Cospicua malta dockyard
Leave your feedback
LEAVE YOUR FEEDBACK

Video ID: 427

Submitting Feedback

The rise and fall of Malta’s once mighty naval shipyards

Description

Malta has been a centre for shipbuilding and ship repairs for hundreds of years, with boats being built in the Grand Harbour as early as the 15th century.

However, it was during the 19th century in Paola, Marsa, Cospicua, Senglea and Vittoriosa that the shipyards became a real source of commerce for Malta.

The advent of the steam engine marked massive opportunities for Malta to expand its heavy industry and the Malta Royal Naval Dockyard soon became the most important and busiest navy base in the Mediterranean, employing thousands of Maltese workers.

It was initially located around Dockyard Creek, and occupied several of the dockyard buildings formerly used by the Knights of Malta.

By 1850 the facilities included storehouses, a ropery, a small steam factory, victualling facilities, houses for the officers of the Yard, and most notably a dry dock – the first to be provided for a Royal Dockyard outside Britain.

Started in 1844, the dry dock was opened in 1847. Around 10 years later it was extended to form a double dock.

In the second half of the century the steam factory with its machine shops and foundries was expanded.

Very soon, though, it was clear that more space was required than the crowded wharves of Dockyard Creek afforded, to accommodate the increasing size of ships and the increasing size of the Royal Navy fleet based in Malta.

The decision was taken to expand into the adjacent French Creek, and between 1861 and 1909 a further five dry docks were constructed along with an assortment of buildings to serve the Navy.

Malta remained an important base during the First World War and the Second World War.

In January 1941 more than 60 Nazi dive bombers attacked the dockyard in an attempt to destroy the damaged aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious. Only one bomb hit the ship.

In April 1942 the Admiral Superintendent of Malta Dockyard reported that due to German air attacks on Malta’s naval base ‘practically no workshops were in action other than those underground’.

After the war Britain’s shipbuilding industry went into decline with yards on the Clyde, the Tyne and on Merseyside left with empty order books.

Despite a major modernisation programme, the Malta shipyards also began to feel the impact of the budget cuts imposed on the Ministry of Defence.

In 1957 when hundreds of redundancies were announced.

Two years later, the Malta dockyard was handed over to Baileys of Wales, a civilian firm of ship repairers and marine engineers, before eventually being nationalised and passed into the hands of the Maltese government.

The ship repair facilities in Cospicua which were previously operated by Malta Shipyards Ltd in the 1980s and 1990s were taken over by the Italian firm Palumbo in 2010.

More places from Cospicua

The real story behind the Malta riots in 1958
Birgu General Workers Union
The political arguments over the future of Malta degenerated into violence on Sa...
Malta miracle! How Cospicua Church defied the odds during the war
Cospicua National Pilgrimage of the Immaculate Conception
Cospicua is well known for its annual Feast of the Immaculate Conception, which ...
The rise and fall of Malta’s once mighty naval shipyards
Cospicua malta dockyard
Malta has been a centre for shipbuilding and ship repairs for hundreds of years,...
Remembering Maltese Prime Minister Dom Mintoff
Cospicua Dom Mintoff Prime Minister of Malta
Dom Mintoff dominated the political scene in Malta for almost four decades. Born...

Places Nearby

Remembering Maltese Prime Minister Dom Mintoff
Cospicua Dom Mintoff Prime Minister of Malta
Dom Mintoff dominated the political scene in Malta for almost four decades. Born...
Cleaning up Malta more than 60 years ago
Malta clean up malta
Campaigns to make Malta green and clean are nothing new. Communities across the ...
Remembering Maltese Prime Minister George Borg Olivier
Malta Dom Mintoff 21 September 1964
George Borg Olivier served twice as Prime Minister, and was the first Prime Mini...
The proud history of Fort St Elmo in Valletta
Valletta, Malta
Guarding Marsamxett and the Grand Harbour is Fort St Elmo, named after the patr...
A new lease of life for a Valletta landmark
Valletta, Malta Anton Buttigieg mcc opening 1979
This archive footage shows some of the extensive restoration work carried out in...
A look inside one of Malta’s Royal Naval Hospitals
Mtarfa
The Royal Navy Hospital Mtarfa, also known as David Bruce Royal Naval Hospital i...
How Malta celebrated Independence Day in 1964
Floriana George Borg Olivier Independence Day
This exclusive archive footage shows how Malta celebrated its first Independence...
Meet veteran Maltese actress Karmen Azzopardi
Valletta, Malta karmen azzopardi Maltese actress
Karmen Azzopardi remains one of Malta’s best-loved and respected actresses...
How Floriana has never played second fiddle to Valletta
Floriana Sir Maurice Dorman Floriana football club
Floriana has a rich history. The town, a stone’s throw away from Valletta,...
Republic Day: Another milestone in Malta’s history
Valletta, Malta sir anthony mamo republic day malta
This is the historic speech delivered by Sir Anthony Mamo just moments after he ...
Remembering the early days of Rediffusion in Malta
Malta Charles Arrigo broadcasting in malta
The origins of broadcasting in Malta date back to the first broadcast transmitte...
How Malta survived the Second World War
Valletta, Malta second world war malta
Malta became the most bombed place on Earth in 1942. In total, 15,000 tonnes of ...