The Chinese House Restaurant and
I developed a fascination about this place which disappeared many years ago and is now the site of the Chinese House Restaurant.
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Having previously written an article about Newman’s Farm, I developed a fascination about this place which disappeared many years ago and is now the site of the Chinese House Restaurant.
The farm, which I am told was probably around 50/60 donums, was at one time owned by an Englishman, Paul Newman (he was known as Charlie) and it seems the farmhouse itself was built in 1929. Charlie was there for many years and probably left Cyprus and returned to the UK in the early 1960’s. The building was taken over by Vakiflar and then followed various people, one of which was Erbil Ziya who ran a restaurant there possibly from around 1960 to 1968 (I tried to follow up this lead but sadly discovered that Erbil had died some years ago), after this there were many unsuccessful attempts to start a business over the intervening years and the building fell into disuse. After “Charlie” left the farm, there were other new Greek Cypriot milk producers on the island, so the milk bar era was gone.
I spoke to Nesrin in Zeytinlik who used to visit the farm as a child when she went to her grandparents for holidays and she remembered Charlie and the farm very well, she and her friends used to visit the beach and would call at the farm for a milk shake or an ice cream when they could. The milk shake, being an American creation, was viewed as a strange drink as no-one here had heard of milk shakes at that time. Nesrin remembered a lot of English people used to visit the farm and also servicemen who were stationed in Cyprus. I was told that it was thought Charlie originated from Cornwall, in England, he was single when he came to Cyprus and then married an English lady and they had one child initially but his wife died in childbirth with either a second or third child at Kyrenia State Hospital. This made me think that she would have been buried here in North Cyprus so I visited both of the British cemeteries and, in the older cemetery near the Lefkoşa roundabout, I found a grave with the inscription Joan C H Newman – 12th September 1954. Maybe this is where Charlie’s wife was buried, the date would be at about the right time so perhaps this is indeed the last resting place of the wife of Paul (Charlie) Newman.
Hűseyin Kanbur is Turkish Cypriot, born in 1960 and he is from Zeytinlik. He is married to İlknur and has two sons – Utku who is 19 and studying Business Management at Bradford University in England and Toyan who is 11 and still at school. Hűseyin had a very interesting story to tell about how he came to own a Chinese restaurant. When he was a young man, while studying, he worked part time at the Dragon House, a Chinese restaurant in Girne (this later became Sele restaurant and more recently Ibelli Italian restaurant) and in 1987, when the owner wanted to sell the business and return to Turkey, Hűseyin bought it. He ran this restaurant for 9 years and then took over the Newman’s Farm building and transformed it into the present day Chinese House Restaurant. An original copyright photograph of the farm, which I have viewed on the internet, shows bourganvillia covering the house but Hűseyin told me that the climbing plants now on the walls of the building were actually there when he took it over, so with careful pruning and attention, these plants have survived very well. There is also another interesting item – on the photograph of the crumbling building, a palm tree can be seen behind it and I was astounded to see that it is still there and can be seen on the current day photographs. On the very old photographs taken when the farm was in existence there is a large tree at the front which is also still there today.
Hűseyin told me that he took over the lease of the building from Vakiflar in 1996, some 16 years ago, and at that time it was very run down. Hűseyin obviously found the right niche in the market and built up his very successful business with the Chinese House. The Chinese House is now only one storey but it was originally a 2 storey building. I was amazed and delighted when Hűseyin brought out a photograph of the farmhouse with most of the upper floor gone and nothing but open ground around it. He said I could take the photograph so that I could scan it to use in my article and he would find some more for me when I visited the following week. I felt very honoured that this man, who I had never met before, trusted me with a very precious and irreplaceable photograph so I guarded it very protectively until I could return it to him, as with the other photographs he entrusted to me.
I returned to the Chinese House the following week and met up again with Hűseyin and, as promised, there were more photographs of the time when the farm was thriving, and even some of the cows can be seen. There is a Morris Traveller parked outside the house, another memory of yesteryear. I was overcome to see this piece of history unravelling before my eyes and hoped that some of the other contacts Hűseyin had given to me would be able to fill in some more of the gaps.
I have since been provided with a further photograph which it is thought could be British troops on a march stopping off for a milk shake at Newman’s Farm in the 1950’s and taking time to look at the cows.
I would like to have discovered a lot more detail about the farm and its English owner but sadly there seems to be very little in the way of records or information available, so I have to leave it at what I have written so far and hope there may be someone out there with some more information to preserve what is part of Cyprus history.
By Margaret SHEARD
See original article – Newman’s Farm
Editors note: This history of Newmans Farm is incomplete and we welcome any additional information and photos from our readers so we can update this article. Please post your information below.