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Why did London attract such a large and diverse flow of immigrants - Essay Example

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The Sunday of September 2nd 1666 saw the breakout of the Great Fire f London, which started at a Pudding Lane bakery in the city’s southern part. At that time, London was Britain’s largest city by far; the commercial heart, busiest port and dominated the manufacturing and trading classes…
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Why did London attract such a large and diverse flow of immigrants
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Download file to see previous pages Lasting four days, the fire destroyed 87 parish churches and 13,200 residential houses, killing several citizens and leaving 70,000 homeless. This essay will give a description of the rebuilding of London just after the Great Fire and what it meant for the city as well as the outlook of immigration at that time. It will further address significant events in the growth of the city relating to immigrant groups that arrived in different time periods upto the period after World War Two (WWII) and the early 1960s. Each group impacted differently on the city, contributing to different aspects of life ranging from clothing, cuisine, architecture and the industrial revolution. Most of the wooden structures and the springing slums were destroyed by the fire, resulting in devastating economic and social problems. To facilitate reconstruction, King Charles II initiated and encouraged resettlement to other areas amidst fears of rebellion from dispossessed refugees. This led to depopulation of the city just after the fire. Disputes between landlords and tenants were settled by a specially convened fire court to decide who must rebuild, and most of the plan of the old city was used for rebuilding. However, new regulations were also included such that the plan, additionally, had improved fire safety and hygiene standards, stone and brick structures, wider streets, communication infrastructure and no obstructions to the access of river Thames. A monument was also built near Pudding Lane in commemoration of the fire, together with the famous St. Paul’s Cathedral and 50 other smaller churches. The rebuilding process was slow, and within one year, the new houses did not number more than 200. However, things soon picked up and 7,000 new buildings had been completed by 1671[8]. The emergent city was by the standards a modern one, attracting back the population and wealth that had shifted to London’s suburbs and the Town. New insurance companies were also set up to fight fires. Presently, the houses in Spitalfields along Folgate Street in eastern London, grand and terraced, reminds any visitor to London of the refugee silk weavers who designed and constructed them[1]. Although it existed before the Great Fire of London, silk weaving was one of the economic successes that attracted immigrants to London in the late 17th century and early 18th century. It was initially introduced by the French Protestants, known as the Huguenots, along with the manufacture of guns and clocks[2]. They arrived in London fleeing a wave of persecution in their home country and were welcomed by King Charles II, joining the Jewish settlers who had earlier been expelled but allowed back into London by Oliver Cromwell. At the end of the 17th century, there were an approximate 50,000 Huguenots and 20,000 Jews in London, most notably in the Spitalfields area, who were later joined by the Bangladeshis. Recently, estimates have shown that 25 percent of London’s contemporary population has a Huguenot ancestor. However, mass transfer of silk weaving technology into London was via Netherlands from the Far East, Middle East and Italy, during which time, early signs of an interwoven thread of cultures and ethnicities, often contrasting, began to show. By 1713, silk workers migrated from most parts of Europe into London, and the city employed close to 300,000 immigrants skilled in the industry[4]. This influx of immigrants was fuelled by the royal family’s presence in London and the fact that the city was home to England’ ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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