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London station gets Bengali language signage

Bengali is spoken by over 71,500 of the city's residents



By Prasun Sonwalkar

Published: Tue 22 Mar 2022, 1:53 PM

The multicultural reality of London has found a further reflection with Whitechapel Station on the Tube network getting a sign in Bengali, to acknowledge the contribution of the Bangladesh community to east London.

Hundreds of languages have been spoken through the long history of London, making it linguistically the most diverse capital in the world. Southall station in west London bears the sign in Punjabi, besides English, reflecting the large Punjab-origin community in the area.

The 2011 Census classified 88 main languages and identified Polish as London’s top non-English language, while recent research suggests that the top place has been taken over by Bengali (including Sylheti and Chatgaya).

Bengali is spoken by over 71,500 London residents (mostly of Bangladesh origin) across three boroughs: 3 per cent of Camden residents say it is their main language at home, as do 7 per cent of Newham residents and 18 per cent in Tower Hamlets.

John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, and Saida Muna Tasneem, High Commissioner of Bangladesh visited Whitechapel to view the new signage and tour the new-look station. The Tower Hamlets Council has funded the dual language signs in English and Bengali outside and throughout the station.

Tower Hamlets has the biggest Bangladeshi community in the UK with around a third of residents of Bangladeshi heritage. Iconic areas and institutions near to Whitechapel station include Brick Lane and the East London Mosque. This year the borough has also been celebrating 50 years of independence for Bangladesh.

The improvements to Whitechapel station are part of the introduction of the new Elizabeth Line which has two stations in Tower Hamlets – Whitechapel and Canary Wharf. The Elizabeth Line is due to open in the first half of this year and will mean people travelling from Whitechapel can get a direct train through central London to Paddington in just 15 minutes.

Biggs said: “Following our successful year of celebrations to mark 50 years of Bangladeshi independence, it is fantastic that the signs have been installed in time for Bangladesh Independence Day on Saturday 26 March.”

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, said: “London’s diversity is its greatest strength. The revamped signs at Whitechapel station recognise and celebrate the vital contribution Bangladeshi Londoners have made in shaping the community in Tower Hamlets and throughout our city. I’m delighted that they have been installed ahead of Bangladesh Independence Day on Saturday 26th March”.

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