A plaque to honour the Chinese seamen who played an important part in Liverpool’s history has been unveiled on Nelson Street. The blue plaque will play tribute to the 15-20,000 Chinese seafarers who made Liverpool their home, around the time of the First World War, after working with The Blue Funnel Shipping Line, a British shipping line which traded with China. After the war, many were forced by the Government to return to China, unbeknownst to their families.
The Blue Funnel Line has been recognised for their aid in helping families affected by the repatriation. A ceremony took place on the 18th November to unveil the plaque, organised by oral historians John Campbell and Moira Kenny, which was attended by Chinese sailors and invited guests. The plaque aims to become a renowned cultural attraction for sailors and their families, as part of a larger-scale project to unearth the history of Liverpool’s Chinese community.
In the past, the Chinese community were treated unkindly, and british women who married a Chinese man would lose their nationality and become second rate citizens. Nowadays, Liverpool tries to welcome our expanding Chinese community. The city is famous for its wide range of diverse cultures. The city is particularly famous for its status amongst international students. Both the University of Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores University have always played a major part in attracting international students, and as one of the most renowned cities in the UK, international students are always excited for the chance to experience such a diverse and cultural city.
It was recently announced that Liverpool’s landmark Scandinavian Hotel is to be turned into student flats. The derelict hotel is located on Duke Street, and is thought to be targeted predominantly at the growing number of Chinese students coming to study in the city due to its appealing proximity to the entrance to China town. The new accommodation will house more than 240 students and include a variety of different studio apartments. However, some local residents believe there is already enough student accommodation and more accommodation for ‘temporary’ students is unnecessary.
Rebecca Mortby and Julie Truman are determined that international students in Liverpool will feel welcome in the city, with their innovative new business, Greenfinch Graduations. Greenfinch aims to challenge reports of international students being dissatisfied by their experience in the UK. “Liverpool has always had strong links with language courses and Erasmus programmes, and therefore with international students. Erasmus programs have been around for almost 50 years in the city, and Liverpool has always been seen as a fantastic city for international students.” says Mortby.”
Liverpool now aspires to make sure that the Chinese community feel welcome and respected within the city, and for the new plaque to serve as a reminder of the role that the Chinese seafarers played in Liverpool’s history.
Local Councillor Steve Munby said: “Liverpool prides itself on its maritime history and an important part of that history is the role of Chinese seamen. Many of them gave their lives while serving with the Merchant Navy and others, shamefully, were forcibly removed from their homes and families. The contribution Chinese seafarers have made to the city should never be overlooked and this plaque recognises their role and that of the Blue Funnel Line.”