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|Migration Histories > Jewish > Journeys|
The Jews who came into Britain in the late 19th and early 20th centuries via Hull and Grimsby were mostly transmigrants, crossing the country on their way to the United States and Canada. Though many stayed a few weeks, months or even years in northern England, saving enough to travel onwards, the majority came on a through-ticket that included the cost of travel from continental Europe, a train journey across Britain, and then the boat across the Atlantic.
Those who arrived via the Humber to settle permanently in Britain would arrive at either Hull (from Bremen, Libau and Hamburg) or Grimsby (from Hamburg, Antwerp or Rotterdam). Between 1891 and 1901, approximately 30,000-70,000 Russian and Polish nationals arrived through these Humber ports. Of these, the majority (63 per cent) arrived via Grimsby.
The Jewish immigrants who settled in northern England - particularly in Grimsby, Hull, Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool - came mostly from modern day Lithuania. With few printed guides on the best ways to travel, the Litvak immigrant typically travelled along established routes suggested by friends and relatives of those who had already emigrated.
The journey usually involved either travel by train to a Baltic port and then transport by steamship to Britain, or a journey on foot to the Russian border with Germany, followed by train to a North Sea port from which they could travel by ship to Britain.
The migrants left home carrying the few personal possessions they could not bear to leave behind, such as candlesticks (an important part of ritual life), any tools of trade they had, and family photographs, along with a small amount of food for the journey - usually pickled herrings and rye bread.
The stories of life in the Pale, and the real reasons why people emigrated to Britain, were often distorted by second and third generation immigrants. For many of those living in the Litvak parts of the Pale, economic and not political reasons were the motive for emigration.
Creators: Nicholas J Evans
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