London Borough of Tower Hamlets ( ) is a London borough to the east of the City of London, England and north of
the River Thames in East
London, taking in much of the East
End. It includes much of the redeveloped Docklands region of London, including West India
Docks and Canary
Wharf. Many of the tallest buildings in London are
located on the Isle of
Dogs in the south of the borough.
is one of five London boroughs which have been designated host
boroughs for the 2012 Summer
. The borough has one of the highest ethnic minority
populations in the capital, consisting mainly of Bangladeshi
"Tower Hamlets" was historically applied to the Tower division of the county of Middlesex, covering not only the present borough, but also
part of the present-day London Borough of Hackney.
The Constable of the Tower of
had special jurisdiction over the area from the 16th
century until 1889. Inhabitants of Tower Hamlets were originally
required to provide yeomen for the
Later the Constable became Lord Lieutenant
of the area, raising and
organising the local militia
. Under the
Reform Act 1832
the area became a
name continued to be used for constituencies until 1918.
borough was formed in 1965, and took this historic name, through
amalgamation of the former metropolitan boroughs of Bethnal
Green, Poplar and Stepney. These boroughs were the heart of the East End of
most recent election to Parliament, the Borough was split into two
The constituencies for the next election will be:
Borough is a part of the London
constituency for election to the European Parliament.
The political history of the borough has
been characterised as leaning heavily to left-wing parties, often
explained by the migrant minorities that have lived within it. In
the main, this has meant large Labour majorities in terms of
national and local elections, although other left-wing parties have
won seats including Communists and more recently the Respect Unity
The borough lies within the City and East
constituency, and is represented by John Biggs
London Borough Council
The controlling and majority group is Labour. The current
composition follows the defection of five Respect councillors to
Labour since the May 2006 elections, the defection of one Respect
councillor to the Conservatives, the defection of one Liberal
Democrat to Labour and one Labour by-election gain from the Liberal
Details of individual ward councillors can be found at the
Borough's ward pages (below).
Previous election results are as follows:
Hamlets is located to east of the City of London and north of the River
Thames in East London. The London Borough of Hackney lies to the north of the borough while the River Lee forms the boundary with the
Borough of Newham in the east. The River Lee also forms the boundary
between those parts of London historically in Middlesex, with those formerly in Essex.
Dogs is formed from the lock entrances to the former
Docks and the largest current meander of the River
Thames and the southern part of the borough forms a part of the
historic flood plain of the River Thames; BBC on Thames floodplain accessed 31 Mar 2007 and but
for the Thames
Barrier and other flood prevention works would be
vulnerable to flooding.
Regent's Canal enters the borough
from Hackney to meet the River Thames at Limehouse Basin. A stretch of the Hertford Union Canal leads from the
Regent's canal, at a basin in the north of Mile End to join the River Lee at Old Ford. A further canal, Limehouse Cut, London's oldest, leads from locks at Bromley-by-Bow to Limehouse Basin. Most of the canal
tow-paths are open to both pedestrians and cyclists.
Park was formed by Act of Parliament, and administered
by the LCC and its successor
authority the GLC.
Since the latter authority's abolition, the park has been
administered by Tower Hamlets.
Areas within the borough
Areas included in the borough:
Tower Hamlets forms the main area of the East End of
London, more detailed local histories should be available for each
of the districts (above) within Tower Hamlets.
London Borough of Tower Hamlets forms the core of the East End, it
lies east of the medieval walled City of London and north of the River
Thames, use of the term "East End", in a pejorative sense began
in the late 19th century, as the expansion of the population of
London led to extreme overcrowding throughout the area and a
concentration of poor people and immigrants in the districts that
make it up. These problems were exacerbated with the
construction of St Katharine Docks (1827) and the central London railway termini
(1840–1875) that caused the clearance of former slums and rookeries, with many of the displaced people
moving into the area. Over the course of a century, the East
End became synonymous with poverty, overcrowding, disease and
The East End developed rapidly during the 19th century. Originally
it was an area characterised by villages clustered around the City
walls or along the main roads, surrounded by farmland, with marshes
and small communities by the River, serving the needs of shipping
and the Royal Navy. Until the arrival of
formal docks, shipping was required to land its goods in the
London, but industries related to construction, repair,
and victualling of ships flourished in the area from Tudor times. The area attracted large
numbers of rural people looking for employment. Successive waves of
foreign immigration began with Huguenot
refugees creating a new extramural suburb in Spitalfields in the 17th century. They were followed by
Irish weavers, Ashkenazi Jews and, in the 20th century,
Bangladeshis. Many of these
immigrants worked in the clothing industry. The abundance of semi-
and unskilled labour led to low wages and poor conditions
throughout the East End. This brought the attentions of social
reformers during the mid-18th century and led to the formation of
unions and workers associations at the end of
the century. The radicalism of the East End contributed to the
formation of the Labour Party and
demands for the enfranchisement of
Official attempts to address the overcrowded housing began at the
beginning of the 20th century under the London County Council. World War II devastated much of the East End,
with its docks, railways and industry forming a continual target,
leading to dispersal of the population to new suburbs, and new
housing being built in the 1950s. During the war, in the Boroughs
making up Tower Hamlets a total of 2,221 civilians were killed, and
7,472 were injured, with 46,482 houses destroyed and 47,574
damaged. The closure of the last of the East End
docks in the Port of
London in 1980 created further challenges and led to
attempts at regeneration and the formation of the London Docklands
Development Corporation. The Canary Wharf development, improved infrastructure, and the
Park mean that the East End is undergoing further
change, but some of its districts continue to contain some of the
worst poverty in Britain.
