Throughout the nineteenth century, economic migrants arrived in Britain from Germany in search of work. Usually single men from rural districts, the new arrivals headed for London looking for openings as tailors, waiters, bakers and clerks. The 1861 census returns recorded around 16,000 Germans in London. The 1911 census returns show this figure had risen to around 27,000. By the late nineteenth century the German diaspora in London had established schools, churches, unions, shops, hospital and social clubs – including a German branch of the Young Men’s Christian Association or YMCA. With the outbreak of the First World War entirely altering how Germans were viewed and treated in Britain, their story of arrival and settlement has never received the attention it warrants from historians. This selection of advertisements from 1901 offer a reminder of a time when the Germans were a significant minority presence in London, possessing a range of spaces within which to drink, shop, read, eat, learn and socialise with their fellow countrymen and women.
With thanks to Luke Parks for sharing his unpublished MA thesis with me, ‘Integration or Alienation? London’s German Community 1901-1918,’ Open University, January 2013. Thanks, too, to Bishopsgate Institute for allowing me to reproduce these images from ‘Fuhrer durch London’ (1902) from the London Collection, Bishopsgate Library and Archive.