Qala Mayor visits ongoing restoration work at St Anthony’s Battery

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Qala Mayor visits ongoing restoration work at St Anthony’s BatteryThe Qala Mayor Clint Camilleri, recently visited the reconstruction and restoration being undertaken by Din L-Art Helwa at St Anthony’s battery, known locally as it-Trunciera.

Work commenced in 2007, when Din l-Art Helwa and the Qala Local Council signed a co-operation agreement for the work to be carried out on the battery. The project was entrusted to DLH by MEPA and is being co funded by Din L-Art Helwa, the Qala Local Council and MEPA’s Environmental Fund.

St Anthony’s Battery is an early 18th century military outpost designed to serve as a gun battery for the defence of the coast and the channel between Gozo and Comino.

The upright masonry is finished and has been built with much of the original old stone found on the site. The imposing woodwork on the battery is now also complete.

Above the main gate of the battery, were carved two shields, one had the Cross of the Order whereas the other had Vilhena’s Coat of Arms.

Master Mason, Leli Bufajra, worked through many months to carve the missing coat-of-arms that once adorned the entrance to the Fortizza ta’ Sant Antnin.

A 2 metre block of hard stone was chosen specially from a Gozo quarry for the coat-of-arms of Grand Master de Vilhena and the Cross of the Order of St John, together with an inscription by the Governor of Gozo which reads: ‘Nel Governo del Cav Fra Paulo Antonio de Viguier, 1732.’ This important decorative dedication over the Battery entrance was replaced in 2012.

The coastal battery of Sant Antnin, as it is locally known, had suffered the ravages of time and vandalism and was almost reduced to mere rubble had Din l-Art Helwa not intervened to save it. Its strong hardstone has been misappropriated to neighbouring farmsteads over the years. Many of the remaining walls had fallen victim to the elements.

The battery stands isolated in the remotest point of Qala guarding the straits between Gozo and Comino permitting limited and difficult accessibility to even the most dauntless volunteer.

It was built during the reign of Grand Master Manoel de Vilhena and is one of the only two coastal batteries built by the Order of St. John to have survived in Gozo, the other being at Il-Qbajjar, outside Marsalforn.

Designed on a regular plan with five faces of embrasures for eleven guns and with ancillary accommodation inside the battery it has a gorge wall with a projecting tenaille all pierced with musketry loopholes.

Sant Antnin.was probably designed by the French military engineer Charles Francois Mondion in 1731/2. The Battery retains its original relationship with the surrounding landscape and seascape as these have remained practically unchanged since 1731.

St. Anthony’s Battery is regarded as a National Heritage in architecture which is somewhat unique to the islands. The work was originally designed with a semi-circular gun platform and two blockhouses at the rear, however, it was eventually built with a semi-hexagonal front. Consequently the landward defences incorporated a free-standing redan trace with thick walls and numerous musketry loopholes, which were shielded by two flanking traverses. The land front itself was protected by a shallow ditch.

A solid blockhouse with battered walls occupied the centre of the enclosure. In 1770, St. Anthony’s Battery had an armament of three 8-pdr guns with 427 rounds of roundshot and 75 rounds of grapeshot; and eight 6-pdr guns with 127 rounds of roundshot and 45 rounds of grapeshot.

Photographs – Qala Local Council and DLH

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    7 Responses

    1. James A. Tyrrell says:

      Isn’t this visit by the Mayor just a vote catching exercise because of the up-coming EU elections? I mean wasn’t all the work concerning this restoration put in place by the previous PN Mayor?

      • james barther says:

        I have no doubt that this visit is done as a propoganda for Clint since he is a Labour Party Candidate To become an MEP!

    2. Joseph Buttigieg says:

      Contrary, I think it shows maturity that this council carried on an unfinished work. Moreover, the council aquired a further 7,500 euros as additional funds for the battery’s pointing. Let us not put politics also in such magnificent projects! Well done to the mayor and all the council!

      • Anthoney says:

        @Joseph The only unfinished work is the pointing of all that was done years back with hard work from the previous council . We should also thank the previous council for overcoming big hurdles in due coarse.. Maturity meant that this battery should have been finished few months after this current council was elected but for a reason that everyone can guess it was dragged for the right time that suits the mayor..

      • Carl says:

        And now it seems the square is going to be ‘prettified’ just in time for the next elections!! As Anthoney said, if this was so important why didn’t the mayor do it sooner in his tenure to show how good he is, or is he afraid the people of Qala would have forgotten by the time the elections arrive next year! And does the square really need to be tiled, when the roads and drainage are in such poor condition (but guess drains are not very visable, and only a handful of voters have to suffer with there homes being flooded year in, year out).

    3. Godwin Darmanin says:

      After all ,dear friends, what counts is the preservation of this gem. Let’s leave blue and red aside, and think about the many historical features across Gozo.

    4. Clive Saliba says:

      @James Tyrell Should the Mayor left it unfinished, you would have said that he was negligent and careless. Now that he is completing it, from 2007 (7 years ago – he was elected mayor in 2012), you are saying that this is vote catching. What we should say is that you are nothing more than a ‘foreigner’ who came to our island, not knowing how to while away your time and stay picking on people, thinking that you are that kind of guy who knows everything and that people should bow their head whenever they meet you, with everybody around you ignoring you all the time!

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