This film is part of Free

East Sixteen

Stylishly realised portrait of Chinese priest Peter Kao, who offers a Christian welcome to sailors from his homeland.

Documentary 1959 10 mins


Where is the heart of China? Not Beijing or Hong Kong, but the Flying Angel, London E16 - at least so says young Chinese priest Peter Kao. This elegant, atmospheric short documentary, made to promote the work of the Missions to Seamen, follows Kao as he provides pastoral care to the community of Chinese seamen in London's docklands. Made with a keen eye for composition and detail, the film opens a fascinating window on a close-knit community flung far from its roots.

The Missions to Seamen was founded in 1856 by the Reverend John Ashley and has been known since 2000 as the Mission to Seafarers. Chinese seamen first came to London in the 17th century, aboard East India Company trading ships. By the 19th century, small Chinese communities could be found near the river around Shadwell, Limehouse and Poplar.