UGEL logo and strapline


Population change in east London

Enquiry question: How and why is population changing in Spitalfields?
Learning objectives

    Knowledge and understanding

    • East London has a long history of migration, both in and out
    • Bangladeshis make up a large proportion of the population in Spitalfields
    • Spitalfields is being gentrified as wealthier people move in and poorer people move out 

      Geographical skills

      • Carry out a population survey
      • Identify changes in building use from old photos
      • Carry out a residents’ questionnaire
      • Categorise and map shops and services


      Pre-visit recommendation

      Locate Spitalfields on a map of London. Research historic population of the area from 1901 census.

      Study more recent profile of Spitalfields population from 2001 census.


      Sheet 1: Spitalfields 1901 census

      Sheet 2: Spitalfields 2001 census


      Meet at Liverpool Street station. Walk to Spitalfields. Notice the proximity of the area to the City of London and explain the changes to Spitalfields Market. Students view the area through the eyes of different characters and describe their reaction to what they see. They continue in their character during the day, reflecting on what they see through the eyes of that character.


      Sheet 3: Character trail


      Location 1: Brick Lane Walk along Brick Lane to locate the buildings in old photos to find out how they are used now. Model with students how to carry out a population survey. Divide class into smaller groups for students to carry out survey at different points along Brick Lane. Share findings and compare the points along Brick Lane, and also compare with 2001 census.

      Location 2: Around Brick Lane Point out that this area has a mixture of residents and tourists. Identify whether shops and services are mainly for local people, tourists or both. Walk around the area to categorise and map shops and services onto a base map.

      Location 3: Hanbury Street Walk east to Hanbury Street. Point out that this area is mainly residential and more representative of the established population. Students carry out another population survey in this area. Split the class for a residents’ questionnaire. One group carries out the questionnaire around Hnabury Street, while the other group goes back to Brick Lane.


      Sheet 4: Old photos of Brick Lane

      Sheet 5: Population survey

      Sheet 6: Spitalfields map

      Sheet 7: Residents’ questionnaire


      Students reflect on different fieldwork methods used during the day, what they tell us about population change, how reliable each method is and how they could be improved.

      Share findings from the day. What evidence is there of past population change? What evidence is there that population is still changing? Who is leaving and who is moving in? Why?


      Sheet 8: Population change in Spitalfields

      Footer image of Stratford
      Footer image
      Footer image of Stratford