In the same way that the East End is the heart of London, Brick Lane is the heart of the East End. Known to locals and visitors alike, tales of this fabled, historic street are told across the country. Renowned for its culture, art and curry, Brick Lane is one of the most popular places to visit in the capital; especially on Market Days when the place really comes to life.
However, it wasn’t always this way. Like the rest of London, Brick Lane comes from humble beginnings and has seen its fair share of history, people and changes over the centuries.
In the beginning
In the 15th Century, before the London Borough of Tower Hamlets was even a glimmer in a council architects eyes, a road called Whitechapel Lane ran through open fields; its name would later be changed in recognition of the tile and brick manufacturers who made use of the brick earth deposits in the area.
By the 17th century, as if predicting the bars and clubs that would follow in the future, brewing came to Brick Lane; notably, the Black Eagle Brewery founded by the Truman family. However, aside from drink, the 17th century brought with it a farmers market, which continues to this day and successive waves of immigrants. The first to make the move to Brick Lane were the French Huguenots who also had a sizeable population in nearby Spitalfields. The East End became a haven for immigrants searching for a better life and as London neared the 20th century, Jewish and Irish settlers had also made the move.
The most recent additions to the area hail from Bangladesh, who brought with them new customs and food as well as giving Brick Lane a new nickname, Banglatown.
These days, Brick Lane is arguably THE place to go for a curry in London (if not the entire UK). The food on this little street is lauded as being some of the best in the world and relies heavily on traditional, authentic methods of cooking; you’ll struggle to find the anglicised curries you are used too here!
That said, there is still a vibrant Jewish community in the East End and their wares and foods can be found down the myriad of side streets and alleys. Brick Lane has enjoyed something of a personal renaissance throughout the 20th century, making it one of the most artistic and trendy areas in the capital. As you might expect it plays host some of the capitals most touted nightclubs; notably 93 Feet East and Vibe Bar.
This part of London also enjoys a booming arts scene and many a street artist, both aspiring and world famous, have used its walls as a canvas. A wealth of street performers also practice their trade on Brick Lane, with musicians and circus performers vying for attention.
But don’t take our word for it, join us on one of our exceptional Brick Lane Tours and experience this vibrant, ever growing community first hand. Full details of our tours can be found online, alongside contact and booking information. We hope to see you soon!