September 23, 2023

Readers Mail ….
From Richard Chamberlain ….

Following on from last week’s article about the opening up of Varosha, here are some photos of the main street of what was Famagusta, now known as Varosha or Maraş.

The Open Air Cinema in Famagusta

Democraciat Avenue was the main street through the lovely town of Varosha. It had some lovely shops and buildings. there was an indoor cinema and also an outdoor cinema. The soldiers often used to go to the outdoor cinema and enjoy the English or American films. There were also several restaurants and cabarets, like the popular Spitfire and Ambassador cabarets. The soldiers were banned from using them because there were “Ladies of the Night” there!  Quite often, the army military police would raid the Spitfire and take away any soldiers they found in there with girls! One night a friend of mine hid in the wardrobe to avoid getting caught by the military police!

Another popular place was the meat stall where the soldiers could buy a meat sandwich roll.  The meat was hung up in the open air and slices cut from it as required.  In today’s times of Health & Safety rules, it is interesting to note that we never had any bad repercussions from eating these sandwiches.  Perhaps we were made of stronger stuff than the youth of today!

There were many interesting characters in Famagusta at that time, one of which was an old tramp whose name was Nikolas Menikou (Boujias) who was a regular sight in the town.  This photo is taken outside the Spitfire Cabaret.   He eventually got fed up with me photographing him and threw his walking stick at me!

The Kodak shop where the soldiers bought their film and camera equipment

There was a very popular photo and camera shop in that avenue owned by a very good photographer named Andreas Sotteriou. He produced a lot of postcards of Cyprus that the troops would buy to send back to the UK to their friends and relations. Unfortunately, when the Turkish Troops entered Varosha, Andreas Sotteriou fled with the rest of the town’s inhabitants, leaving behind most of his negatives and prints of Cyprus. Later he was able to get together a lot of his postcards and with the finance and help of Marfin Laiki Bank, they produced a beautiful book of photos of Cyprus as it was during 1940 and 1950.

I hope you enjoy having a brief glimpse of what the main avenue of Famagusta was like in 1954.

Here are a few more photos taken in 1954 with Richard’s French Gallus Derlux camera.

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