Tuesday, 28 August 2007
Strolling onward to Brick Lane, nowadays nicknamed "Bangla Town" by the locals. Originally an area for the manufacture of bricks, then a Jewish neighbourhood and nowadays the centre of the Bangladeshi community. Ask a Londoner about Brick Lane and they'll talk about the excellent curry restaurants (bring your own beer- the restaurants are mainly Muslim). There's also the markets in the middle part of the Lane and at night its a clubbing area with the Vibe and others open till very late. The 24 hour Beigel Bakery does good trade around the clock.
The Bangladeshis first came here as seamen in the 1920s and expanded a wide range of trading in the area. The signage is often in Bangladeshi and as well as items likw saris from the indian sub-continent there's designer fashion from the Laden Shop or vintage clothes from Rokit.
Around the middle of the Lane is the tall chimneyed Truman's Black Eagle Brewery with origins in the 1700s. Nowadays its been converted to a tourist, cafe and shopping area, although part is still open for guided tours.
The area was one of the most densely populated in the middle of the 19th century and at that time was known for slums, narrow alleyways, poor water supplies and no proper sewage facilities.
Brick Lane today is a bustling and multi-cultural area. Off to each side are other small roads with fame of their own. Chicksand Street is reputed to be where Bram Stocker stayed on his return to Transylvania. Flower and Dean Street was the address of most of Jack the Ripper's victims at some stage in their lives and Hanbury Steet was the site of one of the murders. I'm not sure about Bacon Street.
And any spare flat surface will have been postered or display some form of graphic. This varies from mindless tagging to the street art of Banksy or sometimes installation pieces that have somehow made it onto the street.
Brick Lane may have converted to being more be halal than kosher, but the area continues to cast a vivid image into east London.