Morphou yesterday and today
Citrus Culture – Gardening Club – SODEM
Citrus cultivation has continued to expand at a faster pace in our area. West, up to Syrianohori and the sea, south to Pentagya, east to Astromeritis – Peristerona – Akaki.
The perforations were increasing and multiplying, working nightly to water the planted areas. The rainfall could not replenish the pumped water in time, so its level was continually lowering. The danger of seawater entering the aquifer was visible. In some areas the waters have become brackish. Fortunately, however, the construction of the Morphou dam, a project that was very beneficial for the irrigation and enrichment of groundwater in the area, was completed in the mid-1960s. Three large streams, from Peristerona, Akakios and Kokkinotrimithia are united near Katokopia and form the Serrachi River. The dam was constructed 5-6 kilometers further down the river bed between Morphou-Argaki.
The citrus fruit income was very good then. In addition to the genuine gardeners, most of those who had plots of land in the area, regardless of occupation, planted their own orchards, thus securing additional income. The residents of Morphou were envied because the area was considered one of the most prosperous on the island.
Many have gossiped about the nice houses, impressive mansions for the time, built on the side of the road between Zodias and Morphou (those houses are certainly pale in comparison to what is now built in the tourist…kingdoms).
Cultivation and disposal of citrus fruits, like of course all kinds of fruit on the earth, were affected by many difficulties (irrigation, diseases, adverse weather conditions, securing favorable prices, etc.). However, progress and scientific advances have provided farmers with many facilities, such as tractor farming, large or manual small tractors, spraying with appropriate substances and specialized sprinklers, transport with cars or vans, use of fertilizers rich in elements.
In order to better assist the gardeners both in cultivation, but above all in the distribution and export of fruit abroad, the Gardening Club was established in Morphou, which was based at Leptos’ coffee house, in the center of Ermou Street. The Club has basically helped producers export the products through traders, collectively selling them at slightly more reasonable prices and avoiding exploitation by them. However, the steady increase in production has led to a more radical approach to the situation and the producers established the Cooperative Organization Disposal Citrus Morphou (SODEM) themselves. The Organization, with its own manager, staff and, above all, its large packaging plant in the south of the town, was organizing its own direct exports to the countries of destination.
In April 1970, people who looked forward, mainly from Morphou such as Christakis Vassiliadis, Giannakis Psintridis, Dimitris Palaontas and others founded the private company Fresca Foods Ltd with an initial capital of £30,000, a quite large amount at the time. At the Company’s factory, on the south side of the town and on the side of the road to Xero, grapefruit juice and grapefruit compote, sultanas, cherries, apricot marmalade and other fruit juices were produced.
This business was to start with the investment of an Englishman who rented the site and made a down payment. In the end, however, he informed that he would not implement his decision because he was aware that the north of Cyprus, including Morphou, would be occupied by the Turks. The aforementioned persons laughed at the “naivety” of the Englishman and proceeded to start the business themselves. The business was doing very well until the disaster the Englishman had predicted came!
AGRICULTURAL OCCUPATIONS IN FIRST
HALF THE 20TH CENTURY
Concluding the description of the events and developments of Morphou by 1950, and before proceeding to the following years, it is important to refer to the subject of agricultural occupations of the inhabitants of Morphou and of the whole region by that time.
After all, one can claim that more than 80% of the population at that time had agriculture, citrus cultivation and sheep and goat farming as their primary occupations.
The report of events is based more on my personal experiences and on the information received from the Library of the Department of Agriculture.
When you tell today’s young people what life was like in all its facets and views, just half a century ago, they think you are talking about at least the Middle Ages. What a difference for just one generation! How were we born and raised, and how our children were! Who our surroundings were and who is theirs. The difference is such that it would have been unthinkable for us, too, if we had not lived it. In the following lines I will try to bring to light the agricultural occupations of the farmers of Morphou in the first half of the 20th century, their suffering, bitterness and hardship as well as their happy moments as I experienced them as a child with my grandparents. They had both the joy and satisfaction of observing their own wheat in the warehouse, beans, broad beans, black-eyed peas and flax in the sacks. It all came out of their sweat and blood. Even when he was still picking watermelon from his own garden, my grandfather used his “pocket knife”, cut it in pieces and enjoyed it in warm weather, after exhausting work, saying “Thank God, there is no better fruit”.
The truth is that the farmers of Morphou have been very lucky and privileged. Their fields were lowland and fertile, with rich underground waters, which then dug into the surface with watermills or machines from wells 5-10 meters deep. They also had two or three running waters. However, let us also consider the difficulties of the time:
- Their parcels scattered here and there. One in Teratsia, the other in Stefania, another in Santenis or Gnafkia and the other in Podina. They were miles away from each other.
- Commute and transport were mostly made with animals, the most prosperous ones used carts. They spent several hours on the road.
- Primitive means. Wooden plow, scythe mowing, threshing with doukani (threshing sledge), sowing and fertilizing with hands, watering with shovel, carving and shoveling with hoe and shovel.
- Plant Diseases – Pesticides are scarce and difficult to find. There is almost no advice at all.
- Products sale. Exclusive dependence on traders who picked up as much fruit as they could at their own price. After all, they made a “favour” to buy the fruit. Trading councils, cooperatives for the sale of products were illusory.
THE AGRICULTURAL OCCUPATIONS DURING SPRING
Grains and barley are in development. What they need is rain. “Only if it rains twice in March twice, and another once in April”. The stem of the plant will grow; the crops will fill. But the hectic May rainstorms or hail can cause havoc. The plants were crushed, were laid on the ground, and the fruit was spoiled.
Barley is ready by the end of April. Almost immediately after EASTER, if the weather was warm, the scythe dance would begin. By mid-May the barley had been harvested and carried in threshing floors. In early June, the wheat harvest began. The left hand grasped the stems, the right hand cut them with the scythe (upside down for the left hand). Bunches of the harvested were spread out in the field. Then followed the picking and wrapping in bundles. The bundles were stacked and loaded onto the animals or carts to be transported to the threshing floor. For those who know, this required a lot of skill.
