Brick Lane

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Brick Lane street sign in English and Bengali
Brick Lane
Curry restaurants in Brick Lane

Brick Lane is a street in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, in the East End of London. It is part of an old area which includes Bethnal Green, Whitechapel, Spitalfields and Petticoat Lane.

Today, it is the heart of the city's British Bangladeshi community and is known to some as Banglatown.[1] It is famous for its many curry houses. It has a most interesting history.

History[change | change source]

Brick Lane gets its name from former brick and tile manufacture, using the local brick earth deposits, that began in the 15th century.[2]

Successive waves of immigration began with Huguenot refugees spreading from Spitalfields, where the master weavers were based, in the 17th century.[3] This started a connection with clothing which lasted for over three centuries.

The Huguenots were followed by Irish,[4] Ashkenazi Jews[5] and, in the last century, Bangladeshis.[6] The area became a centre for weaving, tailoring and the clothing industry, due to the abundance of semi- and unskilled immigrant labour.

Brewing came to Brick Lane before 1680, with water drawn from deep wells. One brewer was Joseph Truman, first recorded in 1683. His family went on to establish the sizable Black Eagle Brewery on Brick Lane.[7]

The Brick Lane Market was developed in the 17th century for fruit and vegetables. The Sunday market, like the ones on Petticoat Lane and nearby Columbia Road, dates from a dispensation given to the Jewish community.[8] The Brick Lane Farmers' Market opened 6th June 2010.

Emma Elizabeth Smith was viciously assaulted and robbed in Osborn Street, the part of Brick Lane that meets Whitechapel High Street, in the early hours of 3 April 1888. It was one of the first of the eleven Whitechapel Murders, some of which were done by the serial killer, Jack the Ripper.

In 1742, La Neuve Eglise, a Huguenot chapel, was built on the corner of Brick Lane and Fournier Street. By 1809, it had become The Jews’ Chapel, for promoting Christianity to the expanding Jewish population, and became a Methodist Chapel in 1819 (John Wesley having preached his first covenant sermon at the nearby Black Eagle Street Chapel). In 1898, the building was consecrated as the Machzikei HaDath, or Spitalfields Great Synagogue. In 1976, it became the London Jamme Masjid (Great London), to serve the expanding British Bangladeshi community.[9] The building is Grade II* listed.[10] Many Bangladeshi immigrants to Brick Lane were from the Greater Sylhet region. These settlers helped shape Bangladeshi migration to Britain; families from Jagannathpur and Bishwanath tend to dominate in the Brick Lane area today.[11]

References[change | change source]

  1. Spitalfields and Banglatown (London Borough of Tower Hamlets) accessed 1 Nov 2007
  2. 'Stepney: economic history', a history of the County of Middlesex: Volume 11: Stepney, Bethnal Green (1998), pp. 52-63 accessed: October 15, 2007
  3. Bethnal Green: settlement and building to 1836, A history of the County of Middlesex: Volume 11: Stepney, Bethnal Green (1998), pp. 91-5 Date accessed: 17 April 2007
  4. Irish in Britain John A. Jackson, , 137-9, 150 (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1964)
  5. The Jews, a history of the County of Middlesex: Volume 1: Physique, archaeology, Domesday, ecclesiastical organization, the Jews, religious houses, education of working classes to 1870, private education from sixteenth century (1969), pp. 149-51 Date accessed: 17 April 2007
  6. The spatial form of Bangladeshi Community in London's East End Iza Aftab (UCL) (particularly background of Bangladeshi immigration to the East End). Date accessed: 17 April 2007
  7. The Black Eagle Brewery, Brick Lane, Survey of London: volume 27: Spitalfields and Mile End New Town (1957), pp. 116-122 accessed: October 15, 2007.
  8. because their Sabbath was on a Saturday
  9. A brief history of Mosque to serve the expanding British Bangladeshi community in Tower Hamlets. Lucy Dixon (mytowerhamlets) accessed 15 Oct 2007
  10. Images of England — details from listed building database (205992) accessed 14 April 2009
  11. Michael Smith, John Eade (2008). Transnational ties: cities, migrations, and identities. Transaction Publishers. pp. 148-149.