The very first recorded Chinese settlers arrived in Manchester in the early part of the 20th century – choosing Manchester as an alternative location to London and latterly Liverpool where other communities were already beginning to settle. Many arrived alone and were employed in what was seen as the traditional Chinese trade of laundry.
But it wasn’t until the 1940s that larger numbers of people arrived and then in 1948 the first Chinese restaurant opened, called the Ping Hong and was located on Mosley Street, Manchester. Over the following decades another 24 restaurants opened their doors to the public.
By the time the 1950’s came around, the growth of washing machines in the home and larger laundries forced more Chinese people to look at alternative employment and many moved into takeaways and restaurants.
Some of the famous restaurants in what was now developing into what we now know of as Chinatown, arrived in the 1970s and included Charlie Chans (1973), the Woo Sang (1976) and The Little Yang Sing (1978).
Today Chinatown is is easily found by the impressive Ming Dynasty Imperial Arch which was dedicated back in 1987 with many shops and restaurants sited around Nicholas Street, Faulkner Street and George Street.
It’s difficult to put an exact number on the size of the Chinese community in Greater Manchester. In the 1991 UK census the population was put at just over 21,000 – more recent estimates suggest a figure of around 30,000 plus, but a great part of this is made up by overseas Chinese students studying in Manchester, so are considered to a transient addition to the popluation.