UK's oldest Turkish mosque at risk of closure

Masjid Ramadan is suffering due to a dwindling congregation in an area which has been gentrified

Masjid Ramadan Mosque, in Dalston, north-east London, has seen its congregation dwindle while bills and maintenance costs have risen. Photo: Google
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The UK’s oldest Turkish mosque is at risk of closure due to rising costs and a dwindling congregation.

Erkin Güney, the owner of the Masjid Ramadan, in Dalston, north-east London, said the building’s bills have tripled in recent years and he is struggling to cover them alongside rising maintenance costs.

The mosque has received some support from the wider Muslim population but its future is still uncertain.

Mr Güney told The National he did not want to close the mosque, which is also known as Shacklewell Lane Mosque, but he could be left with no choice.

“It was the first Turkish mosque in the United Kingdom,” he said.

“We are Turkish Cypriots. The congregation either has passed away or moved out. And then 10 or 15 other mosques have opened and we have been ignored.”

The building, a former synagogue built in 1903, had been abandoned by the 1970s. Mr Güney’s father took over the building, creating the UK’s first Turkish mosque.

“We were full up for years,” Mr Güney said.

The mosque is still busy for Friday prayers but has fewer worshippers during the week, partly because its congregation has moved to cheaper areas due to the rising prices in the area, which has undergone heavy gentrification in recent years.

“Our congregation has moved out, moved on. It’s too expensive. They’ve gone to a quieter area,” he said.

“The cost of living has played a part. The Low Traffic Neighbourhood has also played a part,” he added, explaining it now takes worshippers much longer to reach the mosque due to road changes, which has put some people off attending altogether.

“From every angle we have taken a hit,” he said.

Mr Güney said the ageing building needs a lot of work.

“We need quite a few thousand pounds to maintain the building. The roof needs fixing,” he said. “The window needs fixing. The floors need fixing. The carpet needs fixing. The drainage needs fixing.”

Bills have also soared.

Mr Güney has taken to holding funerals to supplement the mosque's income, but it is tiring and he is struggling.

“I can’t do it any more. I am getting old. I am 59 years old but I am also registered disabled,” he said.

Worshippers donate between £200 and £300 in total each week, but monthly costs are £4,000, leaving a large shortfall.

Mr Güney is considering redeveloping parts of the building into apartments or shops if he cannot raise enough money for its upkeep, which would be a “tragedy”, he said.

“If we could get financial help and backing, or even an interest-free loan, maybe that will help us sustain ourselves, or we have to look at redeveloping the site with a mosque, retail outlets and some apartments. These are the conversations we’ve had with the committee,” he said.

“I believe that we are going to find an answer, Inshallah.”

Updated: March 28, 2024, 12:52 PM