Liverpool pips its arch rival with gateway to Chinatown

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The Independent Online

A Chinese arch said to be the largest in Europe was officially unveiled yesterday in Liverpool, home to the continent's oldest Chinatown.

A Chinese arch said to be the largest in Europe was officially unveiled yesterday in Liverpool, home to the continent's oldest Chinatown.

The city happily reported that the 44.5ft structure, which dominates the entrance to its Chinatown, was "a whole metre taller" than the equivalent in Manchester.

The date of its blessing - which took place to the deafening noise of firecrackers - was selected by feng shui master Peter Kwok to bring good luck to the £220,000 project, which was partly financed by European funding.

The ornate stone arch, covered in carvings, was constructed in Shanghai, a twin city to Liverpool, and shipped over in around 2,000 pieces for assembly. A team of Shanghai workers accompanied it and have lived in Liverpool during its construction.

The structure stands at the entrance to Nelson Street and was also built according to the practices of feng shui - the Chinese art of positioning to bring good luck and fortune.

In feng shui terms, Nelson Street is a "river" flowing downhill, which needs to be dammed or halted to prevent good luck and fortune flowing away from local businesses.

"The arch goes a long way to doing this but it is also hoped to locate something additional at the bottom of Nelson Street to further increase its luck and fortune," said Collette Gill, of the Ropes Partnership, which is redeveloping a large area of land including Chinatown.

Traditional red balloons were released and red firecrackers set off as part of the blessing of the arch, which stands before one of the city's best-known Chinese restaurants, Mo Bos. Mike Storey, the Liverpool City Council leader, predicted it would become one of the city's most widely recognised landmarks.

Some 20,000 ethnic Chinese people live on Merseyside. Their presence has been dated to Britain's victory in the mid-19th-century Opium Wars, which opened up large areas of the Chinese coastline to trade, creating demand for more ships and crews.

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