silk river

Burrabazar & Tower Hamlets


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.


Tower Hamlets

Partner: ‘A’ Team Arts – Tower Hamlets Council

Tower Hamlets’ youth arts provider, ‘A’ Team Arts, has been working with young people in the borough for 38 years.  They employ specialist tutors in all art forms and run regular youth arts sessions at their base at the Brady Arts Centre in Whitechapel, as well as in other youth settings across the borough.

‘A’ Team Arts admires 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.

On Sat 16th Sept 9.30am-5pm, follow the silk trail in Tower Hamlets and join us for a day of performances at six historic locations. We trace the footsteps of migrant Huguenot silk weavers through the grand houses in Fournier St, past the rag traders in Brick Lane and on to the park dedicated to the memory of Altab Ali – a symbol of the anti racism movement.

At the site of the ‘strangers home’ learn about the lives of the East India Company  lascars and their protests, and visit the church of the East India Company; We will weave their stories together through textiles, and performances from today’s younger generation of these aspirational communities.