Population change in East London

Key stage 4 Geography

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

Learning outcomes

Most students will be able to:

Carry out a population survey, classifying people by age and ethnic group

Identify changes in building use from old photos

Carry out a residents’ questionnaire to find out why people move

Categorise and map shops and services

Find evidence of past and present migration from photos and buildings

Describe how population in Spitalfields has changed from census data

Suggest why population is changing

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. Students view the area through the eyes of different characters and describe their reaction to what they see. Notice the proximity of the area to the City of London and explain the changes to Spitalfields Market.


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