Eastern Voices in the West Country
Alongside the interviews we developed and collected a series of visual materials, such as portraits of interviewees and the treasured items which accompanied them on their journeys. Each of their stories is unique, offering viewers a glimpse into each individual’s life. The stories also highlight the demographic changes of Chinese migrants over time.
Chinese restaurant chef - retired
Has lived in Bath since 1963
Tong came from Hong Kong New Territory, arriving in the UK in 1958 with the majority of his journey being made by sea. The entire journey took him over forty days. The boat stopped at many ports in South East Asia and Africa during his journey from Hong Kong to Marseille. His journey ended with a long bus journey to Liverpool, where Tong and his fellow Chinese travellers settled in accommodation arranged by Tsung Tsin Hakka Association (a world-wide Hakka organization).
Tong worked in Chinese restaurants, first as a kitchen-hand and then as a chef, until his retirement. He moved around the UK frequently with his family with his work, living in Liverpool, Leeds, Morecambe, Penzance and Slough, finally settling in Bath in 1963. Unfortunately due to many years of moving around, he has lost most of his precious personal belongings that hold his memories from home.
Fung Yiu LEE
Takeaway owner - retired
Has lived in Bath since 1978
Fung Yiu arrived in the UK in August 1966 from Hong Kong. She travelled with her three children from Hong Kong to join her husband in Peterborough, who had already been working in a Chinese restaurant for a year. She and her husband’s families are both quite wealthy in Hong Kong and were fortunate enough to not have to work. But it was a difficult time for her when she first came to the UK and had to earn a living. She found it quite stressful at times. In 1978 Fung Yiu moved to Bath with her family and started a successful takeaway business, first in Oldfield Park area and then on Upper Bristol Road.
Fung Yiu recalled that she brought three cotton duvets in her luggage from Hong Kong, as they were essential to cope with the cold weather. She treasures her old family photos and travels back to Hong Kong frequently to visit her family.
Yuk Ching CHAN
Has lived in Bath since 1981
Yuk Ching came to the UK with his mother in 1981 to join his father who had already been working in a Chinese restaurant. He was almost 18 years old and had been trained in a big restaurant in Hong Kong as a chef for three years. A few months later his family bought a takeaway restaurant in Bath and then moved there in the same year. Yuk Ching came from a large family of 10 children. His mother raised them by selling local snacks on the street such as sticky rice dumplings. One of the most important things his mother packed in the luggage were two Chinese steamers as they were essential for making a living. One of them is still used by Yuk Ching today.
Yuk Ching became a devoted Buddhist in 1997. He stopped working as a chef due to religious beliefs. In 2001 he became the very first Chinese bus driver in Bath.
Yuk Lun LIU
Takeaway owner - retired
Has lived in Bath since 1984
Yuk Lun came from the New Territories in Hong Kong. He moved to the UK just before he was 15 in 1966 to join his father in Grantham. He worked in Chinese restaurants as a waiter at the beginning. The wage in those days was only about £10 per week, but included accommodation and food. Yuk Lun had learnt English in primary school, but still found it difficult to speak when he first came to the UK. He loves travelling and photography. He obtained his UK driving licence in 1968 and travels around the UK and Europe for pleasure when time permits.
Yuk Lun married in 1977 and ran a takeaway restaurant in Bristol for five years before moving to Bath to setup a new takeaway restaurant in the Weston area, which he ran up until a couple of years ago. He treasures old family photos and takes pride in his first UK driving license.
Christina Mei Yong CHOW
Former Adult Community Learning Development Officer Bristol
Has lived in Bath since 1990
Christina came to the UK in 1984 to pursue further studies at the University of Essex. It was a difficult decision for her as her mother was quite ill at the time, because of her mother’s encouragement that she did eventually make the move.
