Coordinates: 51°31′19″N 0°4′18″W / 51.52194°N
0.07167°W / 51.52194; -0.07167
Brick Lane street sign in English and Bengali.
Part of a series on the
History of Bangladeshis in Britain
History of Asians in Britain
Demographics of Bangladeshis
Demographics of Asians
Sylheti · English · Bengali
Culture of Bangladesh
Channel S · Bangla TV
East London Mosque
Brick Lane Mosque
Islam in England
List of British Bangladeshis
List of British Asian people
Brick Lane (Bengali: ব্রিক লেন) is a street in east
London, England, in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. It runs from
Swanfield Street in the northern part of Bethnal Green, crosses
Bethnal Green Road in Shoreditch, passes through
Spitalfields and is
Whitechapel High Street to the south by the short stretch of
Osborn Street. Today, it is the heart of the city's
Sylheti community and is known to some as Banglatown.
It is famous for its many curry houses.
1 Early history
1.1 15th to 18th centuries
1.2 19th century markets and their modern use
1.3 Religious groups
1.4 Bengali settlement
2 Land ownership and naming
3 Buildings of interest
5 In popular culture
6 See also
8 External links
Brick Lane Mosque, used first as a church and then a synagogue,
reflecting changing demographics.
15th to 18th centuries
Winding through fields, the street was formerly called Whitechapel
Lane. It derives its current name from brick and tile manufacture
started in the 15th century, which used the local brick earth
deposits. and featured in the 16th century
Woodcut map of London
Woodcut map of London as
a partially-developed crossroad leading north from the city's most
easterly edge. By the 17th century, the street was being developed
northwards from the Barres (now
Whitechapel High Street) as a result
of expanding population.
Brewing came to
Brick Lane before 1680, with water drawn from deep
wells. One brewer was Joseph Truman, first recorded in 1683. His
family, particularly Benjamin Truman, went on to establish the
sizeable Black Eagle Brewery on Brick Lane. The
Brick Lane Market
first developed in the 17th century for fruit and vegetables sold
outside the City.
Successive waves of immigrants settled in the area: in the 17th
century, French Huguenots expanded into the area for housing; the
master weavers were based in Spitalfields. Starting with the
Huguenots, the area became a centre for weaving, tailoring and the
developing clothing industry. It continued to attract immigrants, who
provided semi- and unskilled labour.
19th century markets and their modern use
In the 19th century, Irish people and
Ashkenazi Jews immigrated to
Jewish immigration continued into the early 20th century.
The Sunday market, like the ones on
Petticoat Lane and nearby Columbia
Road, dates from a dispensation given by the government to the Jewish
community in the 19th century. At the time, there were no Sunday
markets open because of the Christian observance of Sabbath. Located
at the junction of Cheshire and Sclater streets, the market sells
bric-a-brac as well as fruit, vegetables and many other items. In 2015
it was identified by police as the focal point of a trade in stolen
bicycles and bicycle parts, many taken from City of London employees
who had used "cycle to work" schemes. Alongside seven arrests, the
police also warned purchasers that buying bicycles or parts in deals
"too good to be true" could make them guilty of handling stolen
goods. Near the junction with
Hanbury Street are two indoor
markets; Upmarket and Backyard Market. In 2010, the Brick Lane
Farmers' Market opened, intended to be held every Sunday in nearby
Bacon Street; it has now closed.
In the later 20th century, Bangladeshis comprised the major group of
immigrants and gradually predominated in the area. Many
Bangladeshi immigrants to
Brick Lane were from the Greater Sylhet
region. These settlers helped shape Bangladeshi migration to Britain;
many families from
Jagannathpur and Bishwanath tend to live in the
Brick Lane area.
In 1742, La Neuve Eglise, a
Huguenot chapel, was built on the corner
Brick Lane and Fournier Street. By 1809, it was used by
missionaries as The Jews’ Chapel, where they promoted Christianity
to the expanding
Jewish population. It was adapted as a Methodist
Chapel in 1819 for Protestant residents. (
John Wesley had preached his
first "covenant sermon" at the nearby Black Eagle Street Chapel).
Reflecting the changing demographics of the area, in 1898, the
building was consecrated as the Machzikei HaDath, or Spitalfields
Great Synagogue. After decades of change in the area, with Jews moving
out and Bangladeshis moving in, in 1976 it was adapted again as the
London Jamme Masjid (Great London Mosque) to serve the expanding
Bangladeshi community. The building is Grade II* listed.
