At around the time when the British Imperialist was destroying the Yuan Ming Yuan in China, the first group of Chinese sailors arrived in Liverpool. From the late 1850s, they settled in Liverpool forming the start of its local Chinatown and the first Chinatown in UK and Europe.
During the Two World Wars, many Chinese residents of Liverpool Chinatown worked on ships plying across enemy lines.
After the war, many things changed in Liverpool Chinatown. There were efforts to reduce the Chinese population and many including those who had served during the war and those who had families were repatriated from the UK. Many families were separated as a result and Children grew up never knowing or ever seeing their fathers.
Even the Chinatown had physically changed. It was badly bombed during the war and as a result of post war planning, Liverpool Chinatown shifted to its current location around Nelson Street, Great George Street, Upper Parliament Street, Duke Street and Berry Street.
1997 - a turning point
More than a century after the emergence of Liverpool Chinatown, UK has become a very different place from its gun boat diplomacy past. The last of her Chinese colony Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997 and the British society has become multi-cultural celebrating its diverse heritage.
Liverpool Chinatown welcomed the new millennium with a Chinatown archway. While it was not the first archway in UK, it is the tallest archway in Europe and the second tallest after the Washington Chinatown archway.
Plans were also drawn to redevelop the area and Liverpool Chinatown became an important part of the Liverpool tourist landscape. The Chinese New Year celebration is a major local event with Chinese and many locals participating in its parade. See how Liverpool Chinatown celebrates their Chinese New Year.
Coming to terms with the past
Meanwhile, the past continue to have its effect on people whose live was changed. The children separated from their fathers discovered their past and with the support of local authorities, established a memorial to their fathers. This Liverpool Chinese Seamen memorial is located a short distance from Liverpool Chinatown.
Liverpool Chinatown is one of the most important Chinatowns in Europe tracing its history to the recent waves of Chinese arrival and the development of their relationship with host society.
It is a Chinatown worth visiting and to experience an important slice of overseas Chinese history.