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Strait Street: Valletta’s cash cow which has run dry

One of the best known streets on this island is undoubtedly Strait Street in Valletta, popularly known as Strada Stretta.

It is a street which also sticks like a fossilised icon in the collective memory of most members of the British forces and other navies who spent time at 'The Gut' as they called it. Alas the street is now deserted.

Strada Stretta: It-Triq li xegħlet il-Belt – Strait Street: The street that once breath life into Valletta written by George Cini was launched today.

The book is the first of its kind as it provides a history of this infamous street through a series of interviews with some of the most colourful protagonists who worked or knew this street well.

Strait Street was but an alley that was full to the brim with bars, music halls, restaurants and lodging houses.

Wine, women and song were the ingredients that made for such an allure. The fascination was akin to that of mythical sirens that tempted weary mariners.

Prior to the Second World War, the street was alive with the sound of swing. Smartly dressed musicians won their stripes down The Gut as they accompanied showgirls and other entertainers brought over from England, the US and Hungary among other places.

The amount of money that was made in Strait Street was beyond comprehension when one considers how poor people were at the time.

“For example, not taking tips into account, musicians earned £7 a week when the average weekly wage of a civil servant was about £1.10s. Through the use of tokens, barmaids made loads of cash for the drinks they ordered on their own behalf and on behalf of clients.

“It was the type of alley one visited to seek vices of all kinds,” George Cini, author of Strada Stretta said.

The book includes newly published photographs and vivid watercolours by Paul Caruana that spice the stories by some of the key players of Strait Street of yore.

Strada Stretta: It-Triq li darba xegħlet il-Belt was designed by MediaMaker Ltd and printed at Progress Press by Allied Publications.

The book can be bought online by going to www.timesofmalta.com by clicking on Books.

For further details contact George Cini on 9943 0578. Email: [email protected]

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