The site of the Old Truman Brewery and the same area in which Jack the Ripper committed his murders, Brick Lane is now full of curry restaurants, shops and galleries, and is the heart of the Bangladeshi community.
About Brick Lane
Literally just outside of the eastern part of the City of London, Brick Lane is now famous for art galleries, exhibitions, festivals and markets. Brick Lane Market is best on Sundays. There are usually street performers amongst the stalls selling second hand furniture and bric-a-brac, leather clothes and period clothing, as well as a whole range of other items. Take a good look around, to see what you can find.
A short walk away is Columbia Road Flower Market (it opens at 08:00 am) and the famous Petticoat Lane Market. Originally a track along which sheep were driven to Smithfield Market, Columbia Road started trading on a Sunday to accommodate the Jewish population that grew in the area in Victorian times. Petticoat Lane earned its name from the lace and petticoats once sold there by Huguenots exiled from France who settled in London. (The Victorians renamed it Middlesex Street, which is what you will see on the street signs, but it is still known as Petticoat Lane, or just “The Lane.”)
Another famous converted market is Spitalfields – the church after which it is named still stands, a beautiful building and worth a visit. The market itself has a bit of everything – many of the brand name shops, an art market and more. It’s only about five minutes walk from Liverpool Street Station on one side and about ten minutes from Aldgate on the other, so transport is easy.
Restaurants and Bars
Almost all along Brick Lane, there are bars and restaurants. All the restaurants are pretty good, which is to be expected as it’s famous for its curry restaurants, but they do vary in their style and decor. It’s worth taking a walk all the way along to see which one you prefer the look of before going in to any of them, although my favourite is the Sheraz. The old brewery has been transformed and is now home to an array of restaurants and galleries, although the external brickwork of the original brewery still exists.
A number of the bars have live music – again, take your pick as to which you prefer. Most of them are trendy and modern. At the corner of Commercial Street and Fournier Street, close by, is the Ten Bells public house. Although much of the outside has been rebuilt, this pub stood during the times of the Jack the Ripper murders and the inside is pretty much as it would have been in those days. Worth a visit if you are interested in that period of history.
This is an area all about contrasts – the wealthy city nearby, but council flats and poorer areas all standing close by each other. But if you want to try something off the beaten tourist track, you could do worse than spend a day here.
London, Brick Lane photo by ahisgett