1900 - 1909
1910 - 1919
1920 - 1929
1930 - 1939
1940 - 1949
1950 - 1959
1960 - 1969
1970 - 1979
1980 - 1989
1990 - 1999
2000 - 2009
2010 - 2019
2020 - 2029

Our main exhibition

The Mixed Museum was founded in 2012 as a means to share more widely and permanently the findings of small British Academy-funded research project undertaken in 2007 by Drs Chamion Caballero and Peter Aspinall into official accounts and first-hand experiences of racial mixing in 20th century Britain. The project identified a range of material from national and local archives, including official documents, autobiographical recordings and photos and film materials, which furthered our understanding of how social perceptions of racial mixing and mixedness emerged during this period and the effect they had on the lives of mixed race people, couples and families themselves, as well as their place in shaping contemporary ideas and experiences.

The findings inspired and formed the foundation of the critically acclaimed BBC2 series Mixed Britannia (2011) and are further explored in the book Mixed Race Britain in The Twentieth Century (2018) published by Palgrave Macmillan.

1900 - 1909

In the first years of the 20th century, there was only limited population mixing and interracial union formation in Britain, mainly confined to small enclaves in the port towns of London (such as the East End’s Limehouse) and Cardiff. The media reporting of interracial couples focused on the famous and well-to-do such as John Milne and Tone Horikawa, Nina Alberta Tomalin-Potts and Yung Hsi Hsiao, and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Jessie Sarah Fleetwood Walmisley, relationships characterised by their novelty and exceptionality. The First World War changed this picture, as men from Britain’s colonies were recruited into the services and demobilised in large numbers at the end of the war. The opportunities to marry across the ‘colour line’ increased and the emergence of mixed communities in Britain’s port cities, notably Cardiff, began to attract attention. In conditions of post-war economic decline and worsening conditions for seamen, the decade ended with the 1919 ‘Race Riots’ in London, Liverpool and Cardiff.

1900: Presence of mixed race families in early 20th century Britain

A rising visibility.

1900: John Milne and Tone Horikawa

The inventor of the seismograph resides in the Isle of Wight with his Japanese wife.

1904: The marriage of Vera Tomalyn-Potts and Yung-Hsi Hsiao

This 'Anglo-Chinese' wedding attracted great press attention

1907: Founding of the Eugenics Society

Discussions of selective breeding.

1910 - 1919

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1912: Death of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor

The acclaimed composer of white British and Sierra Leoneon heritage dies of acute pneumonia.

1913 - Election of John Archer

Britain's first Black mayor.

1913 - 'Fu Manchu' and the demonisation of Chinatown

Increasing vilification of Chinese communities in Britain

1914 - The First World War

The war saw mixed race couples face new visibility and hostility

1914 - British Nationality and Status of Aliens Act

'Alien' British women

1918 - Death of Walter Tull

Britain's first Army Infantry Officer of Black descent

1918 - Alfred, 'Bopa' and 'Daddy' Lawes

A mixed race family in the Rhondda Valley

1919 - The 'Race Riots'

Explosion of racial violence in nine of Britain's port cities

1920 - 1929

The twenty years 1920-40 can justly be described as the era of moral condemnation for interracial couples and their children. It began with Marriage Registrars’ ‘Warning Statement’ about interracial unions and the Special Restrictions (Coloured Alien Seamen) Order and saw the publication in the 20s of the first reports on ‘mixed race’ children by British anthropologists (an approach called ‘anthropometry’ based on detailed physical measurements). Although much of this work was published in the Eugenics Society’s journal, it took a neutral stand on the biological consequences of what was called ‘race crossing’. However, the infamous ‘Fletcher Report’ of 1930 described Liverpool’s mixed couples and their offspring in racist and inflammatory language, with references to ‘brothels’, ‘ disorderliness’ , ‘illegitimacy’, ‘infectious diseases’, and ‘prostitution’, those in interracial unions being described as ‘disharmonious’, ‘immoral’, and ‘promiscuous’. In the 1930s Parliament, too, began to problematize the ‘mixed race’ population in Britain’s port cities in terms of poverty and a threat to economic and social stability. As the Eugenicists Society reached the peak of its popularity in the 1930s with an agenda that actively cautioned against interracial unions, the consequences of eugenicist policies in Nazi Germany were becoming apparent. These events drew devastating critiques of eugenicist thinking and theories of racial superiority from the British geneticists, Julian Huxley and Alfred Haddon, and Cedric Dover’s ‘Half-caste’ provided an eloquent riposte to those who denigrated the offspring of mixed unions.

1920 - Marie Stopes and the sterilisation of 'half-castes'

Eugenicist opposition to racial mixing

1922 - Marriage of Dixie Brown and Lily Sellick

A Bristolian family

1924 - Marriage Registrars' 'Warning Statement'

State warnings against mixed marriages

1925 - Special Restrictions (Coloured Seamen) Order

Discriminatory legislation

1926 - The Founding of The Coloured Men's Institute

Supporting mixed race families in East London

1927 - Rachel Fleming's anthropometric study

The measuring of mixed race children

1928 - 'Lady Dark Brown and Friend'

Caricaturing interracial mixing in 'the smart set'.

