• British Chinese Heritage Centre


    A cyber centre created by Ming-Ai (London) Institute, hosting the projects that preserve and exhibit information about the culture heritage stories of the British Chinese.


  • GALLERY  展廳 

    Enjoy past exhibitions and project photo albums.



  • LIBRARY  資料館

    Find articles, lesson plans and other education resources.



  • Interviews 採訪

    Discover the history of the British Chinese.



  • THEATRE  影院

    Watch project video and videos of our interviewees to learn more about their experiences.



This project started and ended in one bitterly cold winter, we also arranged an 8-day field trip during December 2009 to visit different places to collect local information and to take photos for the photo gallery, these visits were vital to the project as we created history when tracing the history.

Bristol (12 Dec 2009)

Bristol played an extremely important role in sea trade for hundreds of years. By 1914, there were reported to be five Chinese families living in Bristol. In that year, Hong Pang (c.1890-1958) arrived in Bristol. He was a ship’s laundry worker from Canton (Guangzhou). Hong Pang settled in the Horfield district of the city and established a laundry business that lasted for several generations.

Cardiff (13 Dec 2009)

During the Transport Workers’ Strike of July 1911 in Cardiff, every one of the city's thirty-three Chinese laundries was attacked against a background of hostility towards the Chinese community. 

Birmingham (14 Dec 2009)

Birmingham is about as far away from the sea as you can get in Britain. This helps explain why Chinese settlement there is relatively recent compared to coastal cities like London, Liverpool and Cardiff. In those places, Chinese seafarers on ships brought goods from Asia and populated the historic Chinatowns of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Birmingham's Chinese population is the result of a largely post-war migration. Prior to 1945, there were only a few dozen Chinese people in the city. Birmingham’s Chinese Quarter was officially recognized in the 1980s. The city is home to the headquarters of the Chinese supermarket chain W. Wing Yip Plc. 

Manchester (15 Dec 2009)

The first Chinese immigrants arrived in Manchester in the early 20th century, but the biggest wave of Chinese immigration came in the 1950s. They were Hakkanese from the New Territories of Hong Kong as the government had decided to build on their land to cater for the growing population. This left the people of low factory wages, so immigration became their best option. The first Chinese restaurant opened in 1948 named ‘Ping Hong’. In 1987, the completion of Manchester's Chinatown archway was the largest in Europe at that time. Manchester's Chinatown on Faulkner Street is the second largest in Britain after London's Soho Chinatown. Wai Yin Chinese Women Society is the largest Chinese community organisation in the UK. 

Liverpool (16 Dec 2009)

The first presence of Chinese people in Liverpool dated back to the early 19th century, but the main influx arrival at the end of the 19th century. In 1942, a strike was held by Chinese sailors in Liverpool for equal pay to that of local seamen. The strike lasted for four months. The strike was ultimately unsuccessful, resulting in the Chinese being forbidden shore jobs and being offered one-way voyages back to China. The Chinese archway erected in Liverpool in 2000 superseded Manchester’s as the largest in Europe. In 2006, a memorial plaque in remembrance of the Chinese sailors expelled from Britain in the late 1940s was erected on Liverpool's Pier Head. 

Morecambe Bay (17 Dec 2009)

Morecambe Bay is a large bay in northwest England. It is the largest expanse of intertidal mudflats and sand in the UK, covering a total area of 310 km². The Morecambe Bay cockling disaster occurred on the evening of 5 February 2004 when 23 Chinese cockle pickers were drowned by the incoming tide off the coast. A total of 21 bodies, of men and women between the ages of 18 and 45, were recovered from the bay after the incident. 15 cockle pickers survived. 

Glasgow (18 Dec 2009)

The Chinese community in Scotland, originating from both mainland China and Hong Kong, numbered just over 10,000, with the most significant population in Glasgow. Glasgow's Chinatown in Cowcaddens features a traditional Chinese pagoda entrance using materials imported from the Orient. The first Chinese restaurant in Glasgow was the Wah Yen in Govan Road, opened by Jimmy Yih in the late 1940s. In 1953, there were only three Chinese families living in Glasgow, and it is believed that about 3,000 Chinese people were resident there in 1994. 

Newcastle (19 Dec 2009)

In 1949, the first Chinese restaurant opened in Newcastle upon Tyne. In 1988, Chinese businesses in Stowell Street – Newcastle Chinatown – were allowed to display signs in Chinese as well as English. Nowadays the Chinatown incorporates the area from Stowell Street to Westgate Road. According to the BBC, Newcastle Chinatown is also undergoing regeneration. A gateway costing £160,000 was constructed by Mainland Chinese in 2005. 

