PRESS RELEASE BY THE PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARIAT FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT: Protecting our Heritage – Six new restoration projects in six localities announced

As part of various initiatives being undertaken by Government to protect the country’s heritage, six restoration projects are being implemented in different localities. These projects consist of the restoration of various niches, arches, and churches. All of these have great historical value, and are an integral part of our historical heritage.

In a press conference held under the Hompesch Arch, Parliamentary Secretary for Local Government Stefan Buontempo announced that Government, with the support of the Department for Local Government, and in conjunction with the Department of Restoration, have launched a scheme with the aim of assisting Local Councils in the restoration of unique and historical heritage sites within their localities. For the first phase of this project, six projects were selected, which will entail the restoration of various works of art to their original state. The restoration includes interventions as part of a conservation programme.

Parliamentary Secretary Buontempo further stated that restoration would commence in the coming weeks, following the processing of permits for works from the Planning Authority, which are currently being processed. The restoration works will be done by the Department for Restoration. It is intended that works will commence in September and be finished within the next few months.

“With this restoration scheme, we will be promoting and showcasing the historical and architectural heritage of our country in the best way possible, and further raise the Maltese heritage value”, stated Buontempo.

Erected in 1801 in ?abbar, the Hompesch Arch was built on the initiative of the people of ?abbar, in Grandmaster Ferdinand von Hompesch’s honour, for having proclaimed ?abbar as a town. The arch will be restored to its former glory.

In ?ejtun, restoration works will take place on the niche of St Joseph, which was most likely built in the late eighteenth century. The statue of St. Joseph holding baby Jesus will be cleaned of rusty iron pipes, which are causing severe damages to the stone. Consequently, once this process is finished, the old paint will be stripped away, and the necessary strengthening of various parts of the same niche will be effected.

A niche containing the statue of St. Michael Archangel with a cross over it, built over two floors in ?urrieq, will also be restored. The Baroque style of this statue dates back to the eighteenth century and it is endowed with beautiful wings, a helmet, and armour, all carved in stone by hand.

Intensive restoration works will be done on two old churches, that of St. Anne in Marsaskala, and that of St. Anthony and St. Catherine in Birkirkara. Both churches used to serve as the Parish churches of their respective localities. Presently, they require major restoration interventions to repair parts of them where the stone has eroded due to the natural elements. These damages pose a risk to the structural strength of these churches.

Parliamentary Secretary Stefan Buontempo also stated that works will commence on the Bridge of Prince of Wales in Sliema. This also requires urgent restoration work. This bridge was built in the nineteenth century and inaugurated in 1862. It is a uniquely-engineered piece of work, and a wonderful structure built in Maltese stone, which was erected to link parts of Balluta and Sliema. Parliamentary Secretary Buontempo stressed that these restoration projects have been planned carefully under the supervision of architects within the Department for Restoration. The latter will be monitoring all the works closely, so as to guarantee nothing less than restoration works of the best quality, with a view to preserve this heritage in the best way possible for future generations to enjoy.

The mayors of the localities in which the restoration works will be carried out all attended this press conference. They stressed the importance of the historical heritage in their localities, and the need for such projects so that these precious heritage sites can be preserved and protected in the best way possible.

Source: Government of Malta