Wharf complex, within Docklands, on the Isle of Dogs forms a group of some of the tallest buildings in
Europe. One Canada
Square was the first to be constructed, and remains the
tallest. Nearby are the HSBC Tower, Citigroup Centre and One Churchill Place, headquarters of Barclays
Bank. Within the same complex are the Heron Quays offices.
unusual Green Bridge, opened in 2000, links sections of Mile End Park that would otherwise be divided by the Mile End
Road. The bridge contains gardens, water features and trees
around the path.
This data was taken between 1971 and 2000 at
the weather station in Greenwich, around south of the Town hall, at Mulberry
By 1891, Tower Hamlets – roughly the civil parish of Stepney
– was already one of the most populated areas in London. Throughout
the 19th century, the local population increased by an average of
20% every ten years. The building of the docks intensified land use
and caused the last marshy areas in the south of the parish to be
drained for housing and industry. In the north of the borough
employment was principally in weaving, small household industries
like boot and furniture making; and in new industrial enterprises
like Bryant and May. The availability
of cheap labour drew in employers. To the south of the parish,
employment was in the docks and related industries – such as
chandler and rope making. By the
middle of the century, the district of Tower Hamlets was
characterised by overcrowding and poverty. The construction of the
railways caused many more displaced people to settle in Tower
Hamlets, and a massive influx of Eastern European Jews at the end of the 19th century added to
the population. This influx peaked at the end of the century and
population growth entered a long
decline, as the more affluent moved away; and new suburbs were
opened up in Essex, east of the River Lee.
The metropolitan boroughs suffered badly during World War II, during which considerable numbers
of houses were destroyed or damaged beyond use. This coincided with
a decline in work in the docks, and the closure of many traditional
industries. The Abercrombie Plan for
London (1944) began an exodus from London towards the new towns. This decline
began to reverse, with the establishment of the London Docklands
Development Corporation bringing new industries and housing to
the brownfield sites along the river; and new immigration from
Asia, beginning in the 1970s. According to the 2001 census, the population of
the borough is approximately 196,106.
Tower Hamlets has one of the smallest
indigenous populations of the boroughs of Britain. In 2001,
White Britons constituted 42.9% of the
population. Bangladeshis, who
constituted 33% of the population, form the largest minority
community, with Somalis representing
the second largest minority ethnic group (at around 15,000
inhabitants). There are also a number of Chinese, Vietnamese, Indian, Pakistani, and Black African/Caribbean residents (with the
latter community representing 7% of the population).
The population of the Bangladeshi community counted on the 2001
census was 65,553. Bangladeshis are more likely to have large
families living together. The number of Bangladeshis aged under 18
is almost double the proportion for all Londoners. Most Bangladeshi
children in London were born in the UK, while most adults were born
in Bangladesh, 70% of the Bangladeshi community are below the age
of 30, where 40% of these are aged 0–15 and 9% are aged 16–19.
Bangladeshi population in the borough has been decreasing over the
years, based on Neighbourhood Statistics (ONS) estimates, the
percentage of Bangladeshis has dropped from 33.1 per cent in
2001 to 29.4 per cent in 2007 (estimate), About 9 in 10 Bangladeshi residents
have origins in the Sylhet region.
The main religious groups are Christians (38.6%), and Muslims (36.4%). The Muslim proportion of
the borough's population is the largest out of all local
authorities in England & Wales. There are 24 Church of England churches in Tower
Hamlets, which include Christ Church of Spitalfields, St Paul's Church of Shadwell and St Dunstan's of Stepney and also churches of many other Christian
denominations. There are a total of 40 confirmed mosques,
including Islamic centres, the largest are the East London
Mosque, the Brick Lane Mosque and the Markazi
Part of the borough is within the boundary
of the Thames
Gateway development area.
HSBC has its head office in 8 Canada Square, Canary
Wharf, Tower Hamlets. Barclays has its head office in One
Churchill Place, Canary Wharf.
37,500 pupils go to 98 schools in Tower Hamlets.The London
Borough of Tower Hamlets is the local education authority for state
schools within the borough.
Further education colleges
Centre Tower Hamlets, helps people living, working or studying
in Tower Hamlets find the right volunteering opportunity. It also
provides support to organisations involving volunteers.
