Welcome to the Mixed Museum

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.


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.
Photograph of two mixed race sisters, Eliza (standing) and Mabel (seated), taken in 1902.
Photograph of two mixed race sisters, Eliza (standing) and Mabel (seated), taken in 1902.

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

A rising visibility.

John Milne, British seismologist and geologist, and his wife, Tone c.1900 Image 10302524 - ©Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library (1/5)
John Milne, British seismologist and geologist, and his wife, Tone c.1900 Image 10302524 - ©Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library (1/5)

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

engenic document
engenic document

1907 - Founding of the Eugenics Society

Discussions of selective breeding.


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’.

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

Photo of a Chinese seaman on alien registration card
Photo of a Chinese seaman on alien registration card

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


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.
Coverage of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor's death in The Bystander, 11 September 1912. Above a picture of the composer, the headline reads an irreplaceable loss to British music.
Coverage of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor's death in The Bystander, 11 September 1912. Above a picture of the composer, the headline reads an irreplaceable loss to British music.

1912 - Death of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor

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

John Archer in his mayoral robes 1914
John Archer in his mayoral robes 1914

1913 - Election of John Archer

Britain's first Black mayor.

Book cover showing Fu Manchu holding a woman under his spell
Book cover showing Fu Manchu holding a woman under his spell

1913 - 'Fu Manchu' and the demonisation of Chinatown

Increasing vilification of Chinese communities in Britain

1914 - British Nationality and Status of Aliens Act

'Alien' British women

1914 - The First World War

The war saw mixed race couples face new visibility and hostility

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

A mixed race family in the Rhondda Valley

1918 - Death of Walter Tull

Britain's first Army Infantry Officer of Black descent

Western Mail newspaper clipping of a grainy black and white photo showing a multiracial crowd. The caption reads Racial Riots at Cardiff'.
Western Mail newspaper clipping of a grainy black and white photo showing a multiracial crowd. The caption reads Racial Riots at Cardiff'.

1919 - The 'Race Riots'

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


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.

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.

The original photo that appeared in the Daily Express’s ‘The Street of Hopeless Children’ article. Note how the white children, who had clearly been socialising with the others, had mostly been cropped out of the photo that appeared in the newspaper.
The original photo that appeared in the Daily Express’s ‘The Street of Hopeless Children’ article. Note how the white children, who had clearly been socialising with the others, had mostly been cropped out of the photo that appeared in the newspaper.

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 - The wedding of Ras Prince Monolulu and Nellie Adkins

Crowds celebrate the wedding of the popular Caribbean tipster

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

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

1939 - 1945 The Second World War

WW2's influence on patterns and experiences of racial mixing


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.

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

Woman jailed for going to GI
Woman jailed for going to GI

1947 - Margaret Goosey and Thomas Johnson

A British woman jailed for marrying a black American GI

1948 'The Babies They Left Behind Them'

The 'Brown Baby problem' of WW2

1948 - Amendment to the Nationality of British Women’s Act

Before, a woman who married an ‘alien’ lost her nationality.


1948 - “Windrush” and the era of mass in-migration

The beginnings of mass in-migration from New Commonwealth countries


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.

1950 - UNESCO Statement by Experts on Race Problems

"All men belong to the same species…"

negroes in britain
negroes in britain

1950 - Decline of the Eugenics Society in post-war years

By the early 50s eugenics had lost all credibility in the scientific community,

1955 - Pathé film footage of Jamaicans and ‘English girls’

Beautiful and revealing images record mixed race couples happily going about their ordinary lives

1957 - Sydney Collins and Coloured Minorities in Britain

Collins was one of very few black scholars working in British universities at this time.


1959 - Sapphire

British crime drama


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.

1960 - Home Office Surveillance of Mixed Families and their Children in Manchester

The 1960 memorandum asked about ‘intermixing, miscegenation and illegitimacy’

1961 - A Taste of Honey

British film adaptation of a play by Shelagh Delaney

1964 - Black Marries White

Ground-breaking 1964 television documentary

1968 - Tamed and Shabby Tiger

BBC documentary by Selwyn Roderick


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.

1972 - Founding of People in Harmony

The first community organisation in Britain to cater for the needs and interests of people in mixed racial/ethnic unions

1974 - First estimates of intermarriage in the UK

Among married Asians, 5% of men and 2% of women were married to a white person in 1974

1975 Half-caste by Thin Lizzy

Lynott was the son of an Irish mother and an Afro-Guyanese father


1980-2000 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.

1980 - Embarrassment

The song by ska/pop band Madness was released as a single on November 14, 1980 and reached number 4 in the UK singles chart.


1981 - Ambiguous Ethnicity: Interracial Families in London

A study published in 1981 by Dr Susan Benson

1983 - British Social Attitudes Survey

Hostility to inter-marriage falls rapidly amongst cohorts born after the 1930s

1984 - Dawn French and Lenny Henry

Married on 20 October 1984 in Covent Garden London

1985 - My Beautiful Laundrette

British film directed by Stephen Frears

1987 - Sammy and Rosie Get Laid

Directed by Stephen Frears, with a screenplay by Hanif Kureishi

1987 - Mixed Race Children: A Study of Identity

A pioneering book by Anne Wilson

1988 - Coffee Coloured Children

Short film by Ngozi Onwurah

1989 - Shalom, Salaam

BBC miniseries following two Leicester families


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 - The Buddha of Suburbia

Autobiographical novel by Hanif Kureshi.

1991 - Great Britain Census

Around 230,000 persons gave mixed origin descriptions

1991 - Young Soul Rebels

Black British coming of age drama

1993 - Black, White or Mixed Race?

Race and Racism in the Lives of Young People of Mixed Parentage

1994 - Deep: People of Mixed Race

A collection of photographic images and oral testimony

1996 - Secrets and Lies

British film directed by Mike Leigh

1997 - Oona Tamsyn King elected to Parliament

Served as the Member of Parliament for Bethnal Green and Bow

1997 - Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Fayed

Dodi Al-Fayed, became romantically involved with Diana, Princess of Wales

1999 - East is East

British comedy-drama film,

1999 - Intermix

Organisation for mixed-race individuals run by mixed race individuals


2000-2020 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.

2000 - White Teeth

Novel by the British author Zadie Smith

2001 UK Census

661,034 persons identified as ‘Mixed’, 1.3% of the total population.

2005 - Half-caste

Poem by John Agard

2006 - Multiple Heritage Project

It was later to be renamed ‘Mix-d:’ in 2009

2006 - This is England

British drama film written and directed by Shane Meadows

2008 - The UK’s First National Youth Mixed-Race Conference

Over 100 mixed-race students from across the country joined us

2009 - England & Wales population estimates

Estimates indicate a ‘Mixed’ group of 986,600 persons


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 Mixed Race by Tricky

Ninth studio album released by the musician Tricky,

2010 - Mix-d: Face

The ‘Mixed-Race’ Model competition

2011 - UK Censuses

The UK ‘Mixed’ population will comfortably exceed one million persons

2011 - Wuthering Heights

British film based on Emily Bronte’s nove

2011 - Mixed Britannia television series

BBC2 celebrates the changes that have taken place in Britain

2012 - London 2012 Olympics

London Borough of Newham, one of the most multicultural boroughs in Britain and home to a large mixed race population, was one of six host boroughs


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