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The East India Company has now disappeared almost without trace. There are a few physical remains in London, like the empty basins of the East India Docks now ringed by skyscrapers. Yet the effects of its trade are still all around, in British mass consumer tastes, in the English language and in our very society.

With the success of the Company, the products of Asia became part of the British way of life. There were new foods and drinks, different and exciting clothes, and items for the home such as teapots and porcelain ornaments, furniture and textiles. Shopping itself became a leisure activity.

Today’s coffee shops and Indian restaurants are just part of the legacy. Our multi-ethnic and multicultural Britain is another.

The number of Asians coming to Britain was very low at first. Company employees brought back Indian domestic servants, and Indian and Chinese seamen, known as lascars, were occasionally employed on Company ships. By the 1790s there were significant numbers in London, often living in the most sordid conditions. Many returned to Asia but a few lascars remained. They would form the first of the Asian dockland communities which grew up in all the major ports of Victorian Britain.

  map   Mahomed’s Baths
   

Crutchley's new plan of London, including East India Docks, 1826
Maps Crace Port vi.226
(click image to enlarge)

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‘Mahomed’s Baths’ at Brighton in 1826
T12646
(click image to enlarge)

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Chinese furniture  
   

Chinese furniture from the East India Company
Chinese export painting of bamboo furniture made for the East India Company. 19th century
Add. Or.2331
(click image to enlarge)

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World in 1600Getting ThereBantamExpansionIndiaChinaImpactsHOMECONTACT US SITE MAP

Final Years of the EICOverview Asia on BritainBritain on Asia