Brick Lane, London

Brick Lane

Whatever you’re looking for, you’ll probably find it at London’s Brick Lane – whether it relates to a property search, a unique outfit, authentic crafts, or a good curry. In this diverse and up-and-coming area, the only issue a buying agent might encounter is (possibly) too much choice. (Well, that and the fact that many people on the property finder treasure hunt are now realising the potential of Brick Lane.)

Why is it called Brick Lane?

The street wasn’t always called Brick Lane. Until the brick and tiling companies moved in, around the 15th century, it was known as Whitechapel Lane. In the 16th century, French Huguenots fleeing persecution came here, and in the 19th and early 20th centuries Irish and Jewish immigrants settled in the area.

In Victorian times, the area was associated with Jack the Ripper – but don’t let that put you off a property search. A canny property finder will quickly spot that there’s no lack of interest in London’s most notorious unsolved murder mysteries. The Ten Bells pub, allegedly frequented by unfortunate Mary Kelly and Annie Chapman, still exists, and still sells pretty decent beer as well as the occasional exhibition; and the old Truman Brewery, now an arts centre amongst other functions, is another major attraction. The whole area is also pretty popular with people looking to trace their East End ancestors.

Arts and crafts and so much more

Like your jewellery, handbags, clothing and crafts to be that little bit ahead of the curve? This is the perfect place to spot rising star designers. Want to do your bit for the environment? You can pick and choose from vintage and pre-loved stalls and outlets as well as exclusive boutiques. Quite apart from the green angle, the chances of having something no one else has are so much higher with up-cycled or recycled items. This probably isn’t an area for those who like to blend in too much with the conventional corporate crowd – although it does provide an excellent antidote to the rat race.

Eat, drink and be ever so merry

Diversity is a huge feature of the area, famous for its authentic Bangladeshi dishes. One affectionate nickname is “Banglatown”, with over 50 Indian restaurants nearby (including one thought to be favoured by Prince Charles).

If you’re not a curry fan, though, don’t worry – you’ll not go hungry. You can also sink your teeth into a fresh bagel, doughnut, or traditional Japanese noodle dish. You’ll find quirky food outlets aplenty, mostly independent with a strong sense of identity (and humour) – from corner cafes selling just about every breakfast cereal you can think of, and then some, to gastropubs and restaurants with views over London from 40 floors up.

If it’s edgy, or on the verge of being trendy, you’ll probably find it here – whether it’s bubble tea or craft beer. On Sundays this already vibrant area really comes to life with the market, from 10am to 5pm (open other days as well).

Live music is everywhere too; there are great community gardens; and no matter where you look you’ll see unique street art. A few years ago Banksy stencils would mysteriously materialise – which does still happen occasionally. There are still a few classic pictures dotted about, and he definitely put the place on the map.

Getting there

Brick Lane is ideal for commuters, with excellent public transport routes. The nearest mainline station is Liverpool Street, around 10 minutes’ walk away. The nearest Overground is Shoreditch High Street; nearest Undergrounds are Liverpool Street for Central, Circle, Metropolitan and Hammersmith & City; or Aldgate East for District and Hammersmith & City. And if you’d rather bus it, over a dozen buses link you with the rest of London, including several that go to the City.

Property finder – what to look out for

Buying agents will be quick to point out the sheer range of properties. With all those old factories, loft or warehouse conversions are plentiful, but there are standard brick-built terraced houses too, and commercial options if you’re planning on setting up shop. The Royal London hospital is nearby; schools in the area are generally pretty decent. This is an area to watch closely in terms of property searching; in the last decade, overall values have more or less doubled, although rents remain a little below the London average.

Brick Lane: cool, vibrant, quirky, eclectic; ideal for serious property finders. Just be quick before everyone else finds out…

James Nightingall