Estimates of how many Turkish Cypriots live in the UK vary widely. Some believe it can be as many as a quarter of a million people. No accurate records exist. The community’s presence in Britain dates back to over 100 years, when His Majesty’s Government formally annexed Cyprus in 1914.
An Order in Council, passed on November 27, 1917, gave the island’s citizens the right to travel and settle in their new “motherland” as British subjects. Initially few Turkish Cypriots took up the opportunity to start a new life on the far side of Europe. Indeed, most chose to move to Turkey so they would not be subjected to British rule.
Since the 1940s, numbers in the UK have grown considerably. Today, most are resident in and around the capital, concentrated in north and south-east London.
There was some semblance of unity up until the 1974 war in Cyprus, when a variety of factors led to the community’s fragmentation. Funds donated by the Turkish government in 1951 allowed Turkish Cypriots to purchase a community building on D’Arblay Street, Soho, that was administered by the Kıbrıs Türk Cemiyeti (Cyprus Turkish Association).
It quickly became the community hub: a place to get advice, meet people and enjoy some homecooked food in the canteen of the multi-storey building.
Following the outbreak of the Cyprus conflict in December 1963, it was the headquarters for disseminating information about missing persons to worried relatives in London.
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