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People from around the North West will be flocking to Liverpool’s Chinatown this weekend as the Chinese New Year celebrations take place, and to hear and see the story of Jingwei and the Ocean.
Lighting up the Chinese Arch, the Black E and The Arch building (formerly the Scandinavian Hotel) for an hour each evening, this beautiful lumiere creation is based on the story of an Emperors daughter who, after perishing at sea, transformed into a bird and tried to fill the ocean with twigs and stones to stop anyone else from meeting the same fate.
The story has been adapted to showcase how Chinatown in Liverpool, and those around the world, have developed from seeds sown and the pebbles laid by the earliest Chinese settlers.
Everyone knows that Liverpool’s Chinatown is the oldest settlement in Europe, and our combined cultural history can be traced back as far as the early 1800’s thanks to the city’s shipping industry.
We all know Liverpool’s Chinatown was the first to be established in Europe but did you know it actually began life on the dockland area of the city? The small uprising of shops and laundries moved to its current home near the Anglican cathedral following extensive bombing during world war 2.
The Yuet Ben Chinese restaurant on the corner of Upper Duke Street and Berry Street (known locally as the Yuueeee) has been in business for almost 50 years. Famous diners at this stalwart of Chinese cuisine include Sir Cliff Richard, Henry ‘The Fonz’ Winker and LFC legends Alan Hansen and Kenny Dalgliesh
The stunning Chinese Arch (known as a Paifang) was erected in 2000 after being built in Liverpool’s twin city, Shanghai and is regarded as a mark of redevelopment of the area. This famous local landmark is said to be the second tallest arch outside mainland China.
More than 280 local children attend language classes at the Wah Sing Chinese Community Centre, Duke Street, every week! Dedicated to providing educational, social and cultural activities for the Chinese community, the Wah Sing Centre teaches languages and traditional singing and dancing to 5 to 16 year olds as well as running classes for non-Chinese students who want to learn mandarin.
You will no doubt have noticed that all the street signs around Chinatown are written in both English and Chinese, but have you ever wondered how to pronounce them? Here’s a couple of sayings to get you started in Mandarin, give them a try this weekend!
– How are you?/Nihao Ma/Nee-How-Mah
– Thank You/Xie Xie Ni/Shay Shay Nee
– Goodbye/Zai Jian/Zi Chen
Along side the Chinese Arch, the Black E will also be lit up this weekend as the ‘Jingwei and the Ocean’ story comes to life. The Black E, is regarded as a real cornerstone of Liverpool’s diverse culture, with children and teenagers from numerous different background and ethnicities, getting together for drama, music and artistic youth club type sessions since it opened its doors back in 1968. Still a contemporary community centre, the Black E offers a wide range of workshops, exhibitions and performances. Click here to find out more.
Liverpool’s Chinatown is associated with a number of famous faces. From young musician, Elvis Costello, who made his first public appearance at the Black E (and was paid 50p for his trouble), to actor David Yip appeared in Indiana Jones and James Bond (A View to a Kill) as well as a number of television dramas. David’s brother, Stephen Yip is also a local famous face, and holder of the Freedom of the City following his tireless work with his Liverpool-based charity, KIND.
Did you know that Liverpool was twinned with Shanghai in 1999 in an attempt to build on the historic shipping trade links forged over a century earlier. You can learn more about this fascinating history at the Museum of Liverpool, by clicking here.
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