Generations of immigrants have made Brick Lane their home, enriching the area with trades, religions, languages and cultures. Its name comes from the brick kilns used by early Flemish settlers and made from the brick earth found here.
In the 17th century, Protestant Huguenot refugees came here escaping religious persecution in France. Their skills made Spitalfields the centre of London silk weaving. Later came a growing Jewish community, bringing the tailoring industries.
But as people became prosperous they left, a move hastened by the Blitz in World War One. The Second World War brought more changes and Bengalis came to London – some having served in the merchant navy during the war – where they found work with the Jewish tailoring businesses. And many set up new businesses – the curry houses for which the street is now famous.
Today, Brick Lane and its surrounding streets are protected by Conservation Area status, ensuring that the cultural heritage of the area will remain for years to come.
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