From the beginning of Chinese settlement in the ports of London and Liverpool there were not Chinatowns but Eurasiatowns. Because few Chinese women were able to come to Britain, Chinese seamen set up home with local women. Many didn’t actually marry because that meant the woman could lose her British citizenship and would become an alien, with resulting restrictions on travel and benefits.
The children of such unions often faced discrimination when it came to finding jobs. Many followed the example of Yorkshire-born Harry Cheong who had an exemplary army record during the Second World War, including fighting in Burma for which he was mentioned in dispatches. But on leaving the army he had to change his surname to get a job interview and has since lived as Harry Dewar. Such name changes have meant much Chinese history in Britain is now difficult to trace.
Notable people who had Chinese fathers and English mothers include footballer Hong Y “Frank” Soo, who played for Stoke City 1933–1945 and Leslie Charteris who wrote The Saint books that were made into successful TV series.
Yvonne Foley explores the history and experiences of Eurasians on the website Half and Half
“informative and thoroughly enjoyable. I was especially delighted to hear the voice of my Primary School headteacher - Mr Dewar. His personal story was fascinating.” H. Alvarez
I am fascinated by this program. My mother was half Chinese and as her mother kept her English name and later married an English man we have had no contact or record of our grandfather. Please bring this series out on CD so that I can distribute them round the family and we can start our search to find out who we are. G. Keightley
Why was it that Chinese Children brought up in Nelson Street did not do as well academically as their cousins brought up in small rural towns. Did the have better teachers, or was there an isolation effect? Ilyan
Great, very interesting how things have eased for “mixed” families in the UK and many other countries and what it was like a generation or two ago. G.