Gharghur semaphore tower restored

Photo: Raymond Attard

Photo: Raymond Attard

The newly restored Gharghur signalling tower, a landmark on the border with Naxxar, has been restored and will be open for public viewing on special occasions.

Today, the Malta Command group set up a day-long exhibition of military uniforms and war time communication equipment.

The tower was built in 1848 by the British army, as one of a series of semaphore towers that worked like a chain to convey information across the island by using three manually-operated large blades mounted on a pole.

The position of the blades stood for a letter or number and they allowed a message to get across the island within minutes.

The tower was privately owned but five years ago an agreement was signed and the local council took it over to restore it with the help of the government.

Works, carried out by the Restoration Unit of the Works Division, included replacing weathered stones and changing parts of the floor.

Invented by the French, the semaphore system came to Malta in the mid 1840s when poles were first installed on church steeples and domes. Eventually the church objected to this military use and semaphore stations were built.

They system was eventually replaced by the electronic telegraph.

Resources Minister George Pullicino said that although the Gharghur tower was small, it was part of Malta’s national heritage.

Restoration works for the parvis and balustrades of the Gharghur Parish Church, he said, were also planned while those on the Victoria Lines would be continued.

Mr Pullicino said that the government currently had 20 ongoing restoration projects that included works on Castille and the President’s Palace, both in Valletta.

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