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Our Brick Lane


Brick LaneOur Brick Lane is an oral history and film making project and over the past 14 months has worked with young people from the Bengali and Somali communities of Spitalfields. Using oral history techniques they have helped to retrieve from oblivion, the experiences of their elders in Brick Lane since the 1960s, as well as uncovering the memories of the former Jewish residents of the area. The project has produced a series of documentary films made by a group of young Somali and Bengali boys, themselves, and forms a part of the education pack.


The young people researched the history of the Brick Lane area and used archived material from the Jewish Free School, visited the Jewish Museum, British Museum, Museum of London, and received talks about the history of the area.

The young people attended over 40 workshops, which involved training in oral history interviewing, video camera recording, sound recording and editing, music mixing and video editing, and assisted interviewing over 30 elders from the Jewish, Bengali and Somali communities.

We have also been working closely with the Surma Elders group (Toynbee Hall). Here is an extract from one of the Bengali Elder’s experiences about living in the area:

“We’d watch Bengali films in Naz, brick lane. There was one place we’d get together – Mussa’s place, a café. I used to go there – everyone did – young, old. I went there around 1965, but it existed before that – the seamen before us used to go there. It was in Brick lane, near the railway bridge. There were many English people there too. People would just gather there, to eat.”


Our Brick Lane: Historical Photos


Our Brick Lane Workshop Photos

Our Brick Lane: Workshop Photos


Our Brick Lane Workshop Photos

Our Brick Lane: Glossary


Ashkenazi – Jewish Community from Eastern Europe

Beis Hamidrush – House of Learning – a small synagogue usually in a room of a house

Challah – Plated loaf of bread especially for Sabbath

Daven – Pray

Kaddish – Memorial prayer

Kipot – Skullcap

Kosher – Food in accordance with Jewish law

Minyan – Group of ten men over the age of 13 needed for a prayer service

Shamas – Synagogue administrator especially for the services

Stiebl – Small Prayer House, usually in a room of a house

Synagogue – Prayer house

Tefilin – Small leather cases containing parchment with paragraphs from the bible, to be attached to the left hand and head by men during prayer

Tallis – Prayer shawl


Eid-ul-Fitr – A religious festival that Muslims celebrate to mark end of the Islamic calendar month of Ramadan(month of fasting)

Eid-ul-Adha – The Festival of Sacrifice. Four day celebration starting on the tenth day of the Islamic calender month of Dhul-Hijja.

Halal – Anything permissible according to Islamic Law. It is most frequently used to refer to ‘food’

Prayer mat – is a piece of fabric (often decorated) used by Muslims during their five daily prayers.

Salah – is the ritual prayer practised by Muslims in supplication to God. The term is used to refer to the five daily prayers.

Sylhet – Is a district in eastern Bangladesh where most of Tower Hamlets Bengali communities originate from.