The Vegetables (Watermelons, Melons)
In March, with regular moisture in the fields, the planting of the vegetables was done in the following order:
- Cultivation of the field with the wooden plow.
- Opening of ditches with the plow, two meters apart.
- 2 – 3 watermelon or melon seeds were shed and covered in each ditch, in pits. The pits were about one meter apart. That is, a sufficient space was left in which the watermelon or melon plant would be spread.
- In order to provide a variety of foods for the farmer’s family, black-eyed peas, okra, tomatoes, aubergines, etc. were planted in the same field.
- When the plants were sprouting, the surrounding area was carved to eradicate any weeds and soften the soil. A little fertilizer for growth was thrown around the root.
- As the plants grew, sulfur was used to prevent “ash”, which, if not prevented, made the plants a real ash. Another dreadful disease, which came when the plants became fruitful, was that they “mellowed out”.
The varieties used at that time were (green-white) watermelons, round or long. The melons were dominated by the well-known “kochinia”, which are scarce today and the “leather” melons, with hard skin. In early June the first “kochinia” appeared. Good, ripe watermelons appeared in July.
Large areas of the land of Morphou were planted with beans during two periods. The one for the summer were planted in March and harvested in July, the ones for winter were planted in August and harvested in November. The latter were thicker than the former, without knowing the reason. The variety was the same. The beans were planted just like other legumes, black-eyed beans (louvia), broad beans (koukia) etc. When the field was normally wet, that is to say, it had an “orkos” (moisture) then the fertilizer would be scattered by hand on the field if needed. The farmer started with the wooden plow drawn by two animals and opened the first ditch. Another followed and threw the seeds one by one into the ditch. On returning, the plow covered the first ditch with the soil of the second one, which was opened at its side. The seeds were thrown in the same way in the second ditch and so on until the whole field was sown. When the sowing was complete and the field had to be completely leveled, the so-called “saraklos” (harrow) was used. It was a tool made of wood, a bit wide, about a foot heavy and about 2 meters long. It was dragged by animals, led by the farmer, who was standing on it to make it heavier. The harrowing closed well the ditches, covered all the seeds and completely leveled the field.
Fields planted with legumes, vegetable and other summer fruits should have been able to be “watered”, ie they could be watered by drilling when the plants looked thirsty. The watering was done with the system of “kaloushi”, ie the whole field was watered, so it had to be levelled. The field was divided by low “banks” into narrow blocks of 4-5 meters wide to help water enter each block. If this was not the case, the farmer would direct the water with his shovel to water the entire field, opening up the so-called “katevates”. Summer beans needed watering every 8-10 days while the winter ones only needed to be watered every 15 days due to the milder weather.
By the end of July, the beans were ready to be harvested. This was done by uprooting each plant. They were bundled, loaded on donkeys or carts and transported to threshing floors. After drying well, they were threshed with the “doukani” (threshing sledge), they opened the shells and the grain stood out. After the plants were satisfactorily shredded, a pile was formed and the winnowing followed.
The grain was separated from straw, which was an excellent animal feed. Likewise, mature broad beans (koukia) were harvested and threshed in May. Another procedure was followed for black eyed beans (louvia). The seed gradually exits the plant. That is why the ripe shells are gradually collected, spread out in the sun and, after being well dried, they are cut into pieces to separate the seed, the dry beans. Occasionally the same work goes on and the plant, if kept healthy, still offers fresh “thilakia” (shells) until autumn.
During spring, citrus fruits, mainly of the “yafitika” variety and cultivated in a small area at the time, were also harvested.
But in each orchard there were also some lemon and tangerine trees as well as trees with sweet fruits (siekkerika) for the needs of family, relatives and friends. Citrus fruits were then consumed locally. Personally I do not recall exporting abroad (I mean before 1950).
THE WORKS OF SUMMER SEASON
The harvesting and transportation of the bundles to the threshing floors was completed in June. The threshing floor was a parcel of a field that was covered with clay mixed with straw. It was the same mixture that was used to coat the roofs of houses, to made bricks or to plaster the brick walls.
The bundles were stacked on haystacks beside the threshing floor. At one end stood a shack made of woods and branches above, for some shade in the summer heat. The barley was first threshed and then the wheat. The bundles were spread on the threshing floor and untied.
Spreading was made with the metal “dekrani” (pitchfork). The tool for threshing was the doukani (threshing sledge), a heavy wooden construction, approximately 3 x 1 m with the front part raised, so that it could be easily pulled. At the bottom, the doukani brought well-attached, sharp and narrow special stones called “athkiatzia”. It was usually dragged by two animals, oxen preferably, led by a person sitting in the doukani, to make it heavier.
The “athkiatzia” with their sharp sides, patiently trimmed the stems and cobs until a mixture of hay and grain was formed, ready to be winnowed. The barley, short and loose, took a week to melt, whereas the wheat needed two. The mixture of straws and grain was called “malama”. In order to prevent the animals dragging the doukani (threshing sledge) from bending down to eat the “malama”, their mouth was closed with a construction made of wood and reeds called “tzimos”. The ready-to-winnow “malama” was collected in a narrow pile by using some special wooden shovels that didn’t damage the threshing floor.
