Migration has always been a large topic in London, contrary to popular belief. Many believe that it is a recent phenomenon but in fact migration dates all the way past even the Roman empire. I will start with the Roman empire however since that is my main area of thought and pleasure. Starting in around 55BC, Julius Caesar attempted twice to invade the Britons. It wasn’t until around the year 78AD that the Romans defeated most of the Briton’s army and conquered northern England and Wales. This invasion was a form of migration. The Romans traveled from Rome to settle new lands and find new treasures.
Fast forward to modern times, and in the mid-1700s Britain saw its own form of migration. The industrial revolution changed the way the city both operated and looked. Many country folks moved from rural England into London in search of jobs in the new factories. By 1850, London had become the wealthiest city in the world. The living conditions during this time were substandard for the working class and even at times downright appalling. The streets were littered and the apartments were cramped with several people living in a room the same size as the dorm room I’m writing this in now.
These people may not have migrated from another country, but they migrated from within their own lands. By 1900, London had over 4.5 million citizens. For comparison, the second largest city in Britain, Glasgow, had 760,000. By the turn of the 20th century, London was the capital of one of the largest empires in history.
However, the outbreak of World War I brought about a new time of migration, this time in a different direction. The air raids of London and the atrocities of the war forced many people to flee the city and country. Instead of moving towards the city they moved away to America and other countries.
The Great Depression, or as it was known in the UK The Great Slump, hit London in the 1930s. The Great Slump originated in the United States in 1929. However, since Britain did not experience the boom that the United States and other countries did they did not have as severe of an effect. The second world war came to England in 1940 in the form of the German blitz. The blitz devastated the London landscape and many historical landmarks had to be rebuilt. The raids caused many to once again flee the country. This migration had a lasting impact on the economy of London and all of England.
After the conclusion of World War II, many began to move back and the rebuilding process began. The air raids destroyed many historical and government buildings. St. Paul’s Cathedral survived through the entire attack and stood as a sign of hope and courage to Londoners. Post World War II saw one of the greatest influx of migrants in England. This trend continued throughout the second half of the 20th century. The 1940s saw the people of the Caribbean making their way into England to help supply labor. In the 1960s, Britain began welcoming those in the commonwealth to move to England. This brought in migration from all over the world including India and Kenya. This policy began to become more restrictive towards the end of the decade but the impact of those that had made their way had already been felt. This short history of the hundreds of years of migration to England shows that migration is not a new topic. Those who say this newest wave from the Middle East is a threat and unprecedented have not done their research. Most of the prejudice against these groups has come from ignorance. My goal with this post is to educate some to read upon their own history before making claims that migrants ruin the country.