Monday at 14.55, December 31, 1951. The last train belonging to the Cyprus Government Railway left Nicosia. We arrived in Famagusta at 16.38. Now the road has come to an end.
A new, almost forgotten chapter of Cypriot history has reappeared in a different way. The "Cyprus Railway Museum", which was created at the old railway station, which is the southern terminal of Evrychou village in the Troodos mountains, was restored and opened to the public. Original documents, drawings, photographs, objects from Cypriot railways, station and train models are exhibited in the museum, which plays a role in minor and major changes in the daily lives of citizens. There are two old wagons in the garden of the museum.
At the beginning of the 20th century, during the British period, Cyprus experienced great economic difficulties due to the taxes paid to the Bab-ı Ali. Road transport was almost non-existent. Transportation was carried out only by horse carriages, goods were carried on donkeys. Cyprus Railway, which started to operate in 1905, was regarded as an innovative project that raises the transportation sector, as an element that promotes trade by developing the road network. The railway, which is narrow, small and moving slowly, continued to operate from 1905 to 1951.
The first episode, completed in October 1905, connected Famagusta to Nicosia. This was followed by the Nicosia - Omorfo (31 March 1907) and Evrichou (14 June 1915) railways.
Ieronimidou: 10 stations, 27 stops
Ms. Maria Solomides Ieronimidou, Head of the Antiquities Department, told KHA that there are 122 stations and 10 stops on the 27-kilometer line. The railway, which started from Famagusta, reached Nicosia by passing through the Mesaori plain. From there, he was going to Omorfo, passing through many stops. The last section of the railway, Omorfo - Evrihu, was opened in 1915. Apart from this, there were other smaller mining routes in Cyprus, carrying mines and minerals from Skouryiotissa, Mitsero, Kalavaç and Limnid. There were very few serious and fatal accidents in the period when the railways were operating. Most of these accidents were due to train derailment and law breaking, or as a result of pedestrians and animal carriages passing carelessly across the street, or when trains collided with motor vehicles at intersections.
"It connected the villages to the cities"
Ieronimidou stated that the railway connected the villages to the cities, carried the postal and telegraphs to the regions that were isolated until that day, namely villages, contributed to the development of trade and the settlement in the regions where the stations were located increased. He stated that the railway carried a total of 7,348 passengers and 643 tons of cargo and mail in its entire working life.
During the Second World War, Cyprus railways played a very important role in transporting troops, supplies and ammunition from Famagusta to the Royal Air Force airport in Nicosia.
Ieronimidou announced that the Cypriot railways were closed for economic reasons. “As a result of constant work, the locomotives and railway were getting old. The government did not want to pay a lot of money to replace them. Besides, it was very difficult to compete with the developing road transport in the meantime, ”he said.
The rails and train machines were dismantled and put up for sale as old iron. Only the number 1 machine, which was placed outside Famagusta and is still there today, remains. Some of the tracks are still around the Cyprus Radio Broadcasting Corporation today.
A total of 12 people, including 112 supervisors and 352 workers, worked for the dismantling of the station. Despite the fact that many Cypriots were working on the Cypriot railways at that time, high administration was in the hands of the British, who had training and experience in particular. Stations were either handed over to various government departments or demolished. Evrichou, Famagusta, Omorfo and Kokkinotrimitia stations are still standing today.
The goal was to move various mines to Omorfo Bay.
The aim of the mining railways, which started to be operated by the Cyprus Mining Company in 1915, was to move various mines from Skuryiotissa to Omorfo bay in Karavostasi. According to the Department of Antiquities, these railways met Cyprus railways in the Karkoti creek area. In addition, there were other railways that carried the mines from Kalavasos and Drapias to the Vasiliko factory. The railway in question continued to operate until 1977.
There were railways for transporting goods in Kyrenia, Limassol and Paphos ports and especially in Larnaca Salt Lake. However, the wagons operated with hand levelers or animals, not steam. The Cyprus Railways Museum is today located in the old railway station in the village of Evrychou in the Troodos mountains. The Department of Antiquities declared this area, which was closed in 1932, as the Old Monument in 2002, and the restoration work was initiated in 2005. The necessary materials for the museum were provided by the Laiki Bank Cultural Center and Nicosia Municipality.
Road map on display
The museum features five exhibition halls and a mansion where souvenir objects are sold. In the museum, original documents, drawings, photographs, objects from Cyprus railways, station and train models are on display. The road map of the Cyprus Railways is on display in the electronic signboard. İeronimidou stated that the aim of this museum is to revitalize a forgotten but very important part of our history, and that so far a very important work has been carried out.