Christina’s family originally came from Southern China and moved to what was formally known as British Malaya; her parents then made the decision to move to the more Chinese-associated Singapore. Her family has quite a tradition of migration. She moved to Bath with her husband in 1990 and opened her second-hand bookshop business in the early 1990s, shortly before the boom of Internet retail.
Christina treasures her old family photos, especially the ones of her mother. Her mother was a great inspiration to Christina, and encouraged her to come to the UK, she always said – “do not stop because of her”.
Wang Nan WANG
Professor of Physics, Electronic and Electrical Engineering
Has lived in Bath since 1994
Prof Wang came to the UK in 1984 to study for a PhD at Cambridge University. He returned to Taiwan to teach and undertook a research role at university. He came back to the UK to get married in 1990 and then returned to Taiwan again with his wife for nearly five years before moving back to the UK again. Prof Wang now leads an LED research and development department at university and travels to Asia frequently to develop relationships and further collaborations with manufacturers and universities.
Prof Wang enjoys cooking and watching the UK food programmes on television. He recalls in former years inviting his Chinese students to his house to celebrate Chinese New Year at the time when there were not many Chinese students around. To do the same thing now would be near impossible given the huge surge in numbers of students coming from China to study in the UK.
Shane XU and Jake XU
Creative design business owners
Have lived in Bath since 1999
Shane and Jake are twin brothers who came from Beijing, China. They came to Bath to study in 1999 when they were 17 and have lived here ever since. It was at an education fair in Beijing that they were first attracted by the beautiful scenery of Bath. They worked hard to raise money for their studies, as they only had enough funds to support their first term’s tuition fees. After completing their studies they worked in the media and publishing sector before setting up their own successful design business.
Shane and Jake always carry their blessed Buddha plaques given to them by relatives when they left China as protection. They still have their first flight tickets to the UK and a note from their mother written on the night before their departure.
Bed and Breakfast owner
Has lived in Bath since 2000
Ling moved to Bath in 2000. She was originally from Sai Kung, Hong Kong. Her attraction to Bath started in the 1990s, when she travelling to the UK few times a year for work and visiting a friend who lived in Bath on each visit. She soon found herself falling in love with the city. When she and her husband decided to move to the UK it was clearly a natural decision for her to choose Bath to settle down.
The jade pendent Ling is wearing is a continuation of a Chinese tradition, which she keeps as a reminder and something to follow. Her mother gave her and her siblings a jade piece each for protection when they were small. When she had her own family she bought each member a piece of jade. In Chinese culture, jade has the properties of protection and healing, and also means wealth and happiness. Ling also enjoys Pu’er tea (a type of Chinese Tea). These two traditions act as a constant reminder of her heritage.
Reader (Associate Professor) Coastal & Offshore Engineering
Has lived in Bath since 2007
Dr Zang is from Dalian in North East China. She first came to the UK in 1995 under a scholarship programme and undertook a research role at a company in Oxford. After spending time in the UK, Dr Zang went to Singapore where she worked for three years before returning back to the UK in 1999. This time, she returned to a research and teaching role at universities in Manchester and Oxford, as she missed working in research and dreamed of working with world leaders in her area of expertise. She eventually moved to Bath with her family in 2007 and has been living and working here ever since.
Dr Zang treasures her family photos and a musical keyboard she bought years ago in China which accompanied her to Singapore and the UK. The keyboard is now enjoyed by her daughter who uses it today.
Mei-Ling Chou FURSE
Mayoress of Bath 2012-2013
Lives in Bath since 2009
Mei-Ling moved to Bath in 2009 from Taiwan. She met her husband, Andrew Furse, in Taiwan, while he was working there, helping the Taiwanese in railway signal engineering. Andrew Furse is also a Liberal Democrat Councillor of Bath and has represented the Kingsmead Ward since 1994.
Mei-Ling’s most treasured item from Taiwan is a bilingual Bible. The Bible was given to Mei-ling by her nephew, which she recalls as being pivotal in helping her through difficult times in the past.