Winnowing was a celebration. The whole family and relatives gathered at the threshing floor to help. As soon as the west wind began to blow well, the winnowing began by using some special wooden pitchforks (dekrania). The wind swept away the lighter straw and left the fruit in the pile. Winnowing continued until the straw was completely separated from the fruit. Once this was accomplished, the fruit was sieved with metal sieves to clear it of stones, dirt clumps and other objects. The fruit, wheat or barley, was transported in sacks with animals or carts to the producer’s warehouse at home, and kept in so-called “psatharkes”, cylindrical constructions out of cane. The fruit was poured from above into the psatharka, like in a “silo”. At the bottom there was a hole closed with a cloth. When the cloth was removed, the fruit was running in a container. The amount of fruit produced was measured by the “abousta”, a small, cylindrical container of certain dimensions and capacity. The quantity was measured in ‘kiles’, which had nothing to do with the current quantity of kilos (kilograms). That is why the barley or wheat was fixed on such “aboustas” or kiles. The straw was also carried in large sacks, on the farmer’s barn, with an opening at the edge of the roof. By using a ladder, a handler lifted the sack with the straw on the roof and poured the straw into the warehouse from the opening, emptying the sack.
Melons, especially the “kotsinia”, began to ripen in early June, but the best ones came by the end of June and July. Well, ripe watermelons came out in July. Since the gardens were watered in the summer, it was necessary to turn the melons and watermelons carefully, so the side exposed to moisture did not get rotten. Ripe melons and watermelons were piled up in the field and then put at the edge of the field. This was helped by donkeys with sacks or baskets on their backs. At the edge of the field, the merchants received them to transport them to the cities for local consumption. In years of high production, I remember that the prices of watermelon wholesalers dropped to ½ piastre per oka, ie 1/18 of shilling (each shilling had 9 piastres.).
The “peliasma” (shoveling) of citrus fruits
There were still no tractors, neither large nor small, to assist the farmers. That is why the cultivation for the destruction of wild weeds in fields was done manually by “tsapisma” (hoeing) with the wide hoes or “peliasma” (shoveling) with a shovel (peli). The peli was a sharp shovel on a long wood. Just above the metal shovel there was also an iron mounted on the wood, which was pressed by the worker to force the shovel into the soil and turn it around. This was pretty hard work.
The planting of winter beans
In August, the fields were irrigated with ‘kaloushi’ and as soon as their humidity was adequate (they had ‘orkos’) the seed was sown with the help of the wooden plow as described above.
My grandfather, like other farmers, used to sow flax in a small piece of wheat field. The flax was growing and ended at the same time as the wheat. In June, it was uprooted (not harvested) and tied in bundles. When the work was done on the threshing floor, the grandfather dug the flax to the side where the seeds were, so that only the stem remained. He was loading the bundles of the flax stems into the donkey’s saddle, and we were carrying them in a “kolimbos” (puddle) on the River Ovgos, near the monastery of Panagia (Virgin Mary) tou Mnasi.
Ovgos started from the area of Kontomenos, collected rainwater, was narrow and deep, passed north of Morphou and joined the Serrachis River, about 2 kilometers before the Gulf of Morphou. In the riverbed of this stream, small puddles (kolimboi) formed from waters that came from springs in the riverbed.
In one of these puddles we dipped the flax bundles. They stayed there for 8 days and we let them dry in the sun. Within a few days, they were being transported home dry.
In autumn, when jobs were scarce, or in winter, grandfather swingled the flax stems with a special thick wood and used a spindle to extract linen threads for various uses.
Also, in the summer, artisia (cumin-like spice) as well as chickpeas were uprooted and cultivated in large quantities.
THE WORKS OF AUTUMN SEASON
The main work of autumn was the preparation of the fields and the sowing of cereals. Cultivating, fertilizing and waiting for much-desired rain. On November 3rd is the feast of Saint George, the Sporos (sower). Under normal circumstances, during these days, sowing should be at its peak. Wheat and barley were sown in the field by hand. Then followed the cultivation of the field with the wooden plow, with one ditch next to the other, one covering its former, together with the seeds from the soil. For the complete leveling, the work was completed with saraklisma (leveling).
In November, the winter bean crop was also harvested. Due to the low temperatures the shells could not ripen well at the same time. The bean plants were collected in sheds or in the “solar panels” of the houses. There, family women, relatives and neighbors were cutting the shells. The white or semi-dried, were spread out in the autumn sun to dry and be crushed until the fruit came out.
The green ones were suitable for being cooked as “xikounia” (boiled). The rest were sold on the market. My personal memories of these nights are intense, when relatives gathered around the “fokou” (barbecue) in the cold nights, cut the shells, and chattered.
THE WORKS OF WINTER
Winter was essentially a time of rest and prayer! They were praying for good rain to fall, hail not to fall. The hail, chopped the grains or laid them down, which left marks on the citrus fruits and thus they could not be sold. The rains had to be both satisfactory and periodic, to help the crop grow.
Heavy snowfall in the mountains was and is necessary for the enrichment of groundwater. The Morphou area was very rich in groundwater and the enrichment was done by the Troodos Mountains. But to give the mountains they have to take.
In winter, there were only a few farming activities, but grandfather did not stay out of business. He used to knit “fartous” with a bulrushes (sklinitzia). To the north of Syrianochori, 1-2 km. from the sea and near the mouth of the Serrachis River, there is an area we then called the “meadows”. The water there was almost on the surface, and in two places near and in the village there was artesian water flowing.
The area was covered with bulrushes because of the humidity. Few fields had been cleared by farmers, they were sandy, and they were planted with black-eyed peas (louvia) and dry (“anedra”) vegetable. Even the oblong watermelons, from the “meadows” were delicious too.
In the summer, we uprooted stems of burlrushes with my grandfather, which he broke, one by one with a special tool, and kept them. With bundles of them he knit the “fartous”. They were containers for several products large enough with two “ears” on top. Two persons were holding them to transport them each holding one ear. These “fartoi” were put up for sale by the grandfather, either at festivals or at the farmer’s market, on weekends.
He sold them for 5 shillings one, which was quite significant at the time. Likewise, smaller containers, called “zembilia”, were made and only one person could carry them. Others constructed “sirizes”, which were two “fartoi” joined together to fit the donkey’s or mule’s backs and to hang the one on the one side and the other one on the other side.
