Birmingham is about as far away from the sea as you can get in Britain. This helps explain why Chinese settlement there is relatively recent compared to coastal cities like London, Liverpool and Cardiff. In those places Chinese seafarers on ships brought goods from Asia and populated the historic Chinatowns of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Birmingham's Chinese population is the result of a largely post-war migration. Prior to 1945 there were only a few dozen Chinese people in the city. Birmingham’s Chinese Quarter was officially recognized in the 1980s. The city is home to the headquarters of the Chinese supermarket chain W. Wing Yip Plc.

  • Date: 13-Dec-2009
  • Place:
    • Wing Yip (Flagship Store and Head Office), 375 Nechells Park Road, Nechells, Birmingham B7 5NT
    • “Old Chinatown” Birmingham B5, UK
    • Site of the former first Chinese restaurant in Birmingham, Tung Hing, 15 Snow Hill, B4 6
    • Birmingham Chinese Quarter, Hurst St. West Midlands, B5 & Ladywell Walk, West Midlands B5 4ST
    • Chinese Pagoda, Pershore Street B5 4
    • Former site of first Chinese laundry in Birmingham Sing Hing Lee, 5 Stoney Lane, Sparkbrook, B12, UK
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13 December 2009

We continued our journey to Birmingham and arrived there in the afternoon. When we reached the W. Wing Yip Plc. we were 100% starving after spending a whole morning outdoor with freezing temperature! We stuffed ourselves with food before carrying out the next mission. Again, we split the team into two, this time we had an equal number – 4 members each team. Interview team and City team. The City team was Haiping, Martin, Ryszard and Kahfei; they went to Chinatown to take photos while the rest of us remained indoors nice and warm and supplied with food and drinks! Today we were interviewing a father & son – Mr Sammy Yap and Mr Henry Yap. We were shown around before conducting the interview. There was little struggle with the audio equipment before Lucia could start her first job. Lucia told the Yaps that it was her birthday so Mr Sammy Yap generously gave her a birthday gift from the shop and every interview team members as well! (Guess what was it? A microwave rice cooker container, suitable for lazy bones!)

- by Chungwen Li

 

As part of this project, I took a very challenging role as "video camera girl" and used a video camera for the first time in my life. I had an opportunity to go back to Birmingham (the place at which I firstly arrived in the UK years ago). We visited Wing Yip's huge store and interviewed Mr Sammy Yap and his son, Henry. Through the camera's lens, I could see the store where many Chinese students and Chinese immigrates can ease their home sickness. I could also see both father and son being together and feel the happiness of a family.

While recording all those scenes and events, I became aware of the beauties and details of people's lives that I might not have perceived otherwise.

- by Aubrey Ko