silk river

Burrabazar & Wapping


Once a big centre for trade, this area still boasts of being a confluence of culture. Burrabazar expanded from a yarn and textile market into one of the largest wholesale markets in India. Attracting traders and merchants from all over the world, this area saw several communities make it their home, as is evident from the different places of worship once can see – from the Armenian church, to the Jewish synagogues, the Portuguese church, the Scottish kirk, the Nakhoda mosque and the Chinese temple.

Over the years, Burrabazar has survived Siraj-ud-Daulah setting fire to the market in 1756, the eventual decline of the Bengali zamindari families, the Bengal famine, the partition of Bengal — first in 1905 and then in 1947 — and the eventual decline of the city in the country’s trade economy.

Still a bustling market, the sight of a merchant sitting amidst their wholesale wares and accounts books, is not an uncommon sight. Carts of all kinds can be seen ferrying different things across the marketplace.


Partner: A-team Arts – Tower Hamlets Council

Wapping’s proximity to the river gave it a strong maritime character for centuries and was inhabited by sailors, mastmakers, boat-builders, blockmakers and other tradesmen. Docklands was a run down dangerous place after the WW2 Blitz, until the 1980’s when huge redevelopments filled the area with luxury living spaces.

‘A’ Team Arts has been working with young people in Tower Hamlets for 37 years. They employ specialist tutors in all art forms and run regular youth arts sessions at their base at the Brady Centre in Whitechapel, as well as in other youth settings across the borough.

‘A’ Team Arts admire the ambition of the Silk River project and think it will be a way for the participants to learn about their heritage, to mix with other people from different faiths and ethnicities, as well as learning a new skill and developing themselves as artists.

Young people will be involved in creating a high quality piece of work that profiles Tower Hamlets and its diversity across the borough in a creative endeavour. They will learn about a new art form from the Patua artists as well as the beautiful art of batik.