Prolific paedophile Jimmy Savile's Penthouse is being demolished, four years after his sickening crimes came to light. But it's not the first infamous address to be torn down. And while some houses of horror are raised to the ground, others are sold on, sometimes to unsuspecting new residents. In fact, the former homes of some of the most chilling characters in British history remain a source of grim fascination to many...
1. Lake View Court, Roundhay Park, Leeds
Disgraced Savile spent much of his time at his penthouse in Roundhay Park, Leeds, where he died aged 84 in 2011. The monstrous pop DJ was hailed as a modern-day living saint for his charitable work, until his long reign of terror was discovered after his death. A trusted and respected public figure, honoured by the Queen with an OBE and a knighthood, he used his celebrity status to groom and abuse hundreds of adults and children across the country, assaulting or raping them in television dressing rooms, hospitals, schools, children’s homes and his caravan.
His great fame meant he was able to conceal his evil attacks, and he remains one of the most notorious and prolific sexual predators of our time. When challenged by documentary maker Louis Theroux in 2000 as to why he claimed to hate children, his now sinister-sounding reply was, ‘It’s easier for me, as a single man, to say “I don’t like children” because that puts a lot of salacious tabloid people off the hunt.’
Work has already begun on the demolition of The Penthouse, which Savile bought in the 1970s. The flat is where Savile hosted weekly meetings with his inner circle, known as The Friday Morning Club. It’s alleged at least one victim may have been abused at the property. He died in the flat in October 2011, two days before his 85th birthday.
In 2013 it was bought by a company owned by the couple living in the flat next door for £250,000, who said it had been left in a ‘terrible condition’. The property seemingly changed hands again in early 2014 for £300,000, and planning permission was granted to flatten the top floor flat and build a new apartment.
2. Allt na Reigh cottage, Glen Coe, Scotland
Another former home of serial sex offender Jimmy Savile, this remote cottage was also once under threat of being torn down out of respect for the untold numbers of children he abused or raped. However, in 2013, this notorious address was sold to a builder planning to turn it into a family home.
3. 16 Wardle Brook Avenue, Hattersley, Manchester
This is the former home of notorious child killer Ian Brady, which was demolished in 1987 when the council found no-one was willing to live there. It was in this house of horror that, in the 1960s, he and his lover and accomplice Myra Hindley killed their last two victims 10-year-old Lesley Ann Downey and 17-year-old Edward Evans, after previously carrying out the depraved murders of three other children – Pauline Reade, John Kilbride and Keith Bennett – on Saddleworth Moor. Grisly voyeurs still come to gape at the space where the former, notorious house used to stand.
4. 6 Garden Lane, Heaton, Bradford
Peter Sutcliffe – dubbed the Yorkshire Ripper by press – is incarcerated in Broadmoor high-security hospital, serving 20 life sentences for the 13 murders and seven attempted murders he carried out in the 1970s and 80s. He lived here during the latter part of his killing spree. One journalist, reporting on the crimes for the Yorkshire Post, remarked how the property seemed ‘deeply spooky’ and said it reminded him of the Addams Family House.
5. Flat 23D, Cranley Gardens, Muswell Hill, London N10
This is the stomach-churning den of filth where serial murderer and necrophile Dennis Nilsen tried to dispose of three of his 15 known victims’ bodies. With no access to a garden at this horribly notorious address, Nilsen chopped up the young, gay men he’d lured home and murdered, and attempted to flush parts of their dismembered bodies down the toilet. It was the appalling stench coming from his flat that led to the gruesome discovery by an engineer and resulted in his arrest. The flat, which has had several subsequent owners, has been completely transformed but was up for sale last year at at least £100,000 less than other similar properties in the same area. On estate agent’s advert was emblazoned with a note in capital letters, saying: Buyers are kindly asked to research the history of this property.
6. 18 Victory Road, Derby
This is the ill-fated, notorious home of Mick and Mairead Philpott, who planned to frame Mick’s previous partner in a scam that involved setting fire to their house. Mick had been due in court next morning to face his former mistress Lisa Willis over access to his four children with her. The fire was an attempt to frame her for arson and win custody. But the scam resulted in the deaths of six of his and Mairead’s children. He and Mairead were convicted of manslaughter. Sentenced in April 2013, Mick Philpott is currently serving a life sentence with a minimum tariff of 15 years at HM Prison Wakefield. Mairead, who divorced him in prison, was handed a 17-year sentence. The house has since been demolished, and new homes were built on the site last year.