Of course, our farmers were not completely inactive in winter. They did the “weeding” to get rid of weeds (arkasti (devil’s grass, lapsanes (sinapis) etc) on broom shrubs, artisia, and other plants. Herbicides had not yet arrived.
It is also worth noting that potatoes were also planted in spring and late summer but in small quantities (two crops). Similar were the broad bean and cotton plantations. Everything could be planted in the fertile land of Morphou. Eventually the most profitable ones prevailed. The basic rule of political economy is specialization
DEMOGRAPHIC STATUS IN MORPHOU DISTRICT
DURING THE BEGINNING OF THE 20TH CENTURY
According to the official information of the 1902 Census, we are informed of the following about the Morphou District:
The total population of Cyprus was 237,022 inhabitants. Unfortunately, the relevant publication does not mention how many Greeks and how many Muslims Turks there were. The distribution of the population in Morphou and the neighboring communities was as follows:
VARIOUS MUNICIPAL AND OTHER WORKS
a) NEW SLAUGHTERHOUSE
Οn January 6, 1921, Morphou published the following statement in the “ELEFTHERIA” Newspaper:
“Our Town Hall is worthy of praise because it has built a new slaughterhouse across the Serrachi River, far from the town. It was about time to get rid of the terrible smell coming from the old slaughterhouse to the best street of our town.”
This was about the slaughterhouse that operated next to the north bank of the Serrachis, on the road leading to the site that later became the Municipal Stadium. Next to it were the warehouses with oil and other products of the trader Charalambides. Only older people remember the slaughterhouse because it later closed down and was replaced by a modern new slaughterhouse on the road to Kapouti, beyond the Public Garden, under Mayor Nikolopoulos.
In the above statement, it was also reported that the Morphou Municipal Council decided in principle to provide electricity for the town and it was to be organised in the best possible way.
“It will be gratifying if this happens even though the “disease” of a city with electricity is frightening.”
The Cyprus Mines Corporation (C.M.C.) had already been thinking in the past to provide electricity to various communities in the area, including Morphou.
In the meantime, Nicosia had already been provided with electrical lighting and machines. These had also been ordered for the city of Paphos. However, it is a fact that there were problems and differences about the electrical lighting in Nicosia, and therefore there were concerns over the implementation of various plans.
Finally, in 1926, under Mayor Ieridis, a special building was constructed to store the necessary mechanical power generation equipment. The building was built opposite, south and very close to the premises and the Church of St. Mamas.
At the same time, piles and wires were set up to divert electricity and light the central streets of the town. Two large engines with power generators were ordered and put in their appropriate places. The one machine was bigger than the other.
When the night fell, the big engine was switched on and streets were lit and power was provided to those houses whose owners could afford the installation and pay the corresponding bill. Around 11 at night, power consumption was falling, so they switched off the big engine and switched on the smaller one, apparently to save costs. At 2 am the second one was also switched off. Electricity would return the following evening.
c) THE SECOND NEOCLASSICAL LARGE SCHOOL BUILDING
On February 19, 1921, a reporter from “Ω” from Morphou, wrote in the newspaper ELEFTHERIA:
“Last Monday, the Most Reverend (Makarios Miriantheas) called the priests of the town in the Diocese to discuss the assignment of the Girls’ school to the Diocese and how to erect a new one, since the present one was inappropriate, as well as the issue of setting boundaries between the three parishes of the town and making Sunday a holiday in Morphou too. Only the last two issues were decided on, the first one still being considered.”
A few explanatory notes on the subject of Schools: The first school building, inaugurated in 1910, was eventually used as a Boys’ school. Thus, the rooms of the former Boys’ school were used for the Girls’ School, next to the premises of St. Mamas Monastery, with a school yard, where the new building of the Morphou Diocese was later built.
Considering the above report, it seems that the operation of the Girls’ School has started to become problematic. So they started thinking about building a second new, modern school building for the needs of the Girls’ School. The Diocese requested the space where the Girls’ School operated, in return for help in the construction of the new building. There was skepticism on this subject, but the demarcation of the three ecclesiastical parishes of Morphou, namely St. Mamas, St. George and St. Paraskevi as well as the issue of establishing Sunday as a holiday were easily arranged.
Further developments in the construction of the new school building are recorded in the report of Ω in ELEFTHERIA on 7 February 1925. The Municipal Council, as a School Committee for Primary Schools, has contracted a loan of £1500 for the construction of a Girls’ School. With the approval of the supervisor of schools and the certification of the rural doctor of Morphou, a suitable site was chosen, on which “this year, our new building would be built.”
“The place chosen is truly wonderful by taking into account hygiene and appearance, so that the new school building will fulfill its multiple purposes and at the same time be a glittering jewel of our town. “
The choice of place was also approved by the Governor of Nicosia, who visited Morphou. During the same visit, the Governor also attended the inauguration of the then newly built Ottoman school of Morphou, where Ηodja of the small Muslim community spoke.
The new Greek school building is what we have come to know as a Boys’ school, on the south bank of the Serrachis River. The reason is that when the building was completed, it was decided that the Boys’ School would move there and the older building would function as a Girls’ School.
The twin neoclassical school buildings, opposite each other, from the mid-1920s, were a true jewel and a great source of pride for the city of Morphou until the day it was invaded.
d) DRINKING WATER
Concerning the supply of drinking water to households, the older ones know that there were pits in the courtyards of the houses that pumped nice, clean cold water. The pits were not deep because there was no water over-abstraction at that time.
However, there were unsolvable problems for a growing and developing town of 4-5 thousand inhabitants. That is why the authorities were constantly thinking of ways to solve the problem of transportation and branching of drinking water in the centre of the town and even in houses. So those were the pleasant news for the beginning of the realization of this great effort.