Sports and leisure
Mile End Stadium, within Mile End Park hosts an athletics stadium, and facilities for football and basketball. Two football clubs, Beaumont Athletic F.C. and Sporting Bengal United F.C. are
based there. The borough also has its own football club named Tower
Hamlets Borough which was formed in 2009.
A leisure centre including a swimming pool at Mile End Stadium was
completed in 2006. Other pools are located at St
Georges, Limehouse and York
Hall, in Bethnal
Green. York Hall is also a regular venue for
boxing tournaments, and in May 2007 a public spa
- Spa London was opened in the building's
renovated Turkish Baths. Official London Spa
Tower Hamlets is one of five host boroughs
for the 2012 Summer Olympics,
with the Olympic
Park to be constructed in the Lea valley.
Parks in Tower Hamlets
Transport radiates across the borough from
the City of
London, with the A13
starting at Aldgate and heading east passing the entrance to the
tunnel towards Newham, and south-east Essex.
A12 also starts at Aldgate, crosses the Lea at Bow, towards Colchester and Great Yarmouth. Roads are busy at all times, particular
during the rush hours; and much of the borough is a controlled
parking zone, to prevent commuter parking.
principal rail services commence in the City at Fenchurch
Street, with one stop at Limehouse; and Liverpool Street, with stops at Bethnal
Green and Cambridge Heath.
Docklands Light Railway was
built to serve the docklands areas of the borough, with a principle
terminus at Bank and Tower Gateway. An interchange at Poplar allows trains to proceed north to Stratford and south via Canary Wharf towards Lewisham.
London Underground services cross
the district: the District and
Metropolitan Lines share track
East and Bromley-by-Bow. The Central Line
has stations at Bethnal Green and Mile End - where there is an interchange to the District
Line. The Jubilee Line
has one stop at Canary Wharf.
- Dr David GARBIN (June 2005) Bangladeshi diaspora in the UK: some
observations on socio-cultural dynamics, religious trends and
transnational politics University of Surrey. pp. 1.
Retrieved on 2009-03-27.
- LBTH ward details accessed 09 Aug 2008
- East End 1888 William Fishman (1998)
- From 1801 to 1821, the population of Bethnal Green more
than doubled, and by 1831, it had trebled (see table in population
section). These incomers were principally weavers. For further
details, see Andrew August Poor Women's Lives: Gender, Work,
and Poverty in Late-Victorian London pp 35-6 (Fairleigh
Dickinson University Press, 1999) ISBN 0838638074
- By the early 19th century, over 11,000 people were
crammed into insanitary slums in an area, which took its name from
the former Hospital of St Catherine that had stood on the site
since the 12th century.
- The East End Alan Palmer, (John Murray, London
1989) ISBN 071955666X
- Bethnal Green: Settlement and Building to 1836, A
History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 11: Stepney, Bethnal
Green (1998), pp. 91–5 Date accessed: 17 April 2007
- Irish in Britain John A. Jackson, p. 137–9, 150
(Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1964)
- The Jews, A History of the County of Middlesex:
Volume 1: Physique, Archaeology, Domesday, Ecclesiastical
Organization, The Jews, Religious Houses, Education of Working
Classes to 1870, Private Education from Sixteenth Century (1969),
pp. 149–51 Date accessed: 17 April 2007
- The Spatial Form of Bangladeshi Community in
London's East End Iza Aftab (UCL) (particularly background
of Bangladeshi immigration to the East End). Date accessed:
17 April 2007
- The East End at War Rosemary Taylor and
Christopher Lloyd (Sutton Publishing, 2007) ISBN
- Olympic Park: Legacy (London 2012)
- Chris Hammett Unequal City: London in the Global
Arena (2003) Routledge ISBN 0-415-31730-4
- A Vision of Britain through time
accessed 20 February 2009
- London Borough of Tower Hamlets - Housing Major
- Tower Hamlets - Social and Community
- Tower Hamlets - Ethnic groups - 2001 Census -
Borough Profile - Demographic and Household Trends.]
- Bangladeshi population estimates - Tower
Hamlets Neighbourhood Statistics (Office for National
Statistics). (13 July 2006). Retrieved on 2009-03-15.
- Gardner K (1995) International migration and the rural
context in Sylhet. New Community 18: 579–590
- Tower Hamlets - Religions - 2001 Census -
- Muslim rank - Local Authority - 2001
- Church List: Tower Hamlets The Diocese of
London. Retrieved on 2009-03-27.
- Mehmood Naqshbandi Mosques in Tower Hamlets Muslimsinbritain.org.
Retrieved on 2009-05-01.
- Stevenson, Rachel. " HSBC revalues its 'invisible' night workers."
Independent. Friday 28 May 2004. Retrieved on 29 November
- List of Education authority schools
- Volunteer Centre Tower Hamlets