Photography by Adrien @ The Sangha Kommune

Tower Hamlets has the largest Chinese population of any London borough

The long-established Chinese community in Tower Hamlets makes up 3.3% of the borough’s total population making it one of the largest Chinese populations in England and Wales. 

Data published recently by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) from the Census 2021 has found the local Chinese population in Tower Hamlets is the third highest proportion in England and Wales, behind the City of London and Cambridge.

The Chinese population in Tower Hamlets makes up 3.3% of the borough’s total population. The Chinese community has deep roots in Tower Hamlets and between the 1800s and early 1960s, the borough was the centre of London’s Chinese community.

Some of the earliest settlers were Chinese sailors who sought accommodation in the Docklands area after they had been discharged from East India Company ships.

Many of them went on to marry local women and set up businesses in the food and laundry trades. This in turn led to Limehouse being coined Chinatown.

The legacy of the inhabitants of London’s first Chinatown can still be seen today. This includes the Chinese Association of Tower Hamlets, which can be found on Commercial Road near the historic Chinatown.

The Association was established in 1983 and has been serving the local Chinese community for 40 years.

The Census is carried out every 10 years by the ONS on all households in England and Wales. It provides a snapshot of the nation overall on the day on which it was carried out, 21 March 2021. For the first time, the census was primarily held online.

The Census provides a huge amount of data on a range of topics including demography, housing, and ethnicity. This data tells us a lot about the characteristics of a local population and is used by organisations such as local governments to plan and fund public services.

Further information on the 2021 Census can be found on the Census website

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