Heritage

Looking back at Famagusta beach in 1954

Readers mail….
From Richard Chamberlain….

At the risk of boring those that have heard my story before, I would like to tell you how Famagusta Beach used to be in 1954 when I first arrived on the beautiful Island of Cyprus and how it looks now. I arrived at the end of May 1954 to serve as a wireless operator in the Royal Signals Regiment at just outside Famagusta, we knew it as 4 mile point.

We were given a couple of days off before we started our duties, so we all went down to the beach.

Being 18 years old and just from the UK, we were not aware of the strength of the sun, so after a couple of hours in the sun, I got severely sunburned. My back came up in one big blister. We were not allowed to go sick in the army with sunburn, it was classed as self-inflicting injury. So I just had to suffer until it got better. After that, I took more care!

Famagusta Beach and surrounding buildings were a very different scene from today.There were no hotels, only small private houses and bungalows. The Army had one house at the beach for the soldiers to have a beer or get changed for swimming. People talk about the “Island of Paradise”, but it really was in those days.

Everywhere changes over the years and nowhere as much as the waterfront at Famagusta Beach. The property developers bought up the small houses and bungalows and built massive hotels on the edge of the beach. So close to the sea edge that around 2 pm each day the sunshine is blocked out by the shadow of the hotels.

The hotels should have been built further back to allow the sun to be on the beach and sea for later in the afternoon, so allowing the sunbathers and holidaymakers more time to enjoy the sun,  There is talk about opening up “Varosha”, we knew it as Famagusta, and if they do and find out that a lot of the hotels are unsafe after 60 years, and have to be demolished, let us hope the builders and planners will have sense and forethought to move the new hotels further back away from the waters edge., like the Palm Beach Hotel pictured in 1954 and now. The Palm Beach Hotel, owned now by the Arkin Group is a beautiful 5 Star hotel. I have stayed there many times.

The sea and the beach are still one of the most beautiful in the world, and even in these dark days of COVID=19, you can still go there and enjoy it. I went there a few days ago, and the sea was lovely.

Best wishes to all CyprusScene readers,

Richard Chamberlain

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