A time of strength, power, success and rebirth? Liverpool looks ahead to the Year of the Dragon
Plus: trouble at Blue Coat School and the hunt for Merseyside’s Michelangelo
Dear readers — happy Lunar New Year! It’s the Year of the Dragon, which meant big celebrations in Liverpool over the weekend and Chinese lanterns adorning the city. Here at The Post, we were born in 2021, the year of the ox. Travel Guide China tells us 2024 is looking fruitful for us oxes, with the likelihood of “earn[ing] a higher wage and [larger] bonus than last year,” which presumably means more of you lot hitting the subscribe button. Handy.
Over the weekend, readers were treated to an excellent piece by Abi as she went out — in the words of Tom Waits — looking for the heart of Saturday night in Liverpool’s pubs and clubs. Here’s a taster:
There are parts of Liverpool that still ride on the coattails of venues like Cream and The Cavern Club, Karl says, but there’s a real “counterculture” forming in places like 24 Kitchen Street. Counterculture? I ask, fully aware I’ve just been listening to the Sugababes inside. “What I mean is, Liverpool’s a big fucking dance city, but from that there’s small splinter-like things that break away from that. It’s punk.”
We got some lovely comments with your nightlife highlights throughout the ages, but as one reader so aptly put it: “The one thing I learned from my youth is that, wherever you are, the best stuff is happening elsewhere…according to your mates, anyway.”
Job alert: If you’re a very talented editor, you might like to apply to become Deputy Editor at our company, Mill Media Co, which publishes The Post and our sister newsletters. We need a fantastic copy editor and someone with experience of working on big stories and overseeing a fast-paced editorial team. Applications close in a few weeks, and we’d be grateful if you could share the link with anyone you know who might be interested.
This week we have three great editions lined up for you, including an investigation into a pension fund connected to the Heap’s Rice Mill development that Lisa has been working on for three months. We’ll be bringing you that juicy members-only story on Thursday, so make sure you’re a paying subscriber to get that delivered to your inbox.
We’ve already welcomed 42 new members this month, which means we are ahead of schedule to hit our February target of 75 newbies. If you’re not a member yet, please do join up now to get us closer to that target and to support the kind of storytelling that we do here at The Post. As Matt O’Donoghue argued in his note yesterday, “this city and this region needs a lot more scrutiny”.
Big story: A Lunar New Year to remember?
Top line: Hundreds descended on the oldest Chinatown in Europe over the weekend to celebrate Lunar New Year. This year, in a first for the city, free events were also taking place elsewhere in the city centre as Liverpool played host to a spectacular to celebrate the arrival of the Year of the Dragon.
Inside track: Usually Lunar New Year tends to focus on the area around the city’s Chinese Arch (the largest outside China), but the excitement was expanded this year with Culture Liverpool organising a catalogue of events all weekend across the city, bringing thousands of visitors here to enjoy the festivities.
Highlights included a 25-metre colourful fire-breathing dragon snaking through Liverpool’s dock system, fire shows, street dancing and martial arts.
The Bombed Out Church also played host to events from Friday through to Sunday, including a showing of the traditional Chinese story The Boy and the Pearl, projected onto St Luke’s, while wooden carved dragons made by local children added to the festive atmosphere.
Saturday saw a lion parade take over the city centre, which had been adorned with thousands of Chinese lanterns.
Great George Square, the heart of Lunar New Year celebrations, also hosted fire shows by Bring the Fire in the lead up to the big event yesterday, which saw huge crowds descend on Chinatown with roads in the area blocked off to traffic.
The history: Liverpool’s Chinatown is the oldest in Europe, dating to the 1860s, but the first Chinese migrants to the city predate even that generation.
Back in the 1860s many Chinese seamen — employed by the Blue Funnel Shipping Line — arrived in Liverpool.
Going even further back, some Chinese seamen began migrating to the city during the First Opium War, between 1839 and 1842.
There are now thought to be roughly 10,000 Chinese people living in Liverpool and the surrounding area.
