London Borough of Tower Hamlets facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
London Borough of Tower Hamlets
200px|Tower Hamlets
Shown within Greater London
Official website http://www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/
Geography
Status London borough
Area
— Total
Ranked 348th
19.77 km²
ONS code 00BG
Admin HQ Clove Crescent, Blackwall
Demographics
Population
— Total (2005 est.)
Density
Ranked 61st (of 354)
213,200
10,784 / km²
Ethnicity {{{ethnicity}}}
Politics
Leadership Mayor & Cabinet
Mayor John Biggs (Labour)
Executive Labour
MPs Rushanara Ali (Labour)
Jim Fitzpatrick (Labour)
London Assembly
— Member
City and East
Unmesh Desai (Labour)

The London Borough of Tower Hamlets () is a London borough to the east of the City of London and north of the River Thames. It is in the eastern part of London and covers much of the traditional East End. It also includes much of the redeveloped Docklands region of London, including West India Docks and Canary Wharf. Many of the tallest buildings in London occupy the centre of the Isle of Dogs in the south of the borough. A part of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is in Tower Hamlets. The borough has a population of 272,890, which includes one of the highest ethnic minority populations in the country and has an established British Bangladeshi business and residential community. Brick Lane's restaurants, neighbouring street market and shops provide the largest range of Bengali cuisine, woodwork, carpets and clothes in Europe. The local authority is Tower Hamlets London Borough Council.

The council, as of 2014 comprises 18 Tower Hamlets first councillors, 23 Labour Councillors, 5 Conservative councillors and a solitary UKIP Councillor. The council has a White British population of under 35%.

Geography

Physical geography

Canary Wharf Skyline 2, London UK - Oct 2012
Canary Wharf, world headquarters of numerous major banks and professional services firms

Tower 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 Lea forms the boundary with the London Borough of Newham in the east. On the other side of the Thames is The London Borough of Southwark to the southwest, The London Borough of Lewisham to the South, and The Royal Borough of Greenwich to the southeast. The River Lea also forms the boundary between those parts of London historically in Middlesex, with those formerly in Essex.

The Isle of Dogs is formed from the lock entrances to the former West India 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; and but for the Thames Barrier and other flood prevention works would be vulnerable to flooding.

The 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 Lea 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.

Victoria 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. Part of the borough is within the boundary of the Thames Gateway development area.

Tower Hamlets London UK location map
Areas, transport, & landmarks
in the Borough of Tower Hamlets.

Areas within the borough

Areas included in the borough:

History

Altab Ali protest
Protest march by Bangladeshis to Downing Street with murdered Altab Ali's coffin, 1978

The earliest apparent use of the name "Tower Hamlets" was in the sixteenth century, when the Constable of the Tower of London commanded the Tower Hamlet Militia as the Lord Lieutenant of Tower Hamlets. The Hamlets of the Tower paid taxes for the militia in 1646.

The London Borough of Tower Hamlets forms the core of the East End. It lies east of the ancient 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 made 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 criminality.

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 goods in the Pool of 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 women.

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 Queen Elizabeth Olympic 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.

Local landmarks

Canary.wharf.from.thames.arp
Canary Wharf, seen from a high-level walkway on Tower Bridge

Historical landmarks

Modern landmarks

The Canary 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 is the second tallest in London. Nearby are the HSBC Tower, Citigroup Centres and One Churchill Place, headquarters of Barclays Bank. Within the same complex are the Heron Quays offices.

Climate

The data below were taken between 1971 and 2000 at the weather station in Greenwich, around 1 mile (1.6 km) south of the town hall, at Mulberry Place:

Climate data for London (Greenwich)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 14.0
(57.2)
19.7
(67.5)
21.0
(69.8)
26.9
(80.4)
31.0
(87.8)
35.0
(95)
35.5
(95.9)
37.5
(99.5)
30.0
(86)
28.8
(83.8)
19.9
(67.8)
15.0
(59)
37.5
(99.5)
Average high °C (°F) 8.3
(46.9)
8.5
(47.3)
11.4
(52.5)
14.2
(57.6)
17.7
(63.9)
20.7
(69.3)
23.2
(73.8)
22.9
(73.2)
20.1
(68.2)
15.6
(60.1)
11.4
(52.5)
8.6
(47.5)
15.2
(59.4)
Average low °C (°F) 2.6
(36.7)
2.4
(36.3)
4.1
(39.4)
5.4
(41.7)
8.4
(47.1)
11.5
(52.7)
13.9
(57)
13.7
(56.7)
11.2
(52.2)
8.3
(46.9)
5.1
(41.2)
2.8
(37)
7.5
(45.5)
Record low °C (°F) -10.0
(14)
-9.0
(15.8)
-8.0
(17.6)
-2.0
(28.4)
-1.0
(30.2)
5.0
(41)
7.0
(44.6)
6.0
(42.8)
3.0
(37.4)
-4.0
(24.8)
-5.0
(23)
-7.0
(19.4)
-10.0
(14)
Precipitation mm (inches) 51.6
(2.031)
38.2
(1.504)
40.5
(1.594)
45.0
(1.772)
46.5
(1.831)
47.3
(1.862)
41.1
(1.618)
51.6
(2.031)
50.4
(1.984)
68.8
(2.709)
58.0
(2.283)
53.0
(2.087)
591.8
(23.299)
Humidity 81.0 76.0 69.0 64.0 62.0 60.0 60.0 62.0 67.0 73.0 78.0 82.0 69.5
Avg. rainy days (≥ 1.0 mm) 10.8 8.5 9.6 9.4 9.0 8.3 8.0 7.6 8.5 10.7 10.1 9.9 110.4
Avg. snowy days 4 4 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 3 16
Sunshine hours 49.9 71.4 107.1 159.8 181.2 181.0 192.1 195.1 138.9 108.1 58.5 37.4 1,480.5
Source #1: Record highs and lows from BBC Weather, except August and February maximum from Met Office
Source #2: All other data from Met Office, except for humidity and snow data which are from NOAA


Demographics

Population census
Year Pop. ±%
1801 130,871 —    
1851 330,581 +152.6%
1901 578,143 +74.9%
1911 571,438 −1.2%
1921 529,114 −7.4%
1931 489,956 −7.4%
1941 337,774 −31.1%
1951 232,860 −31.1%
1961 195,883 −15.9%
1971 164,699 −15.9%
1981 139,989 −15.0%
1991 167,985 +20.0%
2001 196,121 +16.7%
2011 254,096 +29.6%
2014 284,015 +11.8%
Note:

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 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 chandlery 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 through to the 1960s, as they moved away eastwards to newer suburbs of London in Essex.

The metropolitan boroughs suffered very badly during World War II, during which considerable numbers of houses were destroyed or damaged beyond use due to heavy aerial bombing. 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. Also contributing was new immigration from Asia beginning in the 1970s. According to the 2001 census the population of the borough is approximately 196,106. According to the ONS estimate, the population is 237,900, as of 2010.

Crime in the borough increased by 3.5 percent from 2009 to 2010, according to figures from the Metropolitan Police, having decreased by 24 percent between 2003/2004 and 2007/2008.

Tower Hamlets has one of the smallest indigenous populations of the boroughs in Britain. No ethnic group forms a majority of the population; a plurality of residents are of White ethnicity (45%) of which 31% are White British. Asians form 41% of the population, of which 32% are Bangladeshi which is the largest ethnic minority in the borough. A small proportion are of Black African and Caribbean descent (7%), with Somalis representing the second largest minority ethnic group. Those of mixed ethnic backgrounds form 4%, while other ethnic groups form 2%. The White British proportion was 31.2% in the 2011 census, falling from 42.9% in 2001.

Religion

Aerial view of East London Mosque complex - Feb 2014
East London Mosque, the first in Europe to be allowed to use loudspeakers to broadcast the adhan
Christ Church exterior, Spitalfields, London, UK - Diliff
Christ Church of Spitalfields
LondonBuddhistCentre
The London Buddhist Centre

As Tower Hamlets is considered one of the world's most racially diverse zones, it holds various places of worship. According to the 2011 census, 34.5% of the population was Muslim, 27.1% Christian, 1.7% Hindu, 1.1% Buddhist, 1.1% followed another religions, 19.1% were not affiliated to a religion and 15.4% did not state their religion.