7. Mount Pleasant Cottage, Ceinws, near Machynlleth
This is believed to be the scene of one of the most heinous murders in recent times. On 1 October 2012, Mark Bridger abducted 5-year-old April Jones from outside her own home in Machynlleth. Bridger is thought to have sexually assaulted the little girl before killing and dismembering her and disposing of her body in various sites in the surrounding area. The only traces of her remains to have been found are spots of her blood at the cottage and tiny bone fragments, thought to be parts of April’s skull, discovered in Bridger’s log burner. Bridger is serving a whole-life tariff for abduction, murder and perverting the course of justice. His former home was demolished in November 2014.
8. 5 College Close, Soham, Cambridgeshire
Another appalling crime that horrified the nation was the brutal murder of best friends Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman in the summer of 2002, when they were just 10 years old. Their lives were taken in this house by Ian Huntley, the caretaker of their school, who was known to and trusted by the two little girls. For 13 days, Huntley kept quiet, allowing a search for the girls’ bodies to go on – even joining in himself. It transpired that he had lured the pair into his home before murdering them. He claimed both deaths had been accidental. However, he was found guilty of murder and received a life sentence with a minimum tariff of 40 years. The house was razed to the ground in 2004 and the land grassed over.
9. 50 Irvine Drive, Margate
This is the former home of the despicable Peter Tobin, who is currently serving three life sentences for the rape and murder of Angelika Kluk, 23, and the murders of Vicky Hamilton, 15, and Dinah McNicol, 18, between 1991 and 2006. It was in Tobin’s home that skeletal, mutilated remains of Vicky and Dinah were discovered buried in the back garden. Margate local authority subsequently renovated and refurbished the house rather than lose the opportunity of rehousing other families, and it’s believed to be currently occupied.
10. 25 Cromwell Street, Gloucester
Fred and Rose West are names that strike horror into everyone who remembers their appalling crimes of depravity. The married couple were serial killers who tortured and raped many of their victims and murdered at least 12 between 1967 and 1987. All the victims were female, with members of their own family among them. On 1 January 1995, Fred West hanged himself while on remand at Winson Green Prison, Birmingham, awaiting trial. He’d bragged that he’d murdered as many as 30 women. Rosemary West was jailed for life for the murder of 10 of their victims. It was in the garden and under the patio of this notorious address that many of the women’s dismembered remains were found. The house of horrors was torn down in October 1996 and replaced with a landscaped walkway, but the site still attracts mawkish visitors.
11. 39 Hilldrop Crescent, Islington, North London
Dr Hawley Crippen has been painted as one of the most notorious wife killers in history. He was an American homeopath, ear and eye specialist who came to England with his wife Cora in 1897. As his US qualifications were insufficient to practise as a doctor here, he worked as a distributor of medicines. After living at various London addresses, the couple moved to Hilldrop Crescent and took in a series of lodgers. Cora is supposed to have had an affair with one of the lodgers, and Crippen was eventually hanged for her murder on November 23, 1910 at Pentonville Prison after her dismembered remains were discovered in the cellar of their Islington house. The case has been disputed in recent years, with DNA evidence suggesting that the body in the cellar was not that of Cora Crippen. However, this new evidence has been insufficient to overturn the original verdict. Today, a modern block of flats stands on the site of the infamous Crippen house.
12. 10 Rillington Place, Notting Hill, London
Another shocking, historic case is that of Dr John Christie – a British serial killer active during the 1940s and early 1950s. On 15 July 1953, he was hanged at Pentonville Prison for the murder of his wife Ethel by strangulation after her remains were found beneath the floorboards of the front room at their Notting Hill home. He’d confessed in prison to murdering a further six women in the same manner at the property, two of whose remains were found in his garden and three of which were found hidden in a kitchen alcove. A year after Christie’s execution, Rillington Place had its name changed to Ruston Close, but number 10 continued to be rented out. Then, in the 1970s, after a film about the notorious address had been released, the whole street was demolished and rebuilt.