In August 1922 the Governor of Nicosia, the Chief Engineer and Engineer of the Government, the Chief Assistant to the Chief Secretary, J. M. Ellis, visited Morphou to examine the drinking water of Morphou, for which the Government had donated 1500 pounds.
They all visited Kleanthis Lymbouris on the spot, but he was not satisfied with the price they offered to him. That is why government engineers designed another well for drinking water near the Serrachi River, with work scheduled to begin immediately (ELEFTHERIA 2.9.1922). On 14.10.1922 it was reported that preliminary work on the drilling of wells to transport water to the town has begun. So it would have plenty of drinking water to fill a noticeable shortage. In June 1923, Governor of Nicosia, Sharitz examined the drinking water and gave his ideas on how to branch it off into Morphou.
Finally, the water that was transferred to Morphou with the wells was much more than needed for the water supply. The excess was used for the irrigation of fields.
Reporter X published a hymn on the newspaper to this “spring water”, exaggerating a little but with a lot of emotion:
“It is almost the only treasure that our town has today, the abundant spring water. It transformed the town into a green carpet, giving it life and strength in those difficult times of our time, when everything is in danger of financial decline. It flows in the crystal clear gutters, now irrigating 20-24 acres a day, making everyone excited and grateful for its supply. “
The asbestos company proposed to branch water in the town with asbestos pipes, and Mr. N. Paximiadis from Cairo requested to be authorized to light the city. “The Morphou Municipal Council is considering both issues as very serious, by receiving relevant information from various sources.”
Much later, in April 1929, reporter A referred to the water management by the Town Hall. The water was branched off at Morphou with a government grant of £2500. The surplus was sold to farmers and brought in £600 of yearly income. However, there were protests because they were partisan in the provision of water to farmers and attention had to be paid to prevent quarrels. It was also suggested that this amount should have been put into a special fund and gradually create an Agricultural Bank, to save not only the people of Morphou but the whole region.
e) THE PUBLIC GARDEN
In October 1922 we had more pleasant news for our beautiful Morphou. It was about the opening of the Public Garden, which brought so much excitement and beauty to Morphou and its people.
“In addition to the existing ones, another attraction is now being added, which will contribute even more to the love for nature, that is the new Public Garden. The Municipality of Morphou, which has been led by Mr K. Georgiadis for many years, and to whom the town owes a lot, has recently bought a large area of land for £90. Thanks to the efforts of the Mayor and other actors in the town, the government has undertaken all the costs for the opening, development and maintenance of this Public Garden, which will belong to the Municipality.”
In May 1923 the plan of the Public Garden was completed with an excellent plan by the Government’s engineer. Reconstruction of a small and elegant café with his own designs began shortly. This is a polygonal building in the north of the garden, a few meters to the right of which the windmill with its large tank was installed to irrigate the garden.
The Municipality Morphou decided to plant the road to the Public Garden and undertook all the expenses. Magnificent eucalyptus was planted along the road to Kyrenia and by the garden side. In the center of the garden, the beautiful Araucaria, a rare plant at that time, was planted and grew, which impressed everyone. In June 1923 the Governor of Nicosia, Saritz visited the Public Garden of Morphou, and he was impressed. In July of the same year, a summer center opened in the Garden, headed by Char. Tzioni:
“People are overwhelmed by this enchanting place, which is a wonderful and life-giving lung of our town and they breathe, live, rest, enjoy and drink.”
In modern times, the Public Garden was part of the afternoon walk of hundreds of Morphou inhabitants, and especially of young men and women, who had a wonderful opportunity for their innocent flirting. Towards the end of the 1960s, the main events of the Morphou Orange Festival took place in the Garden.
f) THE FRUIT GARDEN opposite Agios Mamas Monastery
As already mentioned, opposite St. Mama’s Monastery and east of the first school building erected, a nursery operated and developed for some years. It produced saplings and had beautiful flowers, which people of Morphou and visitors admired. Many people were walking along this kind of public garden. The first windmill with its tank was erected for the irrigation of the garden just next to the main road leading from the market to the police station and the post office. Unfortunately, in the mid-1910s, this garden was abandoned.
On 18.11.1922 there were some good news in the newspaper ELEFTHERIA. The newspaper informed the public that A. Panierotis, Metropolitan of Kyrenia Makarios, “began the construction of a fruit garden next to the Boys’ School of Morphou. A windmill is already being constructed for irrigation. Such promising projects are always valued by everyone. A. Panierotis, as we know, gave the schools water from the windmill.”
Some clarifications for the above information:
The school they refer to is our well-known Girls’ School, which then operated as a Boys’ school. The windmill is the second to be installed with its tank, about 100 meters north of the first and the fruit garden is the citrus garden with tangerines, oranges and vines, developed later next to the main road and adjacent to the school. In June 1923, on a visit to Morphou, the Governor of Nicosia, Saritz, among other things, visited and praised the brilliant new fruit garden of the Diocese of Kyrenia, which was the most beautiful part of Morphou.
Much later, citrus cultivation was greatly developed on the land of the Holy Diocese of Morphou, which was a major source of income for the Diocese. The elders remember that the well-known deacon Constantinos Kepetzis has been an excellent administrator of this property and a took care of the gardens.
LAND REGISTRY – POSTAL SERVICES – TELEPHONE
The old demand of Morphou residents for the creation and operation of a Land Registry for the Morphou-Lefka district was fulfilled and it has been in operation since 1899. Residents of the area were very pleased since they would no longer have to travel to the capital for transfers of property, acquisition of real estate and other issues, which cost them a lot of hassle and expense. A statement from Morphou refers to an appointed secretary of the Land Registry of Morphou, Mr Aim. Hourris “who, after a great deal of eagerness, executes all the cases submitted. Since he was appointed, everyone who went to the Land Registry of Morphou was every happy with the speedy completion of their cases. We always express our gratitude to the honourable Director of the Land Registry for the right choice he has made”.
