Liverpool has the Oldest Chinatown in Europe

With Chinese New Year being celebrated on January 23rd, I thought it would be good to write about Liverpool and its vibrant Chinese community. Liverpool has the oldest Chinatown in Europe and is twinned with China’s most populous city, Shanghai. Why is there such a strong link between Liverpool and China?

It all began in the 19th century when trade links were formed with China. Chinese seamen arrived in Liverpool on the ships and many settled. In the years that followed, the Chinese community in Liverpool rapidly expanded. Today there are believed to be in the region of 35,000 Chinese people living in the city.

The result of this is lots of lovely Chinese restaurants, takeaways and supermarkets. There is never a short supply of Chinese food in Liverpool. Whether you want a nice quiet meal or a rowdy nightout at a buffet-style restaurant with karaoke (this does actually exist), there’s plenty to choose from. Liverpool Chinatown is located around Nelson Street, Duke Street and Berry Street.

In 2000, a ceremonial archway was erected at the entrance to Liverpool Chinatown, on Nelson Street. The separate pieces were made in Shanghai and it was put together by Chinese craftsman over here. It’s now considered to be a tourist attraction in itself. The colourful structure is made of wood and marble and features 200 dragons. It is the largest of its kind in Europe and, according to Chinese tradition, will protect the Chinatown from evil and bring good luck and fortune.

Chinese culture is very much a part of Liverpool and there are a number of organisations celebrating this fact, including the internationally acclaimed Liverpool Cantonese Opera Society. Both English and Chinese can be studied at the Pagoda Chinese Community Centre and there are groups established such as the Chi Kung Tong (part of the Chinese Freemasonry) and the Liverpool Chinese Youth Orchestra.

 

4 Comments

  1. January 22, 2012 / 18:34

    Great post – I had absolutely NO idea at all that Liverpool had such a vibrant Chinatown. I wish I’d had known sooner, I’d have tried to get over there for the Lunar New Year celebrations! Thanks for posting this :)

  2. January 22, 2012 / 19:44

    Hi Tom, thank you. To be honest, I never realised how established the Chinatown was until I visited the Museum of Liverpool last year, which has an exhibition on the links with China. It’s a shame I wasn’t home this week to join in the celebrations.

  3. January 23, 2012 / 19:07

    Nice! I also had no idea either. Here in San Fran we have a big one – I like it more than the one in New York. I love the cheap food – my favorite restaurant is in a basement…not big on atmosphere, but great eats!

  4. January 24, 2012 / 17:46

    Thanks Nick, hope you had fun if you joined in with the San Fran celebrations, or at least had some of that lovely Chinese food.