The International Steam Pages


Cyprus Railways 2006

James Waite updates the article by Hugh Ballantyne, click here for the original. For James' pictures, click here: There is also a 2011 update available,


James Waite sent this March 2009 update:

"The copper mining yard at Gemikonagi where the Baldwin 0-8-2T and numerous petrol and diesel locos are mouldering away has now been fenced in with security gates and a guard who won't allow access. There are hoardings around the site saying that decontamination work is in progress which must be a massive task. Local rumour is that a museum of the copper industry will be set up on some of the land and that all the locos will find a home there but I guess this will be a long way off."


Xeros is indeed a remarkable place. The whole site is probably the best part of a mile long, stretching back from the coast road running westwards from Guzelyurt (Morphou) towards the border with Greek Cyprus. Its at the eastern end of a largish village named (and signposted) Gemikonagi in Turkish - I don't know its Greek name. It's quite well disguised - all that is visible from the road is a high embankment with a couple of hopper wagons standing on it and a long, barren stretch beyond them with, on the seaward side of the road, the "CMC Bar", the old steam tug which Hugh mentions and an old jetty from which ore was shipped - now with its centre portion washed away leaving the rails dangling in a surreal fashion over the sea. 

There's really very little to hint of what lies out of view - in fact the first time we drove along the coast road in 2002 we stopped for a photo of the hopper wagons from the road but didn't see any point in venturing in. The western side of the yard is bounded for its entire length by a large army camp, originally built by the Brits and occupied by the Gordon Highlanders in the 1950's. It's a typical British army affair. Since 1963 it has been used as one of the principal bases for the UN peace keeping forces in Cyprus and for the past years it's been occupied by the Argentine army. The soldiers seem to keep a low profile and I've never had any difficulty in taking photos there even though several of the locos are close to the army fence. In fact I think the only time I've ever seen the Argies was one time when one of their armoured vehicles had collided with a Turkish army truck in the centre of Gemokonagi and an impassioned argument was in full swing as we drove past!

There's a tarmac roadway running into the site for a few hundred yards. The turning is almost immediately opposite the bar. There's a small car park at the far end of the road from where you can a fairly modern Plymouth 0-6-0 diesel with a long train of hopper wagons, its wheels buried in the sand/dust/spoil. There are also three other decently sized diesels once used for line work and, now, six much smaller 0-4-0 petrol or diesel tractors (so called), all built by Vulcan Iron Works at Wilkes Barre. No. 1, the oldest of them, dates from as long ago as 1923 (works no. 3371). No. 8, the newest, dates from 1948. There used to be eight tractors but two of them have left the yard for preservation. No. 7 was moved to a site alongside the main Lefkosa (Nicosia) to Girne (Kyrenia) road (a new, fast dual carriageway built at the expense of the Saudi government) in 2004 and no. 4 at the entrance to Lefke, a sizeable town close to the CMC yard. Confusingly the petrol tractors and the steam locos/line diesels are numbered in separate series so there's some duplication.

The Baldwin 0-8-2T no. 4 (Baldwin works no. 60344 of 1927) lives right at the far (southern) end of the yard, tucked away under a spoil heap and not properly visible even from the car park. It's a huge loco. Apparently it was withdrawn well before the mines closed in 1974 and has stood in its present position at least since 1970. The first time I was there in 2003 everything was eerily silent, a silence which was only broken by the gradual tinkling of bells as a local shepherd drove his goats across the yard. They seemed to sum the place up!

The CMC bar is easily recognised not only by its sign but by the large British coat of arms mounted over the front door. It's run by an elderly gentleman called Cemal who used to work in the mines, emigrated to Australia when the mines closed as a result of the partition of Cyprus in 1974 and only returned a few years ago to look after his ailing mother. He's a delightful person with many tales of life in the mines. He also cooks the best fish and chips I've ever tasted outside the UK! The place is a sort of unofficial museum of the CMC with numerous mining artifacts including the works plates of tractor no. 1 and one of the Plymouth diesels. The bar itself is built from pyrites from the mines. There's a short length of track alongside the bar leading onto the jetty and the tug is moored immediately outside. 

The two other locos are both preserved. CMC 2-8-2ST no. 3 (Baldwin works no. 57790 of 1924) which Hugh mentions lives amongst the trees at the top of a hill on the eastern side of the coast road to Girne (Kyrenia) about one mile north of Guzelyurt (Morphou). There's a turning to a fruit canning factory alongside it. CGR no. 1 (Hunslet works no. 846 of 1904) lives on a plinth outside the old Famagusta station which now serves as the Land Registry. The road leading to it runs south eastwards from the roundabout at the Land Gate, the main entrance to the old walled city and is easy to find. The station is about 200 metres on the left hand side.

It's worth mentioning that Evrykhou station, immediately to the south of the mines on the southern side of the border is now being restored as a railway museum. It's only about 4 miles from Xeros as the crow flies but a very long road journey. The nearest border crossing is at Bostanci, about seven or eight miles south east of Guzelyurt and it's a roundabout route from there to Evrykhou.


James has sent the following pictures:

0-8-2T no. 4 at Xeros (17 August 2003)

0-8-2T no. 4 at Xeros (30 March 2006)

Steam tug "Tid" at Xeros (17 August 2003)

The CMC jetty at Xeros. Note the anglers at the end of the pier - a position accessible only via the dangling rails or the remains of the conveyor!

2-8-2ST no. 3 at Guzelyurt (Morphou) 30 March 2006

CGR 0-6-0T no 1 at Famagusta station.


Rob Dickinson

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