What do you do when you visit London? Take an red bus tour and a guided walk.
Today you can explore London’s multiculturalism with expert guides. Whether its Black, Jewish, Chinese, Bengali, there’s a walking tour to discover it in London.Without Tony Warner’s Notting Hill Black History Walk, I would have never known that the neighborhood once had a large and vibrant Afro-Caribbean community. With Jessie Levene’s Chinatown tour, I now know the best places in London for Sichuan food. That’s why you need to take at least one of the more than a dozen multicultural tours available in London.
Below is my list of the top multicultural walks of London.
Have you ever wondered why the Caribbean Notting Hill Carnival, is in Notting Hill?
Many people think that London’s black history began on June 22, 1948, when 492 Jamaican immigrants arrived on the ocean liner SS Empire Windrush. In the years following, thousands of immigrants followed, forever changing London’s racial makeup. But after taking any of Tony Warner’s Black History Walks, you’ll learn that London’s black history goes back hundreds of years to when Great Britain started extracting wealth (and people) from its colonies.
Tony Warner offers four tours all over London that explore what is often hidden and unknown black history. His tours cover Notting Hill, Trafalgar Square, the City area, and Elephant & Castle.
Contact: info@ blackhistorywalks.co.uk
When: The Black History Walks don’t have a regular time, but Tony always updates his website to show the upcoming tours. If you don’t see one coming up, contact him for a private walk.
Cost: £ 10
St. Paul/ Banks Area
London’s metropolitan area became one of the wealthiest regions in the world through the looting of resources from other nations, particularly West Africa (slaves and gold) and the Caribbean (sugar). Tony points out the clues to this history throughout the City of London.
How does a once-vibrant Caribbean community evolve into a wealthy neighborhood— with only a carnival that hints at its past? Through gentrification. During the 1950s, Trinidadian immigrants flocked to the neighborhood because it was one of the only places where real estate agents would rent to blacks. Racism led to a race riot in 1958. To unite the community, Trinidadian Claudia Jones initiated Carnival-like parties that eventually led to the Notting Hill Carnival. Tony’s tour traces the history of Caribbeans in the area.
Trafalgar Square is a symbolic center of London, through which millions of people pass each day, unaware of its African history. African princes, generals, resistance fighters, civil rights leaders, pilots, nurses, and sailors all make an appearance.
Elephant & Castle
Explore the history of blacks in World War II as Tony leads you on a tour of two museums in the area, the Imperial War Museum and the Cuming Museum.
Tony Warner is an amazing historian who can find black history in some of the most unlikely spots. With this tour you can expect ancient African civilizations, black women broadcasters of the 1940s, civil rights activists who campaigned for equality in the military, black female entrepreneurs and heroines, Jimi Hendrix, Mary Seacole, African radicals of the 1800s, black classical musicians, Pan-African conspiracies, propaganda, and spies.
Jessie Levene breaks down Chinese food in Chinatown!
After a 10-minute walk through London’s Chinatown, you might be struck by its similarity to many Chinatowns around the world— red lanterns and elaborate gates. You would never know that London’s original Chinatown, full of Chinese sailors, was in East London near the docks. And with so many restaurants, how would you know where to eat? That’s why you need Jessie Levene’s Chinatown tour.
Jessie spent almost 2 years living in the foodie paradise of the Szechuan, China. When she returned to continue her studies in London, she longed for the province’s spicy cuisine. So she began to explore. Today, her Chinatown Food Tour is a practical introduction to Chinese cuisine and cooking. In the first half of the 1 ½-hour tour, she explains the origins of the neighborhood. The second half is spent learning about Asian foods available in Chinatown. She ends the tour with a stop at her favorite Szechuan restaurant, The Baozi Inn.
Contact: email firstname.lastname@example.org
When: Every 2nd Saturday of the month
Where: Chinatown, London Price: £ 8 and £ 5 for food and drink afterwar
Length: 1 ½ hours
Check out the Petticoat Lane markets on Sunday. The market is a remnant of the area’s Jewish heritage.
