That’s where the Petticoat Lane Heritage Trail comes in. This self-led trail was brought to life by London Historic Buildings Trust, who worked with local people to discover and share stories that are significant to the people who live, work, and study in the area. Created for both local residents and visitors alike, the Trail shares historic photographs and stories of people and landmarks that were famous on the Lane.
The Project is in two parts. Phase 1 has now been completed and funding is being sought for Phase 2.
The Petticoat Lane Heritage Trail is part of the wider High Street Heritage Action Zone Scheme, funded by Historic England and supported by London Borough of Tower Hamlets.
Phase 1: The Process
Petticoat Lane has a rich history and a reputation for being an exciting and vibrant marketplace that people have been visiting to trade, buy, work, and socialise for centuries. The area has long been home to various migrant groups such as the Huguenots in the 17th century, Jewish migrants in the 19th century, and more recently South Asian communities in the 20th century. The movement of different communities through in the area has left a rich tapestry of culture, business, and architecture, some of which can still be explored today. However, there are still so many stories from the Market that have been hidden from the popular histories of the East End.
Part 1: November 2021 – May 2022
Collaborate with 4 local people who researched aspects of Petticoat Lane’s history that matters to them
Deliver a series of workshops around the area to local young people in schools, residents, and visitors to Wentworth Street Market
Work with design agency, make:good to install a pilot temporary trail around the Lane, linking to online content showcasing the work of our Community Researchers
Produce concept designs for a permanent installation around the area, mapping the physical Heritage Trail
Phase 2: September 2022 – March 2024
Continue working with local people to research more historical stories
Further develop links with communities and record contemporary stories with local residents to incorporate into the trail
Deliver more workshops and consultation on the permanent trail in schools, community centres, and on the Market
Install the permanent physical trail and build on our existing online content, providing more historical and contemporary stories to explore
Train and support local people in delivering walking tours based on the Heritage Trail
make:good is a socially engaged design and architecture studio working to involve people in shaping neighbourhood change across London. They use their creative expertise to co-design local solutions, as well as harnessing local assets, building relationships and supporting communities to create lasting social infrastructure.
London Historic Buildings Trust is a historic building preservation charity working across London to restore and reuse historic buildings at risk. They work collaboratively with communities to deliver high-quality heritage projects and ensure that buildings best meet the needs of local people.
“In my early twenties I investigated the history of my house and its environs, awakening my interest in social history. On returning to London eleven years ago I discovered opportunities to develop this interest and became involved in research projects centring around my part of the City and East End. I have enjoyed the chance to participate in this programme in order to explore the stories, through maps, of Petticoat Lane and the plot of land now occupied by the Middlesex Street Estate”
“Growing up in Poplar I’ve always been enamoured by its history of docks and rebellion, but it made me understand just how little many of us know about our own local history. It’s one of the main reasons I wanted to be part of this heritage trail for Petticoat Lane and Wentworth Street; a deeper understanding of migration, communities and architecture can provide us with larger perspectives for these small areas. My research focused mainly on the Jewish community in the area as well as any lasting pieces of architecture I could find and unpacking the rich stories cemented into the bricks and mortar.”
“I was born and brought up in Tower Hamlets. I’m researching the contributions of Bengal and Bengalis in the UK to reflect a multicultural society in order to challenge some of the misconceptions and misrepresentations in history.”
“I was first attracted to the project because in the early 20th century one of my distant relatives used to make a few extra pennies as a boy by juggling to entertain the crowds on Petticoat Lane. This connection and my own background in performance, made me think about Petticoat Lane Market as not just a site of commerce but as a site of entertainment and excitement. With this in mind, my research led to me finding out about some larger-than-life Petticoat Lane characters as well as finding plenty of evidence that the market was a character in itself.”