Rise in ‘dark tourism’ sees thousands make ghoulish visits to homes of killers like Fred and Rose West

Nick Reilly
Contributor
Fred and Rose West are among Britain’s most notorious serial killers (Picture: Police handout)

Thousands of people are reportedly visiting the spot where infamous killers Fred and Rose West lived every year.

The former property, located on Gloucester’s now infamous Cromwell Street, was demolished more than 20 years ago after the bodies of nine young women were discovered buried underneath the patio.

But it has since been demolished and turned into an alley – and reportedly attracts thousands of people every year as part of a bizarre trend known as ‘dark tourism.’

The morbid craze sees devotees paying visits to sites that have played host to some of the darkest moments in human history – including murders, executions, and natural disasters.

25 Cromwell Street is now an alleyway after it was torn down following the crimes of Fred and Rose West

Other popular destinations with dark tourists include the secretive despotic state of North Korea, along with Cambodia’s Killing Fields – where thousands of innocent people were massacred by the Khmer Rouge.

Most recently, the Japanese prefecture of Fukushima has also become a burgeoning dark tourism spot – after a earthquake and subsequent tsunami in 2011 triggered a huge nuclear disaster.

Documentary maker Chris Lloyd is currently making a film that explores the morbid pastime, and says that it appeals to the dark side of human fascination.

The Killing Fields in Phnom Penh, Cambodia (Picture: REX Features)

He told GloucestershireLive: ‘It’s something that appeals to the curiosity of everyone.

‘I know an accountant who does it and he has a wife and a family.’

Adrian Mitchell, who visited the former home after moving to Gloucester, said: ‘By the time I’d moved here, the house had been demolished so there wasn’t anything actually to see.

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‘But just the curiosity of coming here, seeing where everything took place, the fact this was a normal street and these were horrific crimes committed by somebody who is well known in the area, was just fascinating to me.’

Pyongyang has become an unlikely tourism site (Picture: Reuters/Damir Sagolj)

Fred West is believed to have carried out at least 12 murders between 1967 and 1987 – but committed suicide in HM Prison Birmingham as he awaited trial.

In November 1995, Rose West was convicted of 10 murders – and was handed a whole life tariff in 1997 by then Home Secretary Jack Straw, meaning that she will spend the rest of her life behind bars.