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Monday, 1 May 2017

The creation of London's Chinatown

London's West End is known as the lively heart of the city with numerous historical buildings and theatres. Soho, Chinatown, Bloomsbury and Fitzrovia are situated there. Many businesses decide to operate there because of the numerous entertainment facilities and restaurants.

Chinatown has its own important part in London's history, which originates back in time from the Far East. Many Chinese businesses have opened and flourished in Chinatown since the 1950s.

The first Chinese people to appear in East London were sailors, employees of the East India Company. Even though most of the sailors were living in China, some of them decided to move to Limehouse in 18th century. With them, other Chinese entrepreneurs moved and opened businesses to serve their needs. By 1914, several hundred Chinese were living in the area and around 30 businesses were created.

The period after the war was difficult for the Chinese people living in Limehouse. The British shipping industry and the area itself were destroyed. The government introduced new union rules, which made it practically impossible for British shipping companies to hire foreign people. Chinese people in London were n danger of losing their income and home.

Returning British soldiers from the Far East exposed great interest in the Chinese cuisine. That was a favourable opportunity for the Chinese people, who opened numerous Chinese restaurants on Gerrard Street. The location was chosen because of its reputation of being a place for non-traditional cuisines. The success of the Chinese restaurants attracted the attention of more entrepreneurs, who opened various businesses in the area. That was the birth of London's Chinatown.

The location of London's Chinatown has a marvellous history, dating back in the year of the Great Fire (1666) in which the London area was destroyed. In a century or so after the fire, the area had recovered and grown to be known as a lively place. French immigrants made the upstairs floor of the market hall into 'The Butcher Church'. The Turk's Head inn was established and quickly became a preferred place by intellectual and political personnel for discussion of recent hot topics. Gerrard Street became a well-known artistic place where many famous painters, metal workers and writers gathered.

Until the 1880s, the Newport Market area used to be perceived by the local population as an area of 'criminal slum'. However, the establishment of some new businesses changed its reputation. On 43 Gerrard Street club 43 opened, and in the basement on 39 Gerrard Street, Ronnie Scott opened his first jazz club. When the Chinese people started coming to the area, it had already been known for the good nightlife and the low commercial rents.

Chinatown had become the center of London's Chinese communities by the 1960s. Many Chinese people were relocating from Hong Kong to the West End of London. New Chinese services and businesses developed in the region. A Chinese travel agency and a Chinese supermarket opened. The success of the London's Chinatown was marked by the construction of the Chinese gates, the Pavillion and traditional permanent street furniture.


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