The Xlendi Underground Flour Mill officially inaugurated today
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The Underground Emergency Flour Mill restoration project, was officially inaugurated today, the work was carried out by the Munxar Local Council.
Present for the occasion was Dr. Christian Zammit, in the absence of the Minister for Gozo Dr. Anton Refalo. Dr Zammit said that that on a small island such as Gozo, it is difficult to find a corner, which is not endowed with history or legends. This makes it difficult to maintain a perfect and intact heritage, because the of high preservation costs.
Just over 50 years ago, with the Cold War escalating, it became evident that nuclear conflict in Europe was a possibility. In the event of the lines of communication being cut, the British Colonial Office took a decision to build several underground flour mills in the Maltese islands, which would give the local population at least a staple diet of bread, should other sources of food be denied to them. Of the eight underground mills built, only one was located on Gozo, in the village of Xlendi.
During the years 1954/1955, the Xlendi mill was excavated into the cliffs, situated behind the Mount Carmel church. The excavation was a huge undertaking, which consisted firstly of an entrance tunnel, some 30 meters long, 2.5 meters high and 3 meters wide, leading into a large chamber. This chamber was divided into three floors and housed the storage, grinding and milling equipment.
At the rear of the mill is the silo, having a storage capacity of approximately 1,000 tons of wheat, and connected to the milling machinery by mechanical augers. An 80hp diesel engine and alternator supplied power. Entrances from above can also access the silo.
This was one of 8 emergency mills which cost the Colonial Government at the time, a quarter of a million pounds – a phenomenal sum in those days.
Dr Zammit praised the initiative of the Munxar Local Council, who had obtained funds from measure 313 and 323 of the European Union as well as by Environment Initiatives Partnership Programme (EIPP) – MEPA, to restore this emergency mill The Ministry for Gozo also helped by providing workers experienced in restoration work.
Christian Zammit congratulated the Munxar Local Council and the workers who were involved in this project.