Sunday, 8 January 2012

In Conversation with Mr C.K.Cheung Headmaster Wah Sing Chinese School. L1 Oral History Chinatown 2005 Moira Kenny

Can you explain to our readers the History of the Wah Sing Chinese community Centre?

Well it goes back so far as 1965 and in those days we have not got any address to be established as a Chinese community Centre. In those days we got a lot of Chinese Seamen come through the Liverpool docks and in those days we have not got any entertainment for them to spend their spare time and what they do is they spend a lot of time in Chinatown gambling a lot. So we had an idea, why don’t we establish one community purely for all of the Chinese to spend one day at a time, for example play table tennis and snooker, there was no gambling anyway.

Later on somebody mentioned about the younger generation and somebody else said “why don’t we set up a Chinese class for the younger ones” So the school was started with eight pupils and I asked all the members to donate their children in the class.

We thought about having a special anniversary celebration for our 40th anniversary but we don’t like to exaggerate, we take time planning, what we want the most is; we would like to bring up our generation peacefully and let them know the Chinese culture and let them know later on they will be a good citizen.

They did have a Chinese community in the 60’s and 70’s in the North West but the Chinese community was more concentrated in Liverpool. Unfortunately in the 1970’s Liverpool City council ignored the Chinese community so a lot of Chinese moved to Manchester and started up there. More or less they emigrated to Manchester because they had no room to expand. The history of the Chinatown! They have only got half a street in Nelson Street.

I have never known any city in the world that a Chinese Chinatown is so small we are so ashamed to admit that we are a Chinatown. We are the oldest Chinese community in Europe and yet there was no room to expand Chinatown and that is why the drift to Manchester occurred and in those days Manchester City council they gave us freedom for us to use their wasteland and empty warehouses, so we expanded. In Liverpool they build a corporation estate so Chinatown it was strangled at that time.

Children come from Manchester, Glasgow, Leeds and  Hull to Liverpool every weekend to the Wah Sing Chinese School. This is a very special place but unfortunately the glory days have been passed.

We don’t want to look back we go forward and I am sure Chinatown will come back with glory.

We will celebrate on the fifty years celebration. To be honest the expenses will be a long sum so we will have to settle on how much we could spend before we could do it. I would rather spend the money to improve the condition of every class room rather than spend the money to celebrate. We are here and we won’t move. Everybody has a good idea but first of all you need money.

For example every Chinese New Year we have to spend thousands of pounds to celebrate New Year I would prefer for the children to have a good atmosphere to learn in.

Not, well we have found it, when it is hot it is very hot when it is cold it is freezing cold here so if we spend the money to improve the classroom and the school it is better than spending all of that money for two hours.

I think if you date back 50’s 60’s early 70’s if we had had a good plan to extend and make a proper Chinatown we would have a good Chinatown like in Europe. But in that time the local authority ignored that. Now is the time to think about it I hope the authority will listen about it. Don’t forget most Chinese are very reserved and they don’t want to unbalance anything they would rather spend their time working, cooking and looking after their children. Not involved in any law or against any law, that’s it. I think our next generation is different now; we rely on the younger generation to take over the baton.