Orthodox Jews find their promised land on Canvey Island
Canvey Island on the Thames estuary has a couple of football clubs, a static caravan park, an average house price of £230,000 and a population of about 38,000. It is a far cry from Stamford Hill, north London, which teems with synagogues, bakeries and £1 million houses, where almost the same number of people live in the strictly orthodox Jewish community.
Despite being worlds apart, overcrowding, soaring house prices and a fast-growing population of large families means that the Haredi Jews, the biggest such population in Europe, have sought a new outpost, and now they have settled on the Essex island.
Ten years ago the community discussed moving en masse to Milton Keynes but the plans never materialised. Pioneers have instead headed 40 miles away to Canvey Island, near Southend, with seven families in the vanguard.
It is not one of Britain’s most cosmopolitan areas. The island is within one of the ten most pro-Brexit wards and was one of Ukip’s target seats in last year’s general election. Fewer than five per cent of its population was born abroad and it is 98 per cent white.
Joel and Mindy Friedman are among those who have moved an hour’s drive from Stamford Hill to Canvey with their six children.