Dragons beyond the gate: Chinatown in London

Friends, English learners at all levels, here is our next article which aims to improve your understanding of your surroundings! In your endeavours to broaden your knowledge,Training Center Raya London is by your side! Always remember that effort pays off!

Today, we’ll tell you all about Chinatown, a wonderful, vibrant, and unusual location.

Michael Alphonsus Shen Fu-tsung was the first Chinese to arrive in Britain in 1687. He acquired his European names when he pled to the Jesuit Order and travelled to London with his tutor, Belgian Jesuit Father Phillipe Couplet. During his time in Oxford, he contributed to the translation of Chinese literature in the Bodleian Library, the main research university centre.

Nowadays, the Chinese colony in the UK is home to almost 400,000 individuals, or 0.7% of the islands’ total population.

Chinatown is an ethnic minority in Westminster that shares a boundary with Soho and Theatreland in London. Chinatown is around Gerrard Street and there is a wide variety of Chinese-owned and operated enterprises, restaurants, and gift shops.

Chinatown was initially formed close to Limehouse in East End as it was near the docks and the gathering of sailors from different nationalities. The local police was frequently receiving signals about unlawful structures and hidden rooms which were used to smoke opium. The neighbourhood was heavily damaged by the German bombing during World War II, yet even this could not compel the older Chinese to leave. At the same time, young people were seeking business opportunities, Chinese food was becoming more and more popular, and immigrants from Hong Kong flooding London were looking for jobs. Maybe, the first Chinese restaurant opened for business on Lisle Street which was parallel to Gerard Street. Many more Chinese restaurants opened and at the moment their number is around 80.

In 2005 an investor proposed to develop the eastern side of Chinatown, however, the people who were already established there, feared of being relocated or evicted, so they decided to protest against the investor’s plans. As a demonstration of their disapproval, they even closed all businesses for one whole day.

In 2016, Prince Andrew, Duke of York, unveiled the brand-new gate on the Soho side, which gave the area a distinctive appearance. It is a traditional construction from the period of the Qing dynasty. The gate was made by Chinese craftsmen, then brought to the United Kingdom, and assembled there.

Chinatown offers a unique opportunity to experience Chinese culture and cuisine. It is also a superb location for shopping, dining, and entertainment. Have you ever been there?

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Author: Iveta Radeva

Image: chinatown.co.uk

Training Centre Raya London is a new and fastly developing English Language School specialized in teaching English as a second language. Founded in 2015 we are small enough to provide a personal service, but large enough to have very good facilities and resources for the students to learn English in UK.