Greek industry in the modern sense of the term can be discussed after the second half of the 19th century. Naoussa has a rich past of developed handcrafts and small industry from the period before the Revolution and the town’s destruction in 1822. Most significant industry areas were gunsmiths, silversmiths, knife-makers, dyers, etc. but above all textiles (woolen materials, “sagiaka”, silks and linen and mostly face towels). These activities allowed the city people to accumulate wealth and helped the development of commerce. Handcrafted products were sold by local merchants not only within the Empire, but also abroad (Vienna, Budapest, Moscow, Odessa, Germany, etc.), where they had correspondents.
After the destruction of the city by the Turks, these activities soon resurfaced. In 1874-1875 the first “major” industry for cotton processing is established, with machinery originating from Europe and imported by liberated Greece. This is the “Loggos–Kirtsis – Tourpalis” factory, which constitutes the first industry, in the contemporary sense of the term, created in Macedonia and perhaps in the whole Balkan region. Up to that time, the waters of the Arapitsa River -which spring from the Agios Nicholaos area, crossing Naoussa and subsequently irrigating the plain- were used only to irrigate cultivated land and to operate watermills and water-presses inside the town. The waters of the Arapitsa were called “White Coal” and the industrial city of Naoussa “Manchester of the Balkans”.
In the early 20th century, four large flourmills with European machinery and another 26 smaller ones were in operation. Sawmills, a tannery, sesame oil presses, a silk mill, a rice refinery and a pottery were also in operation. For the exploitation of the mountain’s rich forest resources, special installations for the processing of lumber were created on the spot from 1913-1921, including sawmills, a local train network of the Decoville type and an elevated transport system for the transfer of processed lumber to the plain. Many buildings belonging to this cosmogony are today preserved at Naoussa.
The First Large Factories
The cotton spinning mill of Loggos-Kirtsis and Tourpalis Company commences operations in 1874. E. Stougiannakis notes that this factory “... was useful as an Academy of Industry, at which many engineers, specialized labourers, etc. were educated... ’’.Today, owned by the Municipality of Naoussa, it houses the Visual Arts Workshops of the Cultural Organisation and the Technology Management Department of the University of Macedonia.
By the time of Naoussa’s liberation in 1912, two more cotton spinning mills (Bilis–Tsitsis and Co. in 1891 and Goutas and Karatzias in 1890/1903) and two fleece factories, (“ERIA”, in 1907 and Lanaras and Pehlivanos in 1909) were founded and operated having as their object the complete processing of fleece and the manufacture of woolen material, which was used mainly for the needs of the army (khaki), initially of the Turkish one and subsequently of the Greek army.
“Despite the misfortune of Turkish rule...”, Dimitris Xatzopoulos mentions, “in C. Macedonia a small but flourishing industrial effort had been created, which was founded by entrepreneurs from the good-peopled city of Naoussa with its pure Greek population. They first were inspired in using the famous waterfalls of the Vermio rainfalls as a driving force... As Konstantinos Galatis also describes in his relevant study of 1932, “the residents of Naoussa are perhaps the most compact industrial population of Greece. They created the industries of Edessa and Veroia, which depend on the hydraulic power of the Vodas and Tripotamos Rivers...”.
Most of the industrial facilities above mentioned were characteristically built on the banks of the Arapitsa River, from which by independent consecutive dams, the quantities of water required to provide motion to their hydro-turbines were pumped. These waters would return to their natural recipient after their use, and would be used to provide motion for the remaining factories towards the river’s end.
Industry in between World Wars
After the Balkan and 1st World Wars, the Gregoris Tsitsis and Co. company’s industrial complex commences operations. Today, on the same grounds, a unit of the Varvaresos – European Spinning Mills Company, with new buildings and equipment, is in operation.
A new series of large factories are established in Naoussa, mainly connected to the Lanaras family (Lanaras-Goutas company factory in 1921, Lanaras-Kirtsis and Co. Fleece Factory in 1922, Pennier Wool Weaving Mill of Christos Lanaras Bros in 1928, Kokkinos–Tourpalis–Pliatsoukas Canvas Company in 1929). In 1932, the Lanaras family expand their business activities to Athens, establishing new factories there, also, which they staff with workers from Naoussa.
(Source: A. Oikonomou, Naoussa. The place, the past and the present... Naoussa, 2005)