Bengal's near four centuries of connections with East London

Conference Room Idea Store Whitechapel London E1 1BU
Bangladesh at 50, Heritage and museums
Thursday 16th December 2021 (18:30-20:30)

Dr M Ahmedullah (Secretary of Brick Lane Circle) will introduce and discuss aspects of the near four centuries of connections between Bengal and East London. Before the East India Company’s conquest of Bengal at the Battle of Plassey in 1757. There was an unsuccessful attempt by the English to conquer Chittagong in the late 1680s.

That episode ended with the English defeat at the hands of the Moghuls. The English were reinstated and allowed to trade after an apology and the payment of compensation. Then, followed about a century of Bengal textiles imports into Britain in massive quantities that consisted of more than forty varieties, ranging from superfine Muslins and Jamdani to courser fabrics. When they arrived at the East London docks, they were transported into East India Company warehouses in the Petticoat Lane and Liverpool Street areas before being auctioned off to eager buyers. Bengal textiles were an important source of British fashion for more than a century.

Now, we are learning more and more every about the Bengali seamen serving in the British merchant navy during the first half of the 20th century, called lascars, the majority of whom originated from the Sylhet region of present-day Bangladesh.

But the earliest link between Bengal and England goes back to at least the late1620s through the importation of nutmegs from the Dutch controlled Banda islands that included the sweat of Bengali slave labour. It will be a fascinating journey, so don’t forget to join the trip! 

See further details and book ticketsOrganised by Brick Lane Circle