An elderly Bangladeshi man in Brick Lane
Curry restaurants in Brick Lane
In the 20th century the
Brick Lane area was important in the second
wave of development of Anglo-Indian cuisine, as families from
countries such as
Bangladesh (mainly the Greater
migrated to London to look for work. Some curry houses of Brick Lane
do not sell alcohol as most are owned by Muslims.
Bengalis in the
United Kingdom settled in big cities with industrial
employment. In London, many
Bengali people settled in the East End.
For centuries the East End has been the first port of call for many
immigrants working in the docks and shipping from
Chittagong port in
British Empire in
India was founded and based in Bengal).
Their regular stopover paved the way for food/curry outlets to be
opened up catering for an all male workforce as family migration and
settlement took place some decades later. Humble beginnings such as
this gave birth to
Brick Lane as the famous curry capital of the UK.
Sylheti origin constitute only 10% of all South Asians in
Britain; however around 90% of all South Asian restaurants in the UK
are Sylheti- or Bengali-owned.
Graffiti on Brick Lane
More recently the area has also broadened to being a vibrant art and
fashion student area, with considerable exhibition space. Each year
most of the fine art and fashion courses exhibit their work near Brick
Since the late 1990s,
Brick Lane has been the site of several of the
city's best known night clubs, notably 93 Feet East and The Vibe Bar,
both built on the site of The Old Truman Brewery, once the industrial
centre of the area, and now an office and entertainment complex.
Brick Lane has a regular display of graffiti, which features artists
such as Banksy, Stik, ROA, D*Face, Ben Eine and Omar Hassan. The
lane has been used in many music videos such as "Glory Days" by Just
Jack, "All These Things That I've Done" by
The Killers and "Überlin"
Land ownership and naming
Large swathes of
Brick Lane and its surrounding areas were once owned
by the Osborne (later Osborn after 1720) family, Baronets, of
Chicksands in the County of Bedford. The family's holdings survived
until at least the 1970s. The family's history continues to be
reflected by the naming of streets in the area around Brick Lane,
Chicksand Street reflects the village of Chicksands in Bedfordshire,
location of the family seat Chicksands Priory;
The west end of what is now Chicksand Street was once Osborn Place
(see 1787 map);
Modern Osborn Street was a renaming of the southern-most stretch of
Brick Lane (see Rocque map of 1746 for this naming, altered by the
time of the 1787 map);
Heneage Street reflects the marriage of George Osborn, 4th Baronet, to
Lady Heneage Finch (his 2nd wife) in April 1772;
The modern Hopetown Street was originally Finch Street, reflecting the
same marriage (see 1853 map, right);
The modern Old Montague Street was originally just Montague Street,
preserving the maternal family name of George Osborn, 4th Baronet,
whose mother, Mary Montague, was the daughter of George Montague, 2nd
Earl of Halifax. The continuation of Chicksand Street to the East
(now demolished) was once Halifax Street, referencing the same
Hanbury Street is made up of 4 streets shown on the 1853 map:
Browns Lane, Montague Street (triggering the addition of 'Old' to the
earlier street of the same name), Well Street and Church Street.
John Rocque's Map of London, 1746
Map, publisher unknown, dated 1787, showing Spitalfields
(Spittlefields) and its environs
An extract from Cross's New Plan Of London, showing
surrounding areas. Published 1853 by J.Cross of London.
Buildings of interest
Nearby buildings of interest include Christ Church, Spitalfields, The
Jamme Masjid or
Great London Mosque
Great London Mosque on the corner of Fournier Street
(the building represents a history of successive communities of
immigrants in East End) and The Rag Factory on Heneage Street (once
home to Turner Prize nominees
Tracey Emin and Gary Hume, now a
thriving arts space).
London Underground stations are Aldgate East and Liverpool
Street. In 2006 a campaign was launched to change the name of the
Aldgate East station to "Brick Lane", but received no official
London Overground station is
Shoreditch High Street
station. This line runs on part of the former
East London Line
East London Line which
has now been converted to London Overground. At the junction with
Pedley Street existed the former
Shoreditch Underground station
terminus, which closed in 2006 due to the construction of the East
London Line extension, and replaced by the aforementioned Shoreditch
High Street. Remnants of the station can be seen from trains entering
and leaving Liverpool Street station.
