Saturday, 6 July 2013

Liverpool - China Town and Arch

Liverpool has one of the oldest established Chinese communities in Europe.The trade links between China and Britain, via the ports of Shanghai and Liverpool were instrumental in the establishment of a Chinese community within the city. The main trading goods were silk and cotton wool. The first vessel arrived in Liverpool direct from China in 1834. With the revision of the East India Company´s charter, the China trade was the first time thrown open to private enterprise.
The first wave of Chines immigrants arrived in 1866 with the establishment of the Blue Funnel Shipping Line, a branch of the Holt Ocean Steamship Company, which ran a line of steamers directly from Liverpool to China.
Chinese sailors who decided to stay in Liverpool and work from here settled in an area of the city that was close to the docks in Cleveland Square. Boarding houses were first opened by the Holt Shipping Company to accomodate their workers. It was here and in the surrounding streets that the first Chinese settlers started their own business supplying services to their countrymen.
When World War One started there were up to 6000 Chinese seamen in the British Merchant Navy and around 1500 of them were based in Liverpool. After the war, the settlement spread slowly inland into the side streets.
The demolition of the area, known as Chinatown, began as part of the 1930s council scheme to replace the old insanitary courts and warehouses with modern buildings. This plan was met with resistance from members of the community.
It was at this time due to the general economic depression and immigration restriction that the Chinese community in Liverpool saw a reduction of its population size.
The bombing of Liverpool in the 1940s destroyed much of the old Chinatown. Members of the community were moved into new tenements.
Today members of the Chinese community no longer restricts their business interests to Chinatown and shops and clubs are spread throughout the Merseyside area.

The Chinese Arch is the largest outside mainland China, standing approcimately 13,5m i height, it was shipped piece by piece in five 40 foot containers from Shanghai, Liverpool´s twin city, and erected here on Nelson Street in January 2000.
The Liverpool Chinese Community initiated the construction of the Arch in 1994.
The Arch is a representation of the partnership between the public sectors of the Chinese Community and the private sectors.
The Arch incorporates the principles of the Chinese art of Feng Shui in it´s design, decoration and positioning. The construction team consisted of ten craftsmen, specifically selected from Shanghai to undertake the project, in addition to a local construction firm.
The material used were marble and wood. The Arch has 200 hand painted dragons, 188 of these are male, 12 female.
The Arch is symbolic of the friendship between the two seafaring cities. Since its construction it has become the focal point for Liverpool´s annual New Year festivities.


  1. Good grief - you actually checked the sex of 200 dragons. I AM impressed