(21 July 1903)
Regarding postal services, it seems that the town of Morphou had this facility towards the end of the 19th century, but not the inhabitants of the surrounding villages. That is why in 1897 the inhabitants of the villages of Zodias, Akaki, Astromeritis and Peristerona asked the Director of Postal Services to include their villages in the ” Rural Postal Service”.
Telephone services were certainly non-existent in Cyprus until the end of the 19th century, but it is worth noting that according to a report in the “Foni tis Kyprou” in 1894, someone called Stamatiadis from Samos made an offer to the Cyprus Government to take over the telephone interconnection of the cities of Cyprus. He had already done similar work in Samos and had relevant experience. But it seems that the effort has not worked.
DISTRICT CRIMINAL COURT
For the administration of justice there was a so-called Communal Court in Morphou, a very low-level body for the administration of justice. But the residents’ persistent request to set up and operate a Criminal Court in Morphou to examine more serious cases in the area was not heard. As early as 1885, it was announced that the government had terminated the judge of Morphou, P. Saripoglou (reasons not stated) and M. Karageorgiadis was appointed to his post. However, each visit by the Commissioner or the Governor of Nicosia raised the demand as it did in 1906, which means that up to that time the Morphou Criminal Court had not yet operated. However, on 27.6.1905, it had already been published, that “by decree of the Commissioner, from 1 August 1905 an additional court was established at Morphou and Lefka. Judges will be the judges of Morphou and Lefka and the hearings will take place in both towns”.
HEALTH – GOVERNMENT DOCTOR
The appointment of a government doctor in Morphou to visit the villages in the area, as was done in other districts, was also a strong demand of the residents, included among others in the memorandum during the Governor’s visit in 1906.
From a newspaper advertisement in July 1901, we are informed that the “ophthalmologist” Dim. Gazoulis examined patients in Morphou and was paid only after the patient’s recovery. For this reason, he did not accept ‘incurable cases’. In another follow-up advertisement, the same doctor informed that he could examine patients with any illness. As a payment, he demanded 1 shilling for each visit to his clinic and 2 shillings for a home visit.
An older statement from Morphou in “Foni tis Kyprou”, on 8.12.1891, reported that a foreign experienced doctor practiced his profession in the town of Morphou and its surroundings for about three years and “departed for his homeland by taking with him various furniture etc. and hundreds of pounds. Our town is already without doctor and this absence is very much felt. It would be of great benefit for the residents and for a good doctor himself to come here”.
Around 1905 there was a doctor working in Morphou called V. Koroneos, who came from Sparta and had married the daughter of Dr. Gazoulis, to whom we have referred above. In November 1907, Koroneos departed from Cyprus and the reporter noted: “The doctor leaves a vacant post, hard to fill, and we are deeply regretted but also happy because his new post is quite decent as well”.
However, a few months before he left, Koroneos helped a lot to have S. Thomaidis’ pharmacy in Kyrenia transferred to Morphou, to cure a severe shortage. That is why the reporter emphasized that this delightful event was “taken care of by our competent doctor, Mr V. Koroneos, nevertheless, the pharmacy was transferred to Morphou and thanks to his warm support, it is now working excellently”.
Unfortunately, however, after the doctor’s Koroneos departure, this pharmacy was no longer supported, so it returned to Kyrenia because of lack of work “as the only doctor Ierides unfortunately did not wish to cooperate with the pharmacy”.
The reporter regrets the fact and stresses the need to secure a new pharmacy. (1.2.1908)
In mid-1907, the qualified midwife Marina Pipinou settled in Morphou “with her generous daughter Kassandra”. Pipinou had previously practiced her profession in Limassol. The event delighted and greatly comforted the pregnant women in the area.
Government doctor in Morphou, terrifying meningitis epidemic
With the efforts and petitions of the residents of Morphou to appoint a government doctor in Morphou and with the intense actions of Mayor of Morphou, the transfer of the rural doctor N. Mikelides from Myrtou to Morphou was achieved “because the Morphou district had about 15 thousand residents and for more than five months they did not have appropriate medical care, resulting in an outbreak of consecutive deaths”.
At the beginning of 1909, a meningitis epidemic broke out in Cyprus, but it reached a large extent in Morphou, as shown by relevant press releases:
“Almost all of the island is truly infected with meningitis, but the most affected region was Morphou and its district. Many young and old and teenagers and infants and toddlers have died.”
With the efforts of Mayor Morphou Kostis Georgiades, a second government doctor was appointed to help the situation. This is how we read in Morphou’s statements that “our best rural physician, Mr. N. Mikelides and his active assistant, Mr. A. Francis, together with one of the best pharmacists Mr. Evagora, are coming to the aid of all residents”. And in another statement it is noted that “the capable Mayor K. Georgiadis, who loved the town, as well as his wise and experienced right hand advisor Mr. I. Kyriakidis, muhtar, do their duty with kindness in this critical moment, fighting in favor of the health of this beloved town”.
During his visit to Morphou, the Governor of Nicosia, Mr. Cade, “visited the patients of the town with the Mayor and our rural doctor and received various opinions”. However, some articles in the newspapers strongly criticize the government for failing to take appropriate and effective measures to combat the disease, such as: the creation of appropriate isolates for patients and the use of a suitable place as a hospital in Morphou, which numbered more than 3,000 residents. The isolation of the patients in their own houses, the related disinfections and other temporary measures were not effective, and “no disinfectant is given to residents in the streets, manure and house of uninfected persons” who are at risk of contracting the disease at any time. It was also suggested to supply anti-meningitis serum from France, a recent invention, which had great therapeutic potential.
Schools were closed for 3 consecutive months for the protection of young pupils during the first half of 1909. Government official figures spoke of 70 deaths from the disease, but other information raised the death toll to over 100. The atmosphere created in the town by the grieving and dressed in black relatives was very heavy. “Easter passed without celebrations, given the unfortunate epidemic of meningitis, who brought death to so many people”.
