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 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...
The Queen’s State Visit to Malta in 1967
Valletta, Malta Duke Of Edinburgh Royal Malta
Queen Elizabeth and The Duke of Edinburgh have been regular visitors to Malta ov...
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...
State Opening of Malta’s Parliament in 1950s
Valletta, Malta George Borg Olivier opening of malta parliament
This amazing film from our archives shows the pomp and ceremony surrounding the ...
How Tritons’ Fountain became a Malta landmark
Floriana Triton Fountain
For more than six decades, three giant mermen have greeted visitors to Malta’s...
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...
Village feasts have been part of Maltese culture for decades
Valletta, Malta Maltese festa Malta festa
Religious feasts or ‘festas’ have been an important part of Maltese ...
Going down? The story of Malta’s original Barrakka Lift
Valletta, Malta Joe Dimech Barrakka Lift
Valletta’s first Barrakka Lift operated between 1905 and 1973, linking the...
School life in Malta has changed so much since the 1960s
Valletta, Malta school outings
The 1960s were a time of considerable change in Malta, but in the island’s...
How the entrance to Malta’s capital keeps evolving
Valletta, Malta Architect Spiteri City Gate
The entrance to Valletta has changed beyond recognition over the past six decade...
Exploring one of Malta’s oldest pre-historic temple sites
Zebbiegh Malta temples
The Skorba temples are megalithic remains on the northern edge of Zebbiegh and p...
Remembering the Charlie Chaplin of Malta
Gwardamanġa George Farrugia
This is an excerpt from a comedy series featuring George Farrugia, known as Char...