Bottom Line: Judging by the crowds, the event was a huge success. Now, if only we could give Chinatown the makeover it deserves, eh? That aside, all that remains to be said is Kung Hei Fat Choi from us at The Post — here’s to a prosperous and wonderful New Year!
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Home of the week
This converted school house is giving us serious front door envy this week. Located in the heart of Hale Village, the three bedroom property is on the market for £450,000, and boasts original wooden beams and floors . Take a look here.
❤️ The Pen Factory is hosting another art and jazz night this Valentine's Day. All materials are provided — find out more here.
🍫 Or celebrate the date in a belated fashion with this chocolate tasting experience at the Chocolate Cellar in New Ferry on Saturday. Tickets are £35 per person for the Dabble workshop, which guides you through the process of making chocolate – from bean to bar.
📖 Cass Art is hosting a bookbinding workshop on Saturday, teaching the art of stitch pamphlets, stab-stitching and coptic stitch books. It’s a three-hour session that starts at 12pm — tickets available here.
🎤 Smoove & Turrell take to Future Yard’s stage this Saturday to celebrate nearly two decades of blending Northern Soul and EDM. Doors open at 7pm — buy a ticket here.
Your Post briefing
A fascinating update to our reporting on the highly prestigious Blue Coat School in Wavertree. Headteacher Scilla Yates (who recently led the school to once again being named the best in the north west by the Sunday Times) is stepping back from her role, days after the Teaching Regulation Agency launched an investigation into her conduct. The school has said there is no connection between the decision and the investigation and that Yates will remain head, but with less involvement in the school’s day-to-day running. The Post has been made aware that much of our reporting in the school was included in the complaint filed to the TRA by former teacher John Lamb. Our reporting focused on the conduct of former deputy head Nick Barends, who we revealed was arrested last year on suspicion of rape and sexual activity in the presence of a child over historic allegations. Lamb has now raised questions over Yates’ failure to take action against Barends more quickly. In a statement reported by the Echo, the school said they welcomed the investigation.
It was no dice for Liverpool at the recent Michelin Guide Awards ceremony in Manchester, with the city’s seemingly eternal wait for a star rolling on. One eatery perhaps not likely to break the duck would be the city centre’s Chicken Bazooka, who the fine folk over at Reddit have been discussing this week. Bazooka is something of an institution on Ranelagh Place (described in what reads like a paid advertorial in the Echo last year as a chicken shop that would “would survive a nuclear war”) but was hit with an unfortunate zero star hygiene rating last August. “My boyfriend ate there after a night out around 7 years ago and found a spider in his burger,” is just one of the appetising Reddit anecdotes. Bon appetit!
Liverpool is one of several beneficiaries of a UK tourism boom, with inbound visitors on the rise last year. According to Cavern City Tours’ Victoria McDermott in the Sunday Times, the long-Eurovision effect was luring overseas tourists who might otherwise head somewhere less, well…cold. “The biggest emerging market for us is definitely the Asian market,” said McDermott, adding to the ever-lucrative Beatlemaniac US market.
The hunt is on for the Merseyside Michelangelo, with the launch of the Liverpool Sculpture Prize. The winning work will be displayed at Liverpool Parish Church for 12 months (there’s also a prize fee of £2500, which isn’t to be sniffed at). The call for entries is open until 8th April, with the winner revealed in June. Here are the details.
Not exactly a recommended read, but this previously unpublished photo of Chinese seamen in a Liverpool hostel is a real gem. Taken by Bert Hardy back in 1942, the image depicts four men around a table, smoking cigarettes. Back in the 1940s, thousands of Chinese seamen came to Liverpool for work during the war — the men were paid less than half the wage of their British-born colleagues. Read more here.
A great bit of musical history in The Guardian. “Not many people in America (nor many in England either) know that Children of the Ghetto was written as part of a trilogy in and about Liverpool 8, on Stanhope Street… even fewer know that it was composed by the same band – the Real Thing – that gave the world You To Me Are Everything.”