©Jewish Museum, London

London East End Tailoring Workshop, c.1913 Photograph from the collection of the Jewish Museum London

Between 1881 and 1914, some 150,000 Jewish immigrants arrived in Britain, escaping from persecution in Eastern Europe. The new arrivals settled in London's East End and in centres such as Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool and Glasgow. Many of the immigrants tried to earn a living in tailoring workshops, and in other workshop trades such as cabinet making and shoe making. Working conditions were extremely hard with long hours, low pay, overcrowding and seasonal unemployment.

In later years, Jewish firms were to make an important contribution to the development of the ready-to-wear garment industry, in particular for women. Jewish firms also made a major contribution to the furniture trade, which is recorded in a Jewish Museum publication Immigrant Furniture Makers in London 1881-1939 by William Massil.

At the Jewish Museum, Finchley, the permanent exhibition The Tailor, The Baker, The Cabinet Maker features a reconstructed tailoring workshop, with hands-on activities for children.