The Battle of Plassey Young People’s Project (BPYPP)

The Battle of Plassey Young People’s Project
The Battle that changed East End

Press Release – 1 June 2008

Brick Lane Circle is delighted to announce that it has received a grant of £46,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to engage a group of young people (18-25) to explore East London’s historical links with Bengal through researching and writing about the area’s East India Company sites. 

The project idea emerged out of the series of events that Brick Lane Circle organized in  June 2007 to commemorate the 250 Years Anniversary of the Battle of Plassey (23 June 1757), when the British achieved victory in Bengal under Robert Clive.  It was also the beginning of the British Indian Empire, under the banner of the English East India Company.  The research findings will be put together in a publication, which will be launched during October 2008 Black History Month at a specially organized event at the Museum in Docklands.  An exhibition illustrating the work of the young people, historical paintings and photographs and important documents will accompany the publication.  The work of the young people will be made electronically available and an education pack will be developed. 

The young people will undertake research on a number of East India Company sites in East London, an area dotted with important locations and buildings that have historical links with Bengal.  It is also the home of
the largest concentration of Bangladeshi people in the UK.  The 250 Years anniversary events of the British conquest of Bengal (organized by Brick Lane Circle during June 2007) provided a focus for generating interest in learning about the shared heritage of East London.  The young researchers will be primarily recruited from the London Borough of Tower Hamlets and given workshops, guided tours, mentoring support and assistance in writing their chapters.  These activities will help familiarise participants about important East India Company sites and their historical links with Bengal and provide guidance on the sources of information. 

The East India Company first traded with the East and then conquered vast areas and ancient civilizations for Britain.  It played a very important role in the British economic and imperial history for 250 years, starting from 1600 when the company was first chartered by Queen Elizabeth I.  The successes and benefits that the Company achieved for Britain also had devastating consequences for India and Bengal in particular.  This project will bring
this shared history to light and generate interest widely through exploring and sharing knowledge about East India Company sites in East London .  

It is envisaged that by becoming familiar with East India company locations and sites and their historical roles, the diverse communities in East London will develop a greater sense of connectivity and linked roots.  This will increase the levels of interest on local heritage; enable more people to develop deeper intellectual, creative and leisure interactions with the area’s past and help improve community cohesion.

The information generated and disseminated will result in a renewed level of interest on the heritage of East London, especially among the local Bangladeshi population, which means that there will be an increase in the level of desire to discover, preserve and publicise the importance of local heritage.  More local people will understand and appreciate the value of many buildings and sites that they see every day around them – which previously had very little relevance to their life – and develop a deeper historical and worldwide perspective of their neighbourhoods.

The project will help diverse groups who live in the area to develop a greater level of understanding about how their neighbourhoods and surrounding areas are connected and the historical and local heritage sites will provide the anchor for such connections.  This will enable people to develop a deeper appreciation of their shared and historically linked roots and thereby enhance the scope of celebrating both local heritage and the valuing of diversity.

For more details please visit, phone 07903 671 787 or email [email protected].

The previous Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Cllr Ann Jackson, said that she is delighted to hear the news and will personally support the project. 

“This is an excellent project which will bring to life the East India Company’s legacy in London”.  Nick Robins (author of ‘The Corporation That Changed the World: How the East India Company Shaped the Modern Multinational’).

Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund, London, Sue Bowers said: “This project will bring to light a history shared by Britain and India over hundreds of years by relating it directly to sites associated with the East India Company in London.  While researching, the young people will also gain skills in writing, photography, planning and team working.”