Eastern Voices in the West Country

Eastern Voices in the West Country

The project

The Eastern Voices in the West Country oral history project was initiated and developed by MEAA. Its aim was to promote cultural understanding amongst local communities and unveil the previously unexplored history of Chinese immigrants to Bath.

According to the 2011 census summary, Chinese residents make up the biggest minority group in the Bath & North East Somerset (B&NES) area; however there is little trace of their history in Bath.

During the project we interviewed 11 Chinese immigrants who came from different parts of Asia to Bath who shared their emotional journeys from being strangers to becoming members of the community.

The project was completed in June 2014 and consists of the following elements:

  • researched archival material
  • short film
  • photographs
  • exhibition

The Stories

Photos show Chinese laundry on Kingsmead Square 1972 (© Bath in Time)

After researching local archives back to the Georgian period, we discovered that earliest record of Chinese living in Bath was the Kingsmead Street Chinese laundry in 1916 although it is possible that there were Chinese, East or Southeast Asian people living in Bath much earlier. This is solid proof that Chinese people have been members of the community for at least a century.

The project was supported by Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Performance Reward Grant.

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