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Residents divided over turning back the clock

Resources and Infrastructure Minister Ninu Zammit, holding a postcard, shows Ray Bondin, president and coordinator of the Cottonera Rehabilitation Committee, where the clock tower used to stand.

Resources and Infrastructure Minister Ninu Zammit, holding a postcard, shows Ray Bondin, president and coordinator of the Cottonera Rehabilitation Committee, where the clock tower used to stand.

Vittoriosa residents appear to be divided over whether a 16th century clock tower, demolished during enemy action in World War II, should be rebuilt.

Some residents argue that the tower - which used to stand in the main square - is part of the town's heritage and should therefore be reconstructed.

Others feel there is no real need for it. Apart from taking up already scarce parking places, the structure would not be the same as the one that was completely destroyed by a bomb in 1942, veteran resident Charles Depasquale said.

Mayor John Boxall said that because there were mixed feelings among residents, a local referendum should perhaps be held over the issue.

Meanwhile, workers equipped with jackhammers yesterday started excavating the middle of Victory Square where the clock tower once stood.

On a visit to the site yesterday, Resources and Infrastructure Minister Ninu Zammit said the aim was to try to locate the foundations of the tower. If found, there would be an evaluation of whether it was technically possible to rebuild the tower.

The Cottonera Rehabilitation Committee, which is within the same ministry, and the Vittoriosa local council have commissioned the Archaeological Services Cooperative to determine the approximate locality of the foundations.

Mr Zammit said the planned paving of Victory Square, scheduled for the coming years, could be influenced by the outcome of the excavations.

The clock tower project, if it went ahead, would fall within the government's plans to rehabilitate the Cottonera area.

A postcard showing it-Torri ta' l-Arlogg, as the structure was known among Vittoriosa residents, gives 1549 as the year of construction.

Vittoriosa historian Lorenzo Zahra said the date had been carved on the door of the tower. He also noted that the tower was mentioned in the diary of the Great Siege of 1565 by the Knight Balbi di Corregio.

Mr Zahra said that one of the first initiatives of the Vittoriosa Historic and Cultural Society, when this was set up 50 years ago, was to call on the government to rebuild the tower.

Many elderly persons still remember the landmark, which for many years stood a few metres away from the Victory Monument in the same square.

Most of the clock's mechanism is stored at the local council premises and one of the clock's hands is exhibited at the Vittoriosa Museum.

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