Between 1880 and 1919, the UK’s Jewish population increased from 46,000 to more than 250,000, with most new Jewish immigrants settling in major cities like London, Manchester, and Leeds. These Jewish immigrants came to London from Eastern Europe, escaping the pogroms and repressive laws of the time. London’s Whitechapel area became a Jewish Town with Jewish schools, shops, synagogues, and markets. By the 1990s, however, most had moved out of Whitechapel to leafier suburbs. Today on Brick Lane, the only retail evidence that remains of this Jewish past are two 24-hour bagel shops. Thankfully, there are several tours that will help visitors uncover East London’s rich Jewish history.
Stephen Burstin’s Jewish Walking Tours
Stephen Burstin could tell you the Jewish history of all of London, but it’s best to start with his standard tour offered every Sunday: the Spitalfields & Aldgate Tour. You’ll visit London’s oldest synagogue, see a soup kitchen that served the Jewish poor, and learn about the Jewish connection with Jack the Ripper. Stephen runs a second tour on Sunday afternoon of the Soho and Fitzrovia neighborhoods. While their Jewish history isn’t nearly as well known as that of the East End, it’s still a fascinating look at London’s multicultural past.
Contact: 07967 561759, info@ jewishlondonwalkingtours.co.uk
When: Spitalfields & Aldgate, Sunday at 10: 15 a.m.; Soho and Fitzrovia, Sunday, 2: 30 p.m.; tour size is limited so book ahead
Cost: £ 10 each Length: 2 ½ hours
Go Jewish London Tours with Rachel Kolsky
Rachel Kolsky recently published the Travel Guide to Jewish London, so her expertise can’t be disputed. Plus, her tour company offers 18 Jewish London walks. Through her various tours, one can learn about the famously rich Rothschild family, Sigmund Freud, Jewish Hackney, the Jewish West End, and the Jewish City of London. Like Stephen Burstin, her most popular public tour, Jewish East End and Sandys Row, focuses on the Whitechapel area. You can expect a 2-hour walk that evokes the memory of the former Jewish area’s schools, soup kitchens, and synagogues.The Jewish East End walk is given about once a month. Book ahead because it often sells out.
Contact: http:// www.golondontours.com; telephone 020 8883 4169
Cost and schedules vary. Check the website for the public availability of other Jewish tours. If they are not available, book a private tour.
South Asian London
The Brick Lane Jamme Masjid Mosque used to be a synogogue and before that it was a Lutheran Church.
It feels wrong to group London’s South Asian community under one heading because it’s so diverse. The city is home to Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, and Sri Lankans, among others. Within those groups there are Sikhs, Hindus, and Muslims. They inhabit distinct neighborhoods of London. One of these neighborhoods is Southall in West London.
The Southall Tour with Monisha Bharadwaj
Monisha Bharadwaj offers the definitive walking tour of Southall, home to a large number of London’s South Asian community.
Contact: monishabharadwaj@ hotmail.com
When: Varies, but check the times at the website here.
Cost: £ 12 Length: 2 hours
Brick Lane Tours
While there is not a specific walking tour that focuses solely on Brick Lane’s Bengali community, there are a few resources that will help you create your own tour. British writer Tarquin Hall leads a Soundmap walking tour of Brick Lane. Hall recounts stories from his year spent living in the neighborhood, which eventually led to his book Salaam Brick Lane. Download the tour before you embark on the walk, which starts at Beigel Bake on Brick Lane.
The Tower Hamlets council offers a wonderful downloadable tour of Banglatown, Exploring Banglatown and Bengali East End. It’s not an audio tour, but it’s definitely the best resource for exploring the sheltered community. As the Jewish population left Brick Lane for “better” areas of London in the 1970s, the Bengalis moved in and replaced Jews in some of the sweatshops, opened up restaurants, and transformed the synagogue into a mosque.