Migration stories.The exodus from Lurucina and early life in the UK.



In addition to the personal collection of Ismail Veli, the photos on this page have kindly been shared by the following persons.

Tina Kemran
Veli Çuffo.

The link below below is a tribute to the life of Yusuf Osman Yeniceri. Its not possible to click on the link but typing in the website should take you to the site. Its a short six minute tribute to his life in Cyprus and Australia. A big thank you to Koz Ismail (grandson of Yusuf Yusuf 'Ku') for offering tio share the link on this site. If there are any problems please go to facebook on "Lurucina insanlar" and click on the link.


the Messapia 5.207 tons 236 passengers

The Messapia weighed 5207 Tons and had a 236 passenger capacity

Messapyia in colour 1969
Filippo Grimani photo

The Filippo Grimani (3,479 gross tons, 329 ft. long) was built in 1928.

First class cabin on the Filippo Grimani

First class cabin on the Filippo Grimani

Mr Filippo Grimani himself

Sabriye Veli 'Kirlapo' ( Ali) 1957

This photo of Sabriye Veli 'Kirlapo' (Sabriye Ali) was taken in Nicosia just before she was due to depart from Cyprus in 1957

Sabriye Veli 'Kirlapo' ( Ali) Mehmet Salih Ali  ea

This photo was originally 2 separate pictures. They were separately sent by relatives in order to help with the introduction and arrange their marriage. Mehmet-Salih joined the 2 photos and sent them back to Sabriye professing his love and hopes for their future.
The lines that were cut can clearly be seen above the shoulder of Mehmet and to the right of Sabriye's skirt

The story of Sabriye Veli (Sabriye Ali)
16.12.1938 - 24.03.2006

Sadly as Sabriye Ali died on the 24.03.2006 her story has been written posthumously as described by her in numerous conversations.

Sabriye was only 18 years old when a marriage was arranged for her to Mehmet-Salih Ali, who was from the village of Dohni / Tashkent. The problem was that Mehmet-Salih was in the UK. He had just finished working in Egypt at the Suez canal during the British French invasion in 1956. On finishing his work contract he decided that settling in the UK offered him a better life.

Sabriye's older sister Rahme was married to Mehmet Salih's cousin Cemal. As was the common practise in those days arranging a marriage to a person of good character was considered an act of goodwill. The poverty in Cyprus at that time was immense and migrating to the UK was a dream to a better life.

Sabriye often talked about her fears, apprehension and excitement about marrying a man she had never met, but was convinced by the family that a better future lay in her accepting the arrangement. Though arranged marriages in Cyprus were generally not forced, pressure to accept a good match was often heavy if not immense.

On the 25 September 1957 Sabriye, together with her sister in-law Sadiye Osman 'Gato' (married to Mustafa Veli 'Kirlapo') left Lurucina. All the family and friends were gathered in the village centre where they would board the bus to Larnaca. Wailing, excitement and sadness was an obvious outcome. People in those days knew that it may take years to see their loved ones again. Letters would take months and most often were written by a literate member of the family, then passed on to anyone who happened to travel back to the village. News of their arrival would take months to reach back to the family.

The Bus drive from Lurucina to Larnaca port was 13 miles and Sabriye cried all the way. For Sadiye it was not so bad as she was joining her husband who was already in the UK. The arrival at the port and subsequent boarding of the Fillipo Grimani was tense but a little exciting. They had never been out the country before and the outside world was completely unknown. Being used to the outside life, Sabriye found the rooms a bit claustrophobic but reasonably comfortable. Within a day or two Piraeus harbour was in view. Taking advantage of the day in port they visited the Acropolis which she often described as "ÇOK GÜZEL". It was a bit of a relief as the time spent on the ship was uncomfortable because of sea sickness. The tension was now beginning to ease and the site of the ship cutting through the waves provided some relaxing moments. The food was unfamiliar but still found to be rich and varied. Exploring the ship was interesting enough, but the highlight of the voyage was their next stop at Naples on the 29th September. The mountain of Vesuvius in the background was breath-taking. Sabriye often explained how beautiful she found the view, but could not always remember the days events.

Their disembarkation at Genoa meant that their journey with the Fillippo Grimani was at an end and the next phase was about to begin. The train ride was long and the crossing at Modane into France took place on the 1st October. Six days had passed but another 2 days of travel lay ahead. Sabriye described the train journey as long and uneventful. Sadly like most people she could not remember the ferry ride from Calais to Dover. The final destination to Victoria station was better remembered.

