Broadside on the 'Waterloo Bridge Tragedy'


The ‘Waterloo Bridge Tragedy’ refers to the 23 separate human remains that were discovered in a carpet-bag, close to one of the abutments of Waterloo Bridge in 1857. During the coroner’s inquest into the finds (reported to the eager public in full gory detail by the popular press) it was revealed that the ‘flesh had been roughly cut from the bones’ and that the bones themselves had been carefully sawn. The head, feet and hands, though, were all missing. Strangely, the physical evidence found in the bag also suggested that the remains had been ‘boiled and salted’ at some point after the body was dissected. No explanation for the discovery was ever found. 

This poster combines the salacious accounts of the discovery with another concern of the Victorian elite: prostitution and the trade in vice. In the absence of any clear perpetrator of the murder the author of this piece wildly speculates that the discovery was related to a brothel near the Waterloo Road, an area plagued by prostitution and which was associated with much of the lawlessness in the area.

Full title:
Murder will out. "Foul deeds will rise tho' all the earth o'erwhelm them from man's eyes." All classes should read the midnight deeds & mysterious doings at Madame Devereux's den of infamy, in Granby St., Waterloo Road, where the vilest assassins of London...
estimated 1857, Bloomsbury, London
Broadside / Ephemera / Illustration / Image
C H Spurgeon
Held by
British Library

Related articles

Murder as entertainment

Article by:
Judith Flanders
Crime and crime fiction, Popular culture

Looking at broadsides, cheap pamphlets and the works of Charles Dickens, Judith Flanders explores how crime in the 19th century – particularly gruesome murder and executions – served as entertainment in both fiction and real life.

Related collection items