London - LABOURING CITY 2: Global Labour

Season 2, Ep. 2

In this episode, we catch a glimpse of how London’s economy relied on labour from around the world – and how the East End’s workers were subject to the markets of the City.

We start in front of Whitechapel Station and end up in Spital Square. Throughout, we see a contrast between the skyscraping wealth of the City and the lower-slung buildings of the East End. We also discover the way the latter has built up over time. Its slow spread out from the city in the 17th and 18th centuries, as demand grew for skilled manufactures (bells, silk). Its explosive growth in the 19th, as people flocked to the city from the country and abroad, as the price of labour was driven down, and as poverty, overcrowding, and disease began to spread. Finally, its slow “recovery” in the late 20th century, as creatives, city workers, and corporate headquarters began to move east. The streets are also marked by the communities who have passed through them. French Protestants, Ashkenazi Jews, South Asian Muslims. The work of London has often been done by people from elsewhere - we pick up some of their stories in our third and final episode.

Click here for the map and full transcript.

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PRODUCER: Jelena Sofronijevic

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