A review of our May meeting by Mary Champion
On Tuesday 21st May, John Edwards gave us an interesting talk on Chinatown, with some good slides. He told us that there used to be a mystique about the area, and rumours of opium smoking, gambling dens and 'lurking dangers' - all fictitious, he said.
The Chinese came to Liverpool after Liverpool ships went to the Orient in 1834 and returned crewed by Chinese sailors. Gradually boarding-houses, shops and restaurants were opened by them in Cleveland Square, and Pitt Street was taken over by Chinese grocery shops. Mr Edwards commented that we never see Chinamen with pigtails now. He explained how at one time women with small feet - achieved by binding them - were greatly admired, but this foot-binding was forbidden in 1912. During World War II there were 30,000 Chinese people in Liverpool, but Chinatown was destroyed. The inhabitants moved to Bedford Street, Nelson Street and Great George Square. A Chinese village was planned after the war, but was shelved for lack of money.
We were also told about the advent of Chinese laundries. After World War II there were 100 of these in the city, but now there is only one: G. Leong in Penny Lane. There are also souvenir shops, restaurants, martial-arts shops, a supermarket in Berry Street and a fine new restaurant, the Tai Pan, over another supermarket in Great Howard Street. We saw slides of Chinese Arches around the world, and at last Liverpool has one in Nelson Street - very attractive it is, too.
We finished the evening with some slides of Chinese characters, and a demonstration of how words are built up. We were a bit slow, but soon began to get the hang of it! Altogether, this was a very good and instructive evening.