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Bengali-speaking community in the Port of London

Introduction
From tea-pickers to tea clippers
Bengalis in the East End
Partition and Civil War
Bangla Town
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Introduction

The largest Bengali-speaking community in Britain is in London. Roughly half of London's Bengalis live in the riverside borough of Tower Hamlets, though there are large communities in Camden and Newham.

In Tower Hamlets the Bangladeshi community is almost a third of the total population. This community was the last to arrive in London by sea. All subsequent migrants arrived by air and many of them settled in west or north London, nearer Heathrow Airport. The arrival of the Bengali community coincides with the final decline of the port of London for passenger services.

Map of Bangladesh and West Bengal
View full size imageMap of Bangladesh and West Bengal. © NMM

The Bengali or Bangla speakers of London fall into two groups:

  • a small predominantly Hindu group from the Indian state of West Bengal
  • a larger Muslim community from the neighbouring nation of Bangladesh.

The majority of Bengali speakers in the Port of London are from the Sylhet region and speak a language called Selheti, as well as Bengali.

 

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National Maritime Museum/Royal Observatory GreenwichNew Opportunities Fund 
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