In popular culture
Brick Lane in 2005
The street is the location for Monica Ali's book Brick Lane, published
in 2003, and the film of 2007 starring Tannishtha Chatterjee. The
novel provoked a controversy with some of the local South Asian
community because of a perceived negative portrayal of them. Parts of
the Bengali community were particularly opposed to plans by Ruby Films
to film parts of the novel in the
Brick Lane area and formed the
"Campaign Against Monica Ali's Film Brick Lane." Consequently, the
producers of the film used different locations for certain scenes,
such as that depicting
Brick Lane Market. Despite this, the director
of the film, Sarah Gavron, attests on the DVD commentary of the film
that genuine footage of
Brick Lane does appear in the finished movie.
The Guardian they intended to burn copies of Ali's book
during a rally to be held on 30 July 2006, but the demonstration
passed without incident.
Other notable books on the area are Salaam
Brick Lane by Tarquin
Brick Lane (2007) by
Rachel Lichtenstein and An Acre of
Barren Ground by Jeremy Gavron. A large collection of photographs
of the characters and sales people who worked the markets in Brick
Lane were taken by Fran May between 1976 and 1978, encouraged by Bill
Brandt while Fran was a student of photography at the Royal College of
The street has been used for several filming locations for the BBC
television show Luther (2013) in its third season.
Brick Lane Market
Green Street, London
Old Truman Brewery
Old Truman Brewery - The Black Eagle Brewery, on Brick Lane
Spitalfields and Banglatown (London Borough of Tower Hamlets)
Archived 25 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine. accessed 1 November
^ "Stepney: Economic History", A History of the County of Middlesex:
Volume 11: Stepney,
Bethnal Green (1998), pp. 52-63 Retrieved 15
^ "Bethnal Green: The West:
Shoreditch Side, Spitalfields, and the
Nichol", A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 11: Stepney,
Bethnal Green (1998), pp. 103-109 Retrieved 15 October 2007.
^ Robert Bard.
Stepney Through Time. Stroud:
Amberley Publishing, 2014. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
^ The Black Eagle Brewery, Brick Lane, Survey of London: volume 27:
Mile End New Town (1957), pp. 116-122 Retrieved 15
^ "Bethnal Green: Settlement and Building to 1836", A History of the
County of Middlesex: Volume 11: Stepney,
Bethnal Green (1998), pp.
91-5 Date Retrieved 17 April 2007
^ John A. Jackson, Irish in Britain, 137-9, 150 (Routledge & Kegan
^ 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 Retrieved 17
^ Watts, Matt (18 May 2015). "Seven held at market as police target
'heart' of stolen bike trade". London Evening Standard.
Brick Lane Farmers Market Opens', LFM
^ "London Farmers' Markets
Brick Lane Farmers' Market".
^ The Spatial Form of Bangladeshi Community in London's East End Iza
Aftab (UCL) (particularly background of Bangladeshi immigration to the
East End). Date Retrieved 17 April 2007
^ Michael Smith, John Eade (2008). Transnational Ties: Cities,
Migrations, and Identities. Transaction Publishers. pp. 148-149.
^ Lucy Dixon, "A brief history of the Mosque" Archived 28 August 2007
at the Wayback Machine., My Tower Hamlets website, Retrieved 15
^ Historic England. "Details from image database (205992)". Images of
England. Retrieved 14 April 2009.
^ "Bringing Colour to the Block". Hookedblog — UK Street Art.
^ a b Cokayne (compiler), G. E. (1904). The Complete Baronetage,
Volume 3. Exeter, UK: William Pollard & Co Ltd.
^ "Bid to name Tube stop Brick Lane". BBC. 15 December 2006. Retrieved
10 January 2007.
^ Cacciottolo, Mario. "
Brick Lane protesters hurt over 'lies'", BBC
News, 31 July 2006.
^ Icons meets
Tarquin Hall Archived 2 November 2007 at the Wayback
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Brick Lane.
Brick Lane entry at the
Survey of London (1957)
Brick Lane through the last two hundred years, including many
Virtual e-Tour Brick Lane
Brick Lane - Eastside Community Heritage
London Borough of Tower Hamlets
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