Traces of immigration and foreign investment in London

Deyan Sudjic talks about being able to see traces of immigration in London. In fact it is difficult to move around London without seeing the effects of immigration or foreign influence, both historically and contemporaneously.

Historically, a trip to Spitalfields, just east of the city of London, demonstrates the presence of the Hugeuonots in the seventeenth centuy. Many of the streets have French names, such as Fleur-de-Lys Street, Fournier Street and Nantes Passage, and most of the houses, terraced, are very tall, with French shutters, and attic rooms with windows, where the Hugeunots, mostly weavers, worked, the attic room maximising the amount of daylight, by which they did their work. On 18 Folgate Street, in Spitalfieds, a Hugenot’s silk weaver’s house has been recreated.

One building in Spitalfields, in Brick Lane in particular, is emblematic of the history of immigration into Spitalfields over the years. The building in particular, started off life as a Huguenot church, but in the early twentieth century when Jewish immigrants arrived, it became a synagogue, and now in the early twenty-first century, with the area being Bengali, the building has been turned into a mosque.

More recently Qatari investors have been responsible for erecting the Shard, the tallest building in London and Europe, as well as the Emirates Airway, a cable car running across the Thames, in the eastern part of the city from Royal Victoria Dock to North Greenwich. Meanwhile, in the last few weeks Chinese investors have announced a plan to develop Royal Victoria Docks into a Chinese business hub, which will be a Chinese village, which will essentially operate to Chinese business hours, and provide Chinese industry a gateway into Europe.


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