She often talked about missing the village and her friends, but was insistent that she never wanted to go back to live in Cyprus. Sadly it was not until the mid 1980s that she finally made her first trip back to Cyprus. She hardly recognised the changes that had taken place and often preferred to remember Lurucina as it was when she left it in 1957.

Passport stamps from the passport of Sabriye Veli. 1957

s veli passport
s veli passport 4
sabriye veli passport
s veli passport 2
S Veli passport 3

To write the story of Seyit Mehmet son of Mehmet Ramadan 'Sari' (Fgaga) and Keziban Seyit Kavaz would be a novel in itself. Having served in the British army during WW2 with his older twin brothers Hasan and Hussein was an event that left him with the tragic loss of his beloved brother Hussein. To him the tragic personal loss meant that every other memory and experience during that period was clouded with the profound grief that he carried with him to the end of his life. He knew more then most that every day we live and breath counts.
He worked hard, lived well and became a dedicated family man. Perhaps one day someone will write his story and that of his family.

Though not actually born in Lurucina, (His father was a policeman which meant he worked in various parts of Cyprus) his roots and experience is a perfect example of the courage, determination and integrity that many of us associate with the people of our Island and village. This is his story from his perspective about the events that led to his migration and early life in the UK until he met and married his wife Gokmen.
Seyit's work career took him from humble beginnings to some of the most prestigious hotels in London and elsewhere. From the Cumberland hotel in Marble Arch to Grosvenor House (G.H). Getting a job at the G.H was an enormously difficult post, but he beat many applicants to the job where he stayed from 1960 until his retirement in 1988 (except briefly in 1963) working his way up to Managerial level and, even though he toned down his work in his later life and switched to Room service Manager, he was still responsible for the 1000 rooms of the Grosvenor House. In 1963, he was head-hunted to manage the restaurant at The Royal Festival Hall - before it was opened, because they thought he was the best man for the job, but he only stayed there for 6 months, or a year, because he missed G.H. Ironically Filiz's (his grand-daughter) graduation ceremony was - at The Royal Festival Hall! In honour of his immense dedication and ability he finally received recognition for his contribution and war service by none other then heir to the throne of England Prince Charles. not to mention personal letters from Prince Phillip, the Queen and various Prime Ministers. To sum up Seyit's life one has to come to the conclusion that he was nothing short of a remarkable person. In addition he spoke seven languages all self taught, with an insatiable desire to better himself, not only did he more then made up for his lack of a degree by surpassing many people who did have degrees, but he ensured that his children would have the maximum support from him in their own chosen professions. That however is another story. No amount of words in a short article can do the man justice. Though he is no longer with us, I can safely say that his legacy is, and will remain in the hearts and minds of those fortunate enough to have known him. May he R.I.P


The story of Seyit Mehmet. D.O.B 04.12.1925- D.O.D 07.11.2007 arrived in the UK 1949
Courtesy of his daughter Tina Kemran, who has shared her fathers story posthumously.

