Getting to London
|The main North Sea ports. © NMM|
Thousands of Eastern European Jews emigrating to Brtain came through Hamburg.
Large numbers also came via Bremen, Rotterdam and other North Sea ports.
Most of these travelled on the regular steamship services between these ports.
One typical service was the Bremen-based Argo Line, which regularly brought small numbers of Jewish emigrants into London.
|The Schwan (1907). © NMM|
Arriving in London
|'Aliens arriving at Irongate Stairs'. © NMM|
Most of these steamships landed at the St Katharine Wharf or nearby.
In the early days, many immigrants were transferred into small boats and landed at Irongate Stairs, near the Tower of London.
Having travelled in squalid, overcrowded conditions, the emigrants were usually a pitiful sight by the time they reached London.
|'Just Landed'. © NMM|
The mass exodus of Eastern European Jews had created business opportunities for the shipping companies, but it also created rich pickings for unscrupulous middlemen along the way. These included border officials and agents.
The Poor Jews' Shelter
The lucky ones went straight to the homes of friends or relatives. Some were taken to the Poor Jews' Shelter in Leman Street in Whitechapel, founded to help the new arrivals.
|'In the Poor Jews' Temporary Shelter'. © NMM|
The unlucky ones had to fend for themselves. They often fell prey to conmen promising them work or lodgings.
Many of those who had decided to go to America came via Britain. Most of these 'transmigrants' arrived at east coast ports such as Hull. From there they took trains to Liverpool to catch ships crossing the Atlantic.
|Union-Castle liners in the East India Docks, 1902. © NMM|
Many of the wealthier Jews living in Britain were not keen on the mass immigration of poor Jews from Eastern Europe. Some of those arriving in London were persuaded to move on to countries within the British Empire. Many ended up re-emigrating to South Africa, and left London on a Union-Castle steamer.