It has been nearly 90 years since the last train pulled up at the Ħamrun Station but visitors over the weekend were given a glimpse of those long-gone days at an exhibition of the island’s railway history.

The Malta Railway Foundation’s annual exhibition – Destination Ħamrun – included models of the old stations at Mtarfa, Attard and Birkirkara, the engines that once linked them and models of steam engines.

Also on display was a working model showing the heyday of the same complex in which the exhibition was held – now the headquarters of the 1st Ħamrun Scout Group – including the station, workshops, sheds and the station master’s residence, which later became the first trade school in Malta.

Chance to keep alive fading memory of the old railway system

Visitors could also see unique historical artefacts like original train tickets and maps showing routes and proposed extensions, as well as paintings and colourised photos of the railway – and the tram system that ran in parallel for some time – at its prime.

Foundation chairman Paul Galea said the exhibition was a chance to keep alive the fading memory of the old railway system, which ran for nearly 50 years between 1883 and 1931 before being supplanted by the popularity and commercial viability of the new bus service.

Apart from the exhibition, the foundation is working with the Birkirkara local council on the restoration of the only surviving train carriage and with the Floriana council on plans to one day open the railway tunnels to the public.

It is also preparing an educational campaign for schoolchildren, in the hope of passing on a love of this nearly forgotten aspect of Maltese heritage to the next generation.

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