1929 - Removal of interracial kiss from 'Piccadilly'

A celebrated screen depiction of interracial desire.

1929 - Cardiff Watch Committee Report: mixed race children as problem

The beginning of investigations by officialdom in the post WW1-decades

1930 - 1939

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Sed consequat ligula eget tempor vehicula. Nunc ex arcu, vestibulum in maximus eu, facilisis eget magna. Sed sapien velit, iaculis et dignissim eu, scelerisque fermentum erat. Vivamus egestas consequat consectetur. Integer hendrerit ullamcorper varius. Ut ut urna euismod, ornare elit a, consequat sapien. Curabitur mollis turpis nisl, id sodales elit fermentum vel. Nam consequat a nibh vel tempor.

1930 - The mixed race population in port cities

A small but visible population

1930 - The Fletcher Report

The vilification of mixed race families in Liverpool.

1930 - Crown Street, aka 'Draughtboard Alley'

Outsider and insider views of interracial mixing in East London

1930 - Paul Robeson and Peggy Ashcroft

An affair on and off the stage

1930 - Helen Bartholomew and the Sultan of Johore

A royal marriage

1931 - 'Half-Caste Woman' by Noël Coward

Musical stereotyping of 'Eurasian' women

1931 - 'Black Man and White Ladyship'

Nancy Cunard's pamphlet on her relationship with Henry Crowder

1931 - The wedding of Ras Prince Monolulu and Nellie Adkins

Crowds celebrate the wedding of the popular Caribbean tipster

1934 - Aims and Objectives of the Eugenics Society

The Society's official position on 'race mixing'

1935 - Captain F.A. Richardson's Ports Report

Damning commentary on mixed race families in port communities

1936 - JC Trevor investigates 'race crossing' for the Eugenics Society

A surprisingly neutral take in the Eugenics Review

1937 - Publication of Cedric Dover's Half-Caste

A challenge to eugenicist stereotypes

The Second World War (1939-1945)

WW2's influence on patterns and experiences of racial mixing

1940 - 1949

This period was transformative for the position of mixed race families in British society. While the Second World War (1939-45) again increased the numbers of people in the country from Britain’s colonies, the inflow of large numbers of black American GIs in the country, in preparation for the invasion of Europe, had a greater impact as many forged relationships with British women. The ‘babies they left behind’ preoccupied the British government, voluntary organisations, well-meaning individuals like Pastor Daniels Ekarte, and ‘official’ children’s homes for much of the later 1940s and 50s. The consequences of the war were also felt by Chinese seamen in Liverpool, many of whom (including some who had partners and children in the city) were repatriated to East Asian when the Pacific war with Japan was concluded. The Second World war, too, had exposed the full horrors of Nazi racist policies on mainland Europe, a programme of systematic state-sponsored incarceration and murder of Jews, Gypsies, and many who were mixed race. The UNESCO-sponsored statements on ‘race’ in 1950 and 1951 were an attempt to make known the scientific facts about race and to combat racial prejudice, including the spurious arguments about the biological consequences of race crossing. The eugenics movement began to lose its influence as the science underpinning it was revealed to be bogus and interest amongst geneticists turned away from the grand search for patterns of inherited human behaviour to the study of biological molecules and the gene. British anthropologists working on race abandoned physical anthropometry and moved, instead, to social aspects of race relations and processes of ‘racialisation’. The final, transformative event of these two decades was the start of mass migration to Britain from the Indian Subcontinent, the Caribbean, and sub-Saharan Africa, with the arrival in London of ‘Empire Windrush’ in 1948 with around 500 passengers from Jamaica. During the two decades 1951-71 the ethnic composition and geographical spread of new communities in Britain was to be changed beyond recognition, the New Commonwealth-born population increasing from 0.2 million to 1.2 million. Cities and towns like Birmingham, Leicester, Bradford, and Wolverhampton, headed the ranking and saw, for the first time, growing numbers of mixed race families.

1948 'The Babies They Left Behind Them'

1943 - 'Everyday life in Butetown, Cardiff, Wales'

A glimpse into Cardiff's Muslim mixed families

1944 - Black GIs in Britain

New relationships and concerns

1946 - Deportation of Chinese seamen in Liverpool

Destruction of Liverpudlian Anglo-Chinese families

1950 - 1959

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Sed consequat ligula eget tempor vehicula. Nunc ex arcu, vestibulum in maximus eu, facilisis eget magna. Sed sapien velit, iaculis et dignissim eu, scelerisque fermentum erat. Vivamus egestas consequat consectetur. Integer hendrerit ullamcorper varius. Ut ut urna euismod, ornare elit a, consequat sapien. Curabitur mollis turpis nisl, id sodales elit fermentum vel. Nam consequat a nibh vel tempor.

