According to the South China Morning Post there are at least 8,000 Chinese students in Sheffield, as well as other sizeable groups from Hong Kong. The University of Sheffield is said to earn £85m from them, and is one of nine UK universities that rely on Chinese income for a fifth of their revenue.
It hasn’t always been this way. When did the Chinese come to Sheffield?
It seems that Chinese people have been settling in Britain for over 200 years, coming via trading routes such as between Liverpool and Shanghai. Outside of London, the largest Chinese communities are in Manchester, Birmingham, and Liverpool.
With a rise in demand for Chinese cuisine from the late 1950s, and the collapse of the agriculture sector in rural Hong Kong, many more Chinese came to the UK.
The earliest reference to Chinese settlers in Sheffield can be found in the burial register for St Paul’s churchyard (now the Peace Gardens) for 1855, when A. Chow, son of Too Ki (a magician), was buried.
The next reference isn’t until 1910 – a laundry proprietor named Yun Wong with a business on Abbeydale Road is listed in a trade directory for that year. However, it wasn’t until the 1960s that many more Chinese came to settle in the city.
The 2001 census recorded 2,200 Chinese people in Sheffield, with an additional 1,000 students of Chinese origin. By 2011, this figure had increased to 7,400. The highest concentrations of Chinese are found in Highfield, Sharrow, Broomhill, and Broomhall. They have come from mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, as well as other parts of Britain.
Now we have New Era Square, dubbed Sheffield’s Chinatown, conceived by UK-Chinese Sheffield businessman Jerry Cheung, and designed by architects Hadfield Cawkwell Davidson.