Tower Hamlets has the highest proportion of Muslims in England. There are more than 40 mosques and Islamic centres in Tower Hamlets. The most famous is the East London Mosque, one of the first mosques in Britain allowed to broadcast the adhan and one of the biggest Islamic centres in Europe. The Maryam Centre, a part of the mosque, is the biggest Islamic centre for women in Europe. Opened in 2013, it features a main prayer hall, ameliorated funeral services, education facilities, a fitness centre and support services. The East London Mosque has been visited by several notable people, including Prince Charles, Boris Johnson, many foreign government officials and world-renowned imams and Muslim scholars. Other notable mosques are Brick Lane Mosque, Darul Ummah Masjid, Esha Atul Islam Mosque, Markazi Masjid, Stepney Shahjalal Mosque and Poplar Central Mosque.

There are 21 active churches, affiliated with the Church of England, 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.

Other notable religious buildings include the Fieldgate Street Great Synagogue, the Congregation of Jacob Synagogue, the London Buddhist Centre, the Hindu Pragati Sangha Temple, and the Gurdwara Sikh Sangat.

Leisure

Parks in Tower Hamlets

MileEnd Park
Mile End Park

There are over one hundred parks and open spaces in Tower Hamlets ranging from the large Victoria Park, to numerous small gardens and squares. The second largest, Mile End Park, separated from Victoria Park by a canal, includes The Green Bridge that carries the park across the busy Mile End Road. One of the smallest at 1.19 ha is the decorative Grove Hall Park off Fairfield Road, Bow, which was once the site of a lunatic asylum. Other parks include Altab Ali Park, Mudchute park and Grove Hall Park.

Museums

Standbeeld Robert Milligan Museum of London Docklands
Museum of London Docklands
  • Island History Trust
  • Museum of London Docklands
  • Ragged School Museum
  • V&A Museum of Childhood
  • Whitechapel Art Gallery
  • The Women's Library

The Women's Library in Aldgate is the Great Britain's main library and museum resource on women and the women's movement, especially concentrating on Britain in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Transport

Transport radiates across the borough from the City of London, with the A13 starting at Aldgate and heading east passing the entrance to the Blackwall Tunnel towards Newham, and south-east Essex. The 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. Two tunnels allow cars to travel in both directions under the Thames, the Rotherhithe Tunnel from Limehouse to Rotherhithe in the London Borough of Southwark, and the Blackwall tunnel, from Blackwall to the Royal Borough of Greenwich .

The 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. The East London Line passes from north to south through Tower Hamlets with stations at Whitechapel, Shadwell and Wapping. One entrance to Shoreditch High Street station is inside the Borough. Two Crossrail stations are currently under construction and are expected to start services in late 2018.

The Docklands Light Railway was built to serve the docklands areas of the borough, with a principal terminus at Bank and Tower Gateway. An interchange at Poplar allows trains to proceed north to Stratford, south via Canary Wharf towards Lewisham, and east either via the London City Airport to Woolwich Arsenal or via ExCeL London to Beckton.

Three London Underground services cross the district: the District and Hammersmith and City lines share track between Aldgate East and Barking. 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.

List of stations

London Buses Routes 8, 15, 25, 26, 35, 40, 42, 47, 48, 55, 78, 100, 106, 108, 115, 135, 205, 254, 276, 277, 309, 323, 339, 388, 425, 488, D3, D6, D7, D8, RV1 and Night Routes N8, N15, N26, N35, N55, N550 and N551.

In March 2011, the main forms of transport that residents used to travel to work were: underground, light rail, 24.0% of all residents aged 16–74; on foot, 7.5%; bus, minibus or coach, 7.5%; driving a car or van, 6.9%; bicycle, 4.1%; train, 3.8%; work mainly at or from home, 2.3%.

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London Borough of Tower Hamlets Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.