Arboretum in Morphou
After the Greek Director for Agriculture, Gennadios, who worked in Cyprus in the late 19th century and brought real change in agriculture, D. Sarakomenos, also from Greece, who appeared in 1905 as the Director of Agriculture, successfully continued Gennadios’ work. He made some modifications to the iron plow to adapt to the Cypriot conditions and imported mowers and throwers. In June 1907 Sarakomenos visited Morphou and announced that it had been finally decided to set up and operate a suitable “arboretum mostly consisting of fruit trees”.
Soon the “arboretum” became a reality and operated in the fields of the Holy Monastery of St. Mamas, kindly and willingly granted by the Metropolitan of Kyrenia. In July 1907 the windmill of the arboretum arrived and came into operation (it would certainly be one of the two operating windmills in the orchard of the Diocese, near St. Mamas Monastery, as adult Morphou residents will remember).
The Greek Director of Agriculture regularly visited Morphou and the arboretum, which he took care of as a very useful and beneficial creation. Someone called Frangos had been appointed as the manager of the arboretum and had worked diligently, and had excellent results. During one of his visits, Sarakomenos gathered the farmers of the Morphou area to whom he demonstrated the use of the iron plow, and convinced them of the advantages of using it.
On another visit in April 1908 he called women, who bred silkworms “in the large hall of the school and talked to them for more than an hour, in a language sufficiently intelligible, about this golden caterpillar and its origin”.
From various other information it seems that sericulture was greatly developed in Morphou and the area and silk farmers were coming to Morphou for the extraction of silk from cotton. With this silk, women of the area woven silk fabrics into the traditional silk-weaving machines they kept in their homes. Whatever was left, they were selling it.
In April 1911, D. Sarakomenos was forced to resign after he travelled to Europe for treatment due to eye disease, where his doctors recommended that he abstained from any office work. His annual salary was very high for the time, amounting to £472.
The Crops Warehouse for the tithes
In May 1907 it is stated that “as far as the Morphou Railway Station is concerned, crops warehouses will be constructed”.
About two months later, the warehouses consisting of 5 spacious rooms were completed and were “gate-wide open to the loads of tithes”. (22.6.1907).
Within a month, it was published that the warehouses were filled by the tithes from Morphou and its surroundings. The products were transported by rail to Nicosia, which was a great convenience. The older ones will remember that the warehouses were located between the first cemetery of our town and the stone-built buildings of the railway station. The road to Argaki and Katokopia and the train lines to Nicosia and the Solea region passed through the warehouses and the station buildings. The students in the first class of High School of Morphou of 1960, 61, 62 will still remember that they were having the first lessons inside these warehouses, which were transformed into classrooms, since there was no other place in the first building of the High School. They had lessons there until the second High School building wa
EDUCATION AND SCHOOLS
General view of developments in educational affairs in Cyprus immediately after independence
According to the established constitution of the newly formed Cypriot state, the responsibility for educational issues of the two communities, Greek and Turkish, was taken over by community assemblies (Parliaments). Thus, the Greek Community Assembly, with elected community members, took responsibility for the education of Greek Cypriots. It appointed an Educational Council for the day-to-day management of education problems. Dr. Konstantinos Spyridakis, head of the Pancyprian High School, was elected president of both bodies. The executives of the then Education Office were given the opportunity to leave with relevant compensations due to loss of career. This was done only by the British senior officials. Greek Cypriot inspectors and others preferred to continue their careers. The Education Office was staffed with notable teachers of the time in the various positions of Director of Education, Heads of Primary, Secondary, Technical Education, etc. The responsibility for staffing the Schools of Secondary and Technical Education was removed from the jurisdiction of the School Board and was given to the officials of the Education Office. In other words, the system of appointments and transfers from the Center was applied here as well, a system that has always been followed in Primary Education during the British occupation.
The presidents and members of the School Boards were also appointed by the President of the Republic. In our town, after the voluntary resignation of the hitherto elected president of the School Board, lawyer Christodoulos Pyrgou, Dr. Polykleitos Iakovidis was appointed in his place. The School Board also took over the responsibility of Primary Education, which until independence was held by the Mayor and the Municipal Council.
EDUCATION and SCHOOLS in Morphou after 1960
In 1960, the three Primary Schools, Boys ‘and Girls’ Schools, the Lower Mixed School (1st and 2nd grades of Primary School), the Morphou High School and the Costas Silvestros Private Commercial School operated in our city. Next to the Teacher Training College of Morphou was the two-class Agricultural School, which from 1959 became a three-class school, and while until then it was a government school, it was handed over to the jurisdiction of the Morphou School Board.
In the following we will briefly examine what the development of our schools until the day of the Turkish invasion.
- The Greek High School of Morphou
In September 1959, the philologist Dr Athanasios Meremetis, who had worked for many years before at the Pancyprian High School was appointed as High School Principal. The number of students had exceeded 1,000, while the number of classrooms in the building was insufficient. Shacks were erected in the northern courtyard and even old railway warehouses were used as classrooms for the first seven classes of 1st Grade. The staff of the School included about 10 teachers of various specialties from Greece. The School Board proceeded with the construction of a new school building, to fulfil both the then housing needs and the future ones. Work began on the site to the northeastern side of the old building and was completed in 1962 with a completely new building. In the two buildings, old and new, about 10 more rooms were added in the following years to meet the needs.
