Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Diaspora: Announcing - Exploring BanglaTown

People's history Exploring Banglatown

WITH the fifth annual Bangladesh Film Festival underway, Tower Hamlets Council has launched a fascinating new booklet celebrating the vibrant culture and history that Bengali immigrants have brought to the borough.

Following the massive success of the council’s first cultural walking guide – Exploring the History of the Jewish East End – the new guide, entitled Exploring Banglatown and the Bengali East End, highlights key areas of historic importance in Tower Hamlets and how best to see them on foot.

Although many people know that Tower Hamlets has the largest Bengali community in Britain – totalling a third of the borough’s population – many are unaware that people from Bangladesh and West Bengal in India have lived here for nearly 400 years.

The booklet highlights the local remnants of the early Bengali settlers, such as the mentioning in the archives of St Botolph’s Church of a 1618 burial of a converted Bengali settler and the 17th century East India Dock Company, which brought many Bengalis to London.

The booklet also covers more modern additions to the Bengali heritage in the East End, including Martyr’s Monument Shahid Minar, the Brick Lane Mosque and Banglatown itself.

Tower Hamlets mayor Cllr Manir Uddin Ahmed said: “It’s great to see Tower Hamlets’ highlights mentioned in this booklet.

We want people to enjoy our area’s historic places, and see for themselves how our history enriches the borough today, as well as appreciating the bustling contemporary side.”

The booklet will be launched at the opening ceremony of the Bangladesh Film Festival at the Genesis Cinema in Mile End on October 3.

It will be available from local libraries, tourist information centres, at www.tower hamlets.gov.uk/data/discover
or by calling 7364 4958.

Tower Hamlets