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People migrating and settling in England have transformed our sense of place and our everyday experience of the world around us.

Migrant communities have adopted England's high streets, public spaces and neighbourhoods. They have introduced new patterns of retail, public life and social relations between communities. Globally connected to their places of origin, they have brought their food, clothes and a multitude of other items to the high street. They've made England's streets vibrant and fascinating places of varied cultural experiences.

Granville Arcade, now Brixton Village, 2016 with shoppers and the vegetable display of a Caribbean food store in the foreground.
Granville Arcade, now Brixton Village, 2016 © Historic England DP183168

Streetscapes

The new populations have helped to keep England 'a nation of shopkeepers'. They have introduced a variety and colour never before seen in our street markets and local shops. People can now experience new types of food, exotic fruits, traditional textiles, music and all kinds of products from all over the world.

New communities have revived and transformed markets and high streets across the country. London's Brixton and Whitechapel Markets, Liverpool's China Town, and the ethnically diverse thoroughfares of Leicester's Narborough Road, Manchester's Cheetham Hill Road to name but a few.

Crowded Petticoat Lane Market, Whitechapel, John Gay, 1946-59. Two black women and a child are browsing textiles while the market stallholder is talking to one of them.
Petticoat Lane Market, Whitechapel, John Gay, 1946-59 © Historic England AA054040

Communities and neighbourhoods

Industries in working class towns such as the mills of Bolton and Bradford, and the steel factories of Sheffield, sought cheap labour from populations in South Asia. These newcomers needed spaces where they could recreate their cultural and religious activities. And so new places of worship and communities sprang up across the country. Construction of temples, gurdwaras and mosques heralded a new architectural landscape and visual culture on England's streets.

Exterior of Sheffield Islamic Centre with cars and pedestrians in foreground.
Sheffield Islamic Centre, 2011 © Historic England DP143325

Today England is perhaps host to one of the world's most diverse collection of South Asian, African and West Indian religions. Many of, if not all of the various denominations of Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Christian and other faiths are represented here.

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