In 1961-63, Nikolaos Pizanias, a Greek teacher from Greece, transferred from Lapithos High School, took over the management of the High School. The number of students was increasing to 1,500. In 1963, after the retirement of Mr. Pizanias, the Greek teacher Christos Petrondas was appointed as High School Principal, who managed a huge school, with a distinguished staff of teachers from Morphou, the area and elsewhere. In 1967, the School was first divided into Boys’ and Girls’ schools, with principals Christos Petrondas and G. Mourouzis, respectively. In 1968 the final separation took place in two mixed High Schools, A ‘and B’. High School A’ with Mr. Petrondas as Principal used the new building and High School B’ with the Greek teacher George Giannakas (1968-73) as Principal. Mr. Petrondas was succeeded in the management of the High School A’ by Konstantinos Karagiannis, Greek teacher (1969 – 71) and Gabriel Minas, also Greek teacher (1971 – 74), who was the last before the Turkish invasion. The last Principal of the High School B’ was the Greek teacher Konstantinos Giallouridis (1973-74).
- Private School of Commerce K. Silvestrou – Public Commercial Vocational School – Morphou High School C’
The late Costas Silvestros was a distinguished man and a very good English teacher. From 1934 he founded a private secondary school in Morphou that took various forms depending on the conditions of each era. The purpose was to help young people to develop a professional career. In the beginning, emphasis was placed on the commercial training of students by teaching commercial courses in parallel with English. In 1960, the owner handed over the School without compensation to the Greek Community Assembly, something which other school owners also did at the time, in return for related compensation (Neokleous High School, Samouil School, etc.).
During the school year 1961-62, the School functioned as a branch of the Morphou High School, under the responsibility of the professor of commerce of the Georgios Lambridis School. In September 1962, it became part of the Technical Education Department and became independent, under the name of Morphou Vocational Public School of Commerce. It was a five-room building with around 100 students and operated in a rented large house with a satisfactory courtyard on the north side of town.
The English teacher Nikos Tziarris was appointed as Principal of the School. Initially, the teaching of commercial subjects was introduced in the small classes, such as Accounting and Commercial elements in the 2nd grade. Sales Technique, stenography, typing, etc. were also taught in higher classes. However, someone to be appointed in the government, needed a six class high school diploma, which was an obstacle to the development of the School in terms of the number of students and even good students. That is why after 1967 a sixth class was added, optional at the beginning and then compulsory. Since then, the number of students has begun to rise sharply, making it imperative to build a school building to house them. Indeed, when their number reached 400, construction began on a site given by the Holy Diocese north of the town and Serrachis River.
During the school year 1970-71, the School was housed in its own building and a grand opening celebration took place. Since then, the School has taken its normal form, i.e. the first 3 classes were general high school classes and the last 3, had exclusively commercial direction. During the school year 1972-73, it was renamed the Morphou High School C’.
Nikos Tziarris headed the School for 9 consecutive years (1962 – 71) with skill, great enthusiasm and interest. The progress and development of the school was due to its own leadership but also to the close cooperation and hard work of a group of teachers, who were by his side all these years. Successive Principals were Panagiotis Konstantinidis, English teacher (1971-72), Konstantinos Giallouridis, Greek teacher (1972-73) and Christos Artemiou, Commerce teacher (1973-74).
- Central Agricultural School – Morphou Agricultural High School
The Central Agricultural School was founded in 1940 as a two-class school and was housed in government premises, a few meters north of the buildings of the Morphou Teacher Training College. It was purely a government institution with no connection to the educational authorities of Morphou. This was attended by children of farmers after primary school, from all over Cyprus. Its main purpose was the agricultural training of children with practical application in the surrounding government fields. In 1958 a third class was added, starting with the first as a high school class. The following year, the School was taken over by the Greek Community Assembly and handed over to the jurisdiction of the Morphou School Board. Thus the School developed and was renamed to Agricultural High School of Morphou. The first 3 classes were general high school classes and the last 3 had agricultural direction.
It was basically a High School with science-based courses, with additional agricultural courses taught by agronomists. It was the only one in Cyprus, that is why students from all over Cyprus attended it.
In 1962, a building was completed, which was built by the Greek Government. Since the Teacher Training College had already been transferred to Nicosia as the Cyprus Pedagogical Academy, the Agricultural High School used its premises for boarding schools, kitchens, etc.
The first School Principal was the then Principal of the Agricultural School, Michalis Papaneofytou (1958 – 62) and he was succeeded by Andreas Gabriel, English teacher (1962 – 64), Kipros Savva, chemistry teacher (1964 – 69), Konstantinos Giallouridis, Greek teacher ( 1969 – 72), Sophocles Lazarou, Greek teacher (1972 – 73) and Charalambos Elia, chemistry teacher (1973 – 74).
After the Turkish invasion, the school continued to operate for a few more years as such, on premises of the Seminary School in Nicosia.
- Primary Schools
Towards the end of the 1950s, the housing needs of primary education demanded the construction of a new school building in the courtyard of the Girls’ School. A third primary school was housed there, with boys and girls of the first two grades, called the Lower Mixed School, with Savvas Sarantis as its first Principal, who was succeeded by Elenitsa Eleftheriou, followed by Andreas Leventis (1968-74), who was also the last one. The two traditional schools, the Boys’ School and the Girls’ School, operated until 1968, with the 4 upper classes. From that year, they were also mixed and operated as A’ and B’ Primary Schools
The Boys’ – A’ Primary School was headed in order by: Andreas Zachariadis (1960 – 64), Nikos Kyrkos (1964 – 65), Kypros Mylonas (1965-68) and Michalis Efstathiou (1968 – 74). The Girls’ School – B’ Primary School was headed by Elpiniki Papadopoulou (until 1963), Ioulia Charalambous (1964 – 68) and Andreas Savvidis (1968 – 1974).
Building needs for basic education demanded another building to be erected in the early 1970s. The new building was set up for operation east of Morphou, near the old train station. It was to open its doors as a D’ Primary School in September 1974.
A public kindergarten operated in our town, housed in suitable private houses. Its principals were Chrysoula Fournou – Symeou and Maro Kei. There were also two private kindergartens, the one of Meropi Christou – Papadopoulou and the one of Christa Peletie and Emilia Papadimitriou.