1. The Immigration History of different ethnic Groups in London
1.1.1 Immigrants from the Indian Subcontinent
Indians represent the biggest ethnic minority in London, as underlined by recent
Roughly 10 % of the population in London consists of Indians. In this case, Indians
means not only people from India itself, but also from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri
The major wave of Immigrants from the Indian Subcontinent started coming into the
Country during the 1950s and 1960s. One reason of this rapid rising was the "British
Nationality Act" in 1948, which allowed citizens from the British Commonwealth
free entry into Great Britain whilst the United States introduced a stern new law
concerning the Immigration policy. This made the United Kingdom even more
attractive for Foreigners. Another reason was that the Immigrants soon noticed that
Britain was in desperate need for new workers after the destruction of the second
Probably the most important conjunction between India and Great Britain is and
always will be the British Empire with its colonies.
"In 1900 it was not absurd to regard London as the centre of the world, and
children learned certain phrases which expressed in simple terms the 'truths'
which the British regarded as paramount: The sun never sets on the British
Empire; India is the brightest jewel in the imperial Crown; Britannia rules the
The British started to gain power in the country in the 17
wanted to have Independence again, so in 1947 the British Rulers in India had to
give in and India became a republic while still remaining part of the
The young people from India seized their opportunity and came to
Britain to attend universities and colleges. Since the people from the
Commonwealth had free entry to Britain, the country was faced with a wave of
Immigrants who thought that Life in the welfare state Britain would be better than
to remain in their mother country where living conditions still remained fairly low. In
1961, immigration from the Commonwealth was rising so fast, that the British
Government was forced to introduce laws to restrict it.
But nevertheless, once they were there they couldn't be forced to leave the country
again and go back. This is why London has got a large Indian community especially
focused in London's East and West End.
(a bilingual street sign in London's East End)
2 Bromhead, Life in Modern Britain, p.216
4 cf. Bromhead, pp. 217-220
5 cf. ibid. p.221
Thinking about the Chinese population in London eventually leads to the image of
Chinatown in Soho. But this Chinatown is not the first ever to exist in London. The
first Chinatown was in the Docks, where the Chinese had their businesses to supply
the sailors. But this area was destroyed during the Second World War. The result is
the present Chinatown in Soho, which was established in the 1970s. Most tourists
would think that this is where the Chinese community lives, but there's more retail
than residents there. Meaning there are a lot of restaurants and shops in
Chinatown, but not the living space of the owners.
, 02-11-2014- New Year's preparation in Chinatown, London)
The Chinese population in London at present time is not focused on one particular
part of the city but distributed evenly on the boroughs of the city. A lot of
Immigrants from China who are now owners of a business in Chinatown came in the
1960s, because Chinese restaurants experienced a boom and they had great
success. Vietnamese fugitives escaped the war in the 70s and settled in Lewisham,
Lambeth and Hackney. Ten years later a lot of well educated people from China
migrated to the London suburbs of Croydon and Colindale.
Recent figures show
that the most new immigrants come from China, the number rose drastically from
2008 to 2012, which can be lead back to the high number of young Chinese people
attending universities in Great Britain.
The good connection between Britain and
China can be seen in the celebrations for the Chinese New Year on Trafalgar Square.
The History of Africans migrating began in the 1500s when the slave trade began -
they were not only needed to work on plantations, but also in the wealthy English
households. At the beginning of the eighteenth century, with the Industrial
Revolution just about to start, the rich British merchants from the big cities brought
back not only goods, but also even more African slaves. An estimated 14.000 black
women, men and children lived in England in 1770. 1807 was the year the
parliament banned the trade of slaves, but not slavery itself. So, the slaving trade
proceeded and when captains thought they would be caught they threw the slaves
overboard. Almost 30 years later, in 1833, the parliament finally banned slavery all
across the British Empire. When Immigration from Europe was increasing, the
Arrival of African People almost stopped. The only black immigrants at that time
were Seamen that settled down with small communities near the British harbours.
Restrictions on Immigration by the government made in the 1970s made it much
harder for black people to migrate than for white. In the 1980s only specific groups
migrated because of the stricter laws. South Africans for example made use of the
"family-tie" entry rule, which means that they had relatives already living in Britain
and followed them. In the following years, a lot of people suffered from political or
religious persecution and searched for asylum. In the two years between 1998 and
2000, 45.000 asylum seekers arrived from Africa alone.
Many of the African immigrants nowadays do not come from Africa directly. They
first migrate to another European country, say Germany or Sweden and then decide
to go to Britain. The reasons are that they think the United Kingdom is more open
for Immigrants than other European Countries - perhaps because of its centuries-
long Immigration history? They also admire that so many non-white people succeed
in Britain, especially in London and hope to do the same.
Peckham has got the largest Nigerian community in Britain, although some other
popular African areas in London include Hackney , Lambeth or Southwark.
1.3 Immigrants from Europe
1.3.1 The Irish
Being the Neighbour of England and Northern Ireland one part of the United
Kingdom, not often do we think about the Irish when it comes to the topic of
Immigration to London and Britain. But in a 2001 study it says that 24% of the
British population have an Irish parent or grandparent, which makes a total of 14
million. In comparison to a census from 1991 according to which 10% have Irish
ancestors, the numbers have been rising vigorously.
These are the people who had
Immigrants as parents or grandparents. But what about the people born in Ireland
and immigrating to Britain? In 2001, 494.850 people who were born in the Republic
of Ireland lived in Britain. 157.556 of these people alone lived in London.
But why is that? Robert Winder states it like that:
"By far the biggest injection of fresh blood in the nineteenth century came
from Ireland, and the fury with which Britain reacted is famous. Few
Immigrants have been less welcome.(...)They were penniless, unhealthy,
unshod and unclean, lacking even the wherewithal to wash."
The Irish Migrants always did the lowest-paying jobs. Whether it was digging Canals,
picking Fruits or hacking Stones. It has always been the Irish who did the jobs the
'normal' English population would never do. There even were some riots from the
English labourers, who got fired for the much cheaper Irish workers by their
employers. In London, the Irish rioted then again against the nasty working
conditions in the docks. These Irish workers, who did almost everything for a bit of
money hoped to earn something to bring back to their families .
In the 1840s the huge problem of Starvation occurred in Ireland. Some managed to
go to America and even were valued for their tough way of working. But those who
took the shorter way to England would soon notice that they weren't better off with
15 Winder, Bloody Foreigners, p.194
16 cf. ibid. p.195
17 cf. ibid. p.196
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- Teresa Ruß (Author), 2015, Immigration in London. The cultural Hotspot of England, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/372957
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