I lived in Larnaca Cyprus where I was born. I was in the British army during WW2. I enlisted in 1942 I was demobbed in 1947. I spent some of my army service in Egypt, Palestine and Italy.
I always wanted to travel abroad as Cyprus was too small. I found Italy a big country and I wanted to see the world. I didn't really know much about England before I came. All I knew about London was Arsenal. All I remember in the 1930s as a child is that Arsenal was one of the best football teams in England. And off-course the King and Queen. In school we were taught about King George V before he died in 1936.
After being demobbed and because my father was a police man the family also wanted me to join. After five years in the army I didn't want to wear a uniform again, but just to please them I took the police examinations and passed. I decided to leave Cyprus instead and that's why I came to England. I came here by boat in 1949. It was a passenger boat, I think it was called Messapia, but there was also the Catania and Anthropy something like that (Seyit's wife stated that it was the Messapia). We went to Venice where we stayed one night. Next day we took the train and travelled to Paris. From Paris we went to Dover. The travel tickets cost £18 which I had saved while working. The boat had left from Larnaca and there were some friends. I only remember one Greek person from Larnaca and his name was Jumbo. We were the only two who spoke Italian. So when we arrived in Venice about 40 people or so stayed with us. As no one else spoke Italian. Jumbo and I arranged the hotel for the night.
After 5 days we finally arrived at London Victoria station. It was foggy and dark because it was winter. 3 months before Christmas (probably October) It was so misty and I really didn't like it at all. I had a sister who came to England 6 months before me and some other friends. In those days we had to have an invitation from someone in England to come. The invitation was sent to me by Mr Ali's wife. Ali was from Anglisides near Aytotoro which is only a couple of miles apart. We were also dunurs (in-laws in Turkish).
When I first came I stayed in Roundel Avenue in Edgeware Road just before Cricklewood. As Mr Ali's sister was married to my brother I stayed at their flat for about six months. I got a job in a restaurant in Wardour St, Piccadilly Circus just making tea and coffee. I didn't like it at all so after a couple of months I left. Relations helped find a job for me. Mr Ali and his Italian wife gave me a job in their restaurant. They are both dead now. It was a place called Number 2 Park St, it was a hotel owned by the state. At that time Labour was the government and I worked in the steer room which was a tea room. There were many people from the Colonies and British Dominions representing their countries. It was a hospitality room and the government covered all the expenses. I was only there for six months and there was not much future in it, so I left and got a job in Club man 2 in Bruce St, Piccadilly.It was a 5 star French restaurant and I was a 'comi waiter'. The menu was all in French, including 30 different soups so I found it difficult. I didn't know what to do at first as I could not speak French so I used to take the menu home and every-night I learned something new. Within six months I learnt all the menu writing and speaking in French. I stayed there for a year then I became a waiter in Mayfair hotel, soon after I got a better position at the Skindles Hotel in Maidenhead. Working very hard I became the head waiter after nine months. I have always been in Catering. When I married my wife Gokmen I was living in Jamaica Rd. We had a small wedding in a room on top of a restaurant owned by my sister. There was about forty people. We have been married for 49 years (Seyit's story was written in 2006) and we have two daughters Sylvia and Tina.

Seyit Mehmet Ramadan 1947-9. Courtesy of Tina Kemr

Gökmen Mehmet's story. Born 10.12.1936
Arrived in the UK 1954
Courtesy of her daughter Tina Kemran.

I lived in Nicosia and was a dressmaker and hairdresser. In any case my family were hairdressers.
I came to the UK in 1954 because my sister lost her daughter in London, and I came to be with her and keep her company. I also had a brother here. My family paid for my ticket to come here.

I used to get letters from my sister, so I heard a bit about London. My husband came on a ship named the Messapia an Italian boat, but that was in 1948. Mine was a different boat, It was also Italian. It was the first time I was leaving Cyprus and I was happy. I wanted to see London.

I travelled on my own. I was only 17 years old and very happy and cheerful so I made many friends on the boat and everyone also seemed excited about their journey. If I explain what it was like people would think I was a snob, because I wore a different dress everyday, most people did not do that but I really enjoyed being smart.
There was a Turkish couple from Kofunye and I became very close to them. There were also English tourists on the boat. The journey was nine days long. We finally got to Victoria train station and my sister came to pick me up. To me it (London) didn't look different except the houses looked smaller. When I went to my sister's house in Bermondsey it was also very small with a very small garden. My father's house in Cyprus was very large and in the Greek quarter, but when I lived in Bermondsey our neighbours were Turkish. There were Turkish people everywhere. It was very surprising to me.

My first job in London was in a Jam factory and it was terrible. I only worked there for two or three weeks, because I wasn't used to it. I can't remember what exactly I was doing there. My sister's husband found me a job in Aldgate as a machinist (seamstress). I enjoyed that. My last job before I got married was for a Jewish firm called Adastra in Tower Hill making trousers. I enjoyed it there and I was doing piece work. There were also many Turkish girls there. It was better than the jam factory. I used to get on the number one bus from Bermondsey which took me straight to work.

My future husbands sister introduced me to her brother, who seemed to fancy me and they arranged a meeting. In those days we had arranged marriages. He was a handsome man and within two weeks we were married. He (Mehmet her future husband) came with his father to ask for me. As was the custom I made him a Turkish coffee. I wasn't shy or nervous because I was very modern in my country (Cyprus). I was twenty years old. I was glad I got married. There was no pinning money in them days, just presents. My husband used to have a nice job in Grosvenor House. It was beautiful and once a year I used to go to a party there. We had lovely times. When you're young you enjoy life. I was looking for a man like him anyway. He was smart and different to most Cypriot people. He was very modern loved life, parties and all that. The only thing he failed was trying to teach me to smoke. I'm glad I never did, and I'm sure he was also. We had two children together both girls and we named them Sylvia and Tina.

Gokmen Mehmet

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