Timeline 1900 – 2017

The mixed race population in port cities

Britain’s decennial censuses did not start to collect information on the ethnic group of the population until 1991 (and on the ‘mixed’ group until 2001). Consequently, we do not have details of the size and location of the ‘mixed race’ population at this time. However, the evidence available indicates that it was strongly concentrated in the port cities, notably, Liverpool, Cardiff, and London, through the presence of foreign seamen in these ports and their relationships local white British women. In her notorious 1930 report, Muriel Fletcher estimated that there were around 450 unions of Black men and White women in Liverpool with approximately 1,350 ‘mixed race’ children in these families.  While she did not give figures for London, she estimated that ‘half-caste’ children numbered around 370 in Cardiff (mainly Bute Town), 100 in Glasgow, 30 in Edinburgh, 20 in Old Trafford (Manchester), and also identified interracial communities in Salford, North and South Shields, and Hull. Government sources in 1930 estimated 500 ‘half-caste’ children in Cardiff.

Specific facilities and institutions were developed to cater for the seamen and their families. In 1919, for example, there were reported to be Arab, Maltese, West African, Portuguese, Russian, Finnish, Egyptian and Japanese boarding houses in Cardiff. In London, the Chung Hwa Club was founded in 1928 for the benefit of Anglo-Chinese children in Limehouse, with voluntary workers providing extra-school activities and evening courses to teach the children in English about Chinese life and the Coloured Men’s Institute was founded in….. In Liverpool the West Indian and African Missions provided many community facilities and welfare support for the Black and mixed race communities.