Sheffield(20 Dec 2009)

Sheffield has no official Chinatown although London Road, Highfield is the centre of the Sheffield Chinese community. There are many Chinese restaurants, supermarkets and community stores; the home of the Sheffield Chinese Community Centre is also there. The Sheffield Chinese community is pressing for the street to be formally labelled Sheffield's Chinatown. The Chinese community in Sheffield is also spreading toward the city centre, with a notable number of Chinese people, greatly influenced by the city's university that has the largest number of Chinese students in the country. 

Limehouse (17 & 30 Jan 2010)

Limehouse is a place in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. In the 1880s, immigrant Chinese began to settle in Limehouse, in particular, Pennyfields and Limehouse Causeway. The Chinese had restaurants, grocery stores and laundry houses where lime was used specifically to bleach clothes. By 1890, there were two small Chinese communities there; Chinese people from Shanghai settled around Pennyfields, Amoy Place and Ming Street (in Poplar) and those from Canton and South China lived in the Limehouse area. There were no Chinese women in the early days, and wives were British. During 1939-1950, the Chinese community in East London was first badly affected by the Blitz and then the post-war slump in maritime trade. The East London Cemetery contains a large Chinese burial area. 

Soho London (7 & 21 Feb 2010)

The name Chinatown has been used at different times to describe different places in London. The present Chinatown is in the Soho area of the City of Westminster, occupying the area in and around Gerrard Street. It contains a number of Chinese restaurants, bakeries, supermarkets, souvenir shops, traditional Chinese medicine shops and other Chinese-run businesses.

For more footprints, please visit the website.


evolutionhistoryofBritishChineseWorkforce In October 2009, Ming-Ai (London) Institute was awarded a grant from the Government’s new Transformation Fund for informal adult learning, to run “The Evolution and History of British Chinese Workforce” project.

Chungwen Li, the Dean of Ming-Ai, said: “This is the second oral history project that Ming-Ai is running this year. We are very happy to be able to provide a new learning method -- to acquire new skills and contributing to the community at the same time.

Claire Robinson, Transformation Fund Project Manager on behalf of the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE), said: “NIACE is very happy to be supporting the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills in the management of the Transformation Fund to fulfil the recommendations of the Government’s Learning Revolution for informal adult learning. The hundreds of bids we have received have displayed high standards of quality, highlighting the vast breadth of projects that are out there with an adult learning focus. The innovative nature of the winning projects is sure to transform the way adults learn, improving well-being and building confidence along the way. The projects have the potential to not only help individuals, but to benefit communities as well."

- March 2010

The recruitment of the voluntary production team for the project started in October 2009; everyone had specific roles and has shared their reflective thoughts of this project. The most exciting parts of the project are to create history while recording the history, and to present it artistically. The Project Award Ceremony and Exhibition
 was launched on 20 March 2010 at St Martin’s Hall, St Martin-in-the-Fields Church.

You can find the project interviews in the British Chinese Heritage Centre's website, or you can visit this website for full project information.

workforce award   LR TF banner white on red2


Besides the project production team and the project interviewees, there are also many unknown heroes behind the project, these contributors helped us in different ways and we are not able to deliver the project without their help.
Dianne Ayres, Gregor Benton, Michael Bolger, Karen Broutsos, Cheng Chan, Sherry Kuei-Chan, Alan Chau, C K Cheung, Stephen Craig, Maria Ejsmont-Rybicka, Polly Green, Joyce Lee-Ho, Nicola Pottage, Alan Lam, Kam Sang Law, Miranda Li, Wing Hong Li, Lisa Mok, Alan Seatwo, Chloe R Philips, James Thomson, Rachel Yang, and Alan Worsfold.

Action for Children, Glasgow; Bute Town History & Art Centre, Cardiff; Chinese Association of Tower Hamlets; Chun Yee Society, London; Discovery Museum, Tyne & Wear Archives & Museum; East London Cemetery; Hondo Trading Co. Ltd., Liverpool; Liverpool Chinese Pagoda Community Centre; Liverpool Community Information; London Metropolitan Archives; The Mitchell Library, Glasgow; National Museums Liverpool; Ricefield Chinese Arts and Culture Centre; San Jai Chinese Project, Glasgow; Scotland China Association; St Martin-in-the-Fields Church, London; Wah Sing Chinese Community Centre; Wai Yin Chinese Women Society, Manchester; and Wing Hong Elderly Centre, Glasgow.

(in alphabetical order)