Lascars in Wandsworth

In the early nineteenth century, thousands of Lascars settled in Britain. The word Lascars was a European term for the many non-European seamen who were recruited to work on merchant ships as they voyaged back to Britain, usually from India or the West Indies.

They were paid 15% less than British seamen, and on some ships were treated extremely badly, even by the standards of the time: there are reports of Muslim seamen forced to eat pork, and being hung up with weights attached to their feet, for example.

Unsurprising, then, that many left their ship on arrival in Britain, and sought other work. Many of them worked on the River Wandle, sailing to the dying works at Merton Abbey Mills and William Morris's Liberty works in Wimbledon.

Read more stories about the nineteenth century.

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Read more stories about Wandsworth.

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Picture by William Morris, St James wallpaper.
Story source: Tara Arts, Sailing to Britain education pack.