1960 - 1969

Following the large scale immigration of the 50s and 60s, the subsequent decades witnessed a marked growth in the mixed race population in cities such as Birmingham and Manchester. The Home Office was active in its surveillance of these new communities, recording the racial composition of families, whether their births were outside marriage, and their housing circumstances. Besides such initiatives and those of some city medical officers of health, any attempts to count either the number of interracial partnerships or the growing mixed race population did not come till the end of the period when a few new government social surveys started collecting data on racial/ethnic group. The 1970s was a decade of overt racism and political violence against black people. The first race relations legislation had come in 1965 and was strengthened by the 1976 Act. By the start of the 70s Enoch Powell’s Rivers of Blood speech was fresh in people’s minds and an emergent National Front cast a shadow over civil society. Popular culture (films and plays) took themes from Britain’s new demographic communities and the increasing frequency of what were still regarded as ‘transgressive’ interracial relationships in productions such as Taste of Honey and Tamed and Shabby Tiger.

1970 - 1979

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Sed consequat ligula eget tempor vehicula. Nunc ex arcu, vestibulum in maximus eu, facilisis eget magna. Sed sapien velit, iaculis et dignissim eu, scelerisque fermentum erat. Vivamus egestas consequat consectetur. Integer hendrerit ullamcorper varius. Ut ut urna euismod, ornare elit a, consequat sapien. Curabitur mollis turpis nisl, id sodales elit fermentum vel. Nam consequat a nibh vel tempor.

1980 - 1989

The last two decades of the century saw the transformation of mixing and mixedness from a niche position in British society to the mainstream. This was apparent in the country’s ethnic/racial composition, public attitudes to interracial marriage, and the attitudes of officialdom. Between 1981 and 2002/3 the number of interracial relationships increased dramatically, for example, from 21.7% to 35.9% for intermarried Caribbean men and 10.4% to 22.5% for women. There was a commensurate increased in the mixed race population, the 230,000 recorded in the 1985 Labour Force Survey almost trebling in the next fifteen or so years. The 1990s saw a marked shift in attitudes to intermarriage, social attitude surveys recording a marked drop in the level of opposition especially amongst the younger age cohorts in the population. The interracial partnering of prominent public figures, TV personalities, and a member of the Royal Family no doubt added to this increasing acceptability in British society. By the mid-1990s officialdom had recognised the need to included categorisation for the ‘mixed’ group in the upcoming census. ‘Mixed race’ children had also become the focus of scholarly research on racial/ethnic identity, racial prejudice, and their disproportionate presence in the ‘looked after children’ statistics. Drama series for TV and films for the cinema increasingly portrayed the lives of young mixed race Britons.

1990 - 1999

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Sed consequat ligula eget tempor vehicula. Nunc ex arcu, vestibulum in maximus eu, facilisis eget magna. Sed sapien velit, iaculis et dignissim eu, scelerisque fermentum erat. Vivamus egestas consequat consectetur. Integer hendrerit ullamcorper varius. Ut ut urna euismod, ornare elit a, consequat sapien. Curabitur mollis turpis nisl, id sodales elit fermentum vel. Nam consequat a nibh vel tempor.

2000 - 2009

In the first decade of the new century mixing and mixedness have come of age. The 2001 Census recorded 237,420 White and Black Caribbeans, 78,911 White and Black Africans, 189,015 White and Asians, and 155,688 in the ‘Other Mixed’ group in England and Wales, around 660,000 in total. Since then the ‘mixed’ population has been amongst the fastest growing of all minority ethnic groups, latest estimates (mid-2009) recording almost one million ‘mixed’ people in the country, a figure that is likely to be exceeded when the 2011 Census figures are released this November. Coming on the back of official recognition, around a dozen mixed race organisations have been set up, including Bradley Lincoln’s Manchester-based social enterprise ‘Multiple Heritage Project’ (now our host website Mix-d:), Sharron Hall-Corby’s ‘Intermix’, and many others in towns and cities throughout the country including Birmingham, Sheffield, Brighton, and Exeter. Over the last decade or so there has been a huge shift in coverage by the media, the focus now being on mixed race high achievers in the arts, literature, entertainment, sport, and politics (including the election of Barack Obama to the US Presidency and of figures such as Chucka Umunna to the UK Parliament). Interracial marriage, in itself, is no longer newsworthy as it was in previous decades but has become quotidian. A new cosmopolitanism has taken root in many of our large cities, including what Paul Gilroy has called a ‘convivial culture’, the boisterous everyday interaction of Britain’s different racial/cultural groups. By 2020, the ‘Mixed’ group is predicted to grow to 1.3 million people (a 93% increase over the two decades 2001-20), by which time it will constitute around 2% of the country’s total population, still substantially smaller than the ‘Black’ and ‘Asian’ groups but a major grouping, emblematic of Britain’s era of ‘superdiversity’.

2010 - 2019

2020 - 2029