Gold Ribbon Banner
Tuesday, August 20, 2019
Maltese Maritime Museum

Malta’s “Maritime Museum” is housed in the former Naval Bakery on the quay of Valletta’s urban ward Birgu. Construction of the bakery started in 1842 with the objective to supply the huge British fl eet in the Mediterranean with bread and biscuits. The steam-driven machinery was set in motion for the fi rst time in 1845 and the needed coals and grains were stored in an adjacent 16th century building; victuals