Our project aims to bridge that gap and ensure there is collective understanding of Turkish Cypriots that migrated to the UK. We feel it is important to create a platform for elders to discuss their experiences of migration, their realised dreams, heritage, and embracing the past. We want to do this through utilising sound bite, documentary, interviews, and an exhibition to create a mechanism for these stories to be told. We want to collect all existing materials and ensure that it is safeguarded for future generations, we also want to link the project to sharing what we have with the young and are keen that they are involved in the delivery and in the learning. Turkish Cypriots who migrated to the UK are key to UK and have enriched our society, as those who recall the struggles, success, and journey become far less, this is the time that we need embrace and ensure that all these stories are protected.
Apart from collecting information we will place all collected material gained within the project and those safeguarded by others on a centrally based site, we want the site to remain active beyond the project and offer opportunities for those wishing to add new material found beyond the projects lifespan. We will share this material with local based museums such as Bruce Castle, and Forty Hall, we will shore this information with the Imperial War Museum, National Archive, British Library, and English Heritage.
History of Turkish Cypriot Migration
Before the First World War, very few Cypriots migrated to the UK and the British Cypriot population at this time was around 150, these were mainly involved in the arts, politicians, and merchants with a business interest in the UK. By 1931 the census figures showed that this had risen to over 1000, these figures continued to rise at a steady level until the 1950s which saw substantive rise in those in the Cypriot community making the UK its home (around 4000 Cypriots migrating to the UK a year) .The main reason for this rise was due to; violence on the island and the fear felt by both Greek and Turkish Cypriots, economic migration, to support the re-building of UK post world war 2 (similar to those who migrated from the Caribbean, Asian states and African colonies).
The increase in post-war rents in central London had forced many Cypriot immigrants to move north within the city. The Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities tended to be geographically segregated, with Greeks settling mainly in Camden and Turks in Stoke Newington. This was due to the migrants' reliance on social networks to find housing on their arrival. Robert Winder reported that "Haringey became the second biggest Cypriot town in the world”. Many Cypriots set up restaurants, filling a gap left by Italians, many of whom had been interned during the Second World War. Apart from catering, clothes making was also popular amongst the Cypriot population.
Following the 1974 conflict in Cyprus the Cypriot population became more segregated and saw the development of community network, community centres, media outlets, and shops that supported each community. Over time and with the incorporation of other Turkish Speaking people to north London, Turkish became the second most spoken Language in Haringey, Enfield, Hackney and Islington. Today according Council of Turkish Cypriot Associations (KOMSEY), an estimated an estimated 250.000 Turkish Cypriot diaspora live in the UK, the highest population concentration being within the London Borough of Enfield. Many members of this community have now taken over Turkish Cypriot Heritage Project.