THE island’s first railway museum will officially open on Saturday after the initial inauguration was postponed due to the Solea forest fires in June.
The museum, which has unofficially been open since 2014, is located in an old railway station near the village of Evrychou on the lower slopes of the Troodos mountains.
From the station only the main building has survived and has been restored by the antiquities department. It contains original documents, drawings, photos and various objects related to the old railway system, as well as scale models of the main stations.
“At the entrance there is a big map of Cyprus with all the stations,” archaeological officer Evi Fiori explained on Wednesday, “and there are six rooms with different themes.”
One room is about the beginning of the railway’s construction. Other parts of the building show the locomotives and carriages, and other tell the story of the various services and the people who worked for the company. There is also a section on the period when the railway was closed down.
“We have a television screening a film about the history, and a lot of small screens and photos,” Fiori said. “We have a lot of visual material but not a lot of objects, as we have tried to use many different ways to display the history. For example, in one room we have a model of an employee wearing a uniform with an old telephone on his desk and we also have a big log book where all the repairs were recorded in detail.”
Outside and behind the museum, the platform and part of the track have been rebuilt with the use of the original rails. A hand pump track used for the inspection of the line and a freight wagon are also exhibited under a shed in the yard.
The Cyprus Government Railway (CGR) was in operation from 1905 to 1951 and extended from Famagusta in the east to Morphou in the west passing through Nicosia.
The inauguration ceremony of the Cyprus railway back in 1905 took place at the Famagusta station with the arrival of High Commissioner Charles Anthony King Harman on the first train from Nicosia.
In the days before airmail, the railway was used to transport mail to and from the Khedivial Line ships which called at Famagusta harbour and carried mail overseas. The railway was also used for the distribution of mail around the island, where stations such as Angastina, Trachoni, Kalo Chorio and others, also served as postal offices or agencies.
The railway was closed down due to financial constraints with road transport having developed at the expense of the railway. Only some trains were still running until 1974 to transport minerals and other heavy goods of the Cyprus Mines Corporation from the Skouriotissa copper mine down to the jetty at Xeros.
The museum is open daily from 8.30am to 4pm and in summer (16/4-15/9) from 9.30am to 5pm.