South Asian Sailors' history in Canning Town, East London


South Asian Sailors' history in Canning Town, East London

During the 19th and 20th centuries, a diverse community of sailors and soldiers lived in London ...

While researching a photography project, I came across some archival material about a diverse community of sailors and soldiers who lived in Canning Town, East London, during the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. This neighbourhood was locally known as ‘Draughtboard Alley’ because of the black and white people who lived there. I was surprised to learn about this community because I had previously worked and lived in the area for years and had no idea they existed. There was a growing presence of South Asian Sailors within this community referred to as ‘Laskars.’ I began to wonder about them. Where did they come from? What were their lives like aboard the ships? What jobs did they do? Did they regret migrating to the UK? I was keen to learn more about them and share their story”.

To share this history, I've created a learning resource, attached here as a PDF that you can download. This visual resource is suitable for anyone over 12 years old, interested in photography, archival images, and local history. This is intended as an educational resource, and was funded by the Greater London Authority. This booklet forms part of the Bridging History Project, whose aims are to connect people, learn about the past, and create positive change for the future.

All images have been attributed where possible, but we can make amendments or corrections if we have unintentionally made errors. Please contact if you have any information to help us identify the owners of these images.

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