During the British occupation of Aden (a port city in the Yemen), up until 1963, Main Road in Mualla became the “murder mile”.
Where-as in the 70’s and 80’s, the Antrim Road gained this nickname, again during the British occupation of Northern Ireland, during the trouble.
In the 1990’s, although no-one can determine when, why or who by, a series of conjoining streets running from Stamford Hill through Lea Bridge Roundabout to Clapton High Street was dubbed in the press as the “murder mile”, with many violent incidents in the Hackney borough attributed to the geographical anomaly. And although Hackney often appears in most lists of London’s ten most dangerous neighbourhoods, it has never been number one. That said, not one of the roads listed above has ever officially been given the name – Murder Mile…
…but there are a few intriguingly titled roads, courtesy of the fabulous Instagram site knowing as Sad Topography including:
Murder Island (Canada): named, either after French explorers found the island littered with human bones, following a huge battle between two Native American tribes, or after an stricken ship which was wrecked here, and found to be soaked with blood, the only survivor was one truly terrified woman.
Other real place names include: Murder Kill Road, Murderers Creek, Murdering Beach Road, Suicide Bridge Road, Shades of Death Road, Death Lake, Despair Island, Haunted Lake, a town called Die, Why Me Lord Lane, a village called Kill, Bucket of Blood Street, Dead Woman Pond, Road to Nowhere, End of the World, Misery, Pain, Hatred and a place called Nothing.
So, should anyone informs you where the real “murder mile” is, this should be your reply? "Murder Mile"… is in Soho, every Saturday & Sunday, at 11am, and it's bloody brilliant.
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a writer, crime historian and tour-guide who runs Murder Mile Walks, a guided tour of Soho’s most notorious murder cases, hailed as “one of the top ten quirky & unusual things to do in London” and featuring 18 murderers, 3 serial killers, across 21 locations, totalling 75 deaths, over just a one mile walk.
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a crime writer, podcaster & tour guide of Murder Mile Walks, hailed as one of the best "quirky curious & unusual things to do in London".
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Note: This blog contains only licence-free images or photos shot by myself in compliance with UK & EU copyright laws. If any image breaches these laws, blame Google Images.