Limassol and shipbuilding

Limassol appears to have had a stronger relationship with the sea compared to other towns: Limassolians owned merchant vessels travelling to Egypt and Syria, local steam companies were founded in 1899 and 1905, and operated alongside agencies of foreign steam companies. We know of at least one more shipbuilding family tracing its roots at Limassol in the 1870s, the Parpour, who moved first to Lebanon and since 1958 operate at Paphos. The historical data, the family lore and the current craft practitioners all indicate that vernacular shipbuilding has a lifespan of more than 200 years at this southern coastal town.

The coastal landscape of Limassol began changing progressively during the British Colonial Rule. The construction of an iron pier and a customs office by the end of 1881, was followed by a series of improvement works in 1910. The pier was extended in the late 1920s and the first shipyard began operating in 1922 at the old harbour area. The harbour works resulted in the first relocation of the carnayo, from the old harbour to the beach in front of the municipal zoo, in the 1950s. This relocation is commemorated in early 20th century newspapers. The urban development of the 1960s, resulted in a second and final relocation of the carnayo, between the old and new harbour.

In the post-1974 war era, Limassol expanded further: the newly constructed port and adjacent industrial zone gave the coastal strip its current characteristics. The carnayo has influenced the coastal landscape between the old and new port: the establishment of a shipyard is directly related to the local topography, taking advantage of inclined, sheltered areas to facilitate the daily repair works and pulling the vessels out of the water. The shipbuilders had backfilled parts of the coast to meet those specific criteria, influencing the landscape of the western edge of Limassol. Considering all the above, the shipbuilding community had a central role in certain aspects of Limassol’s development: the early 20th century seaborne trade would have faced difficulties without the local shipyard, and subsequently affect the financial growth of local traders depending on it. Moreover, shipbuilding influenced the landscape itself, particularly after the 1960s and the final relocation of the carnayo.

Author: Maria Ktori

Image: courtesy of Pattichion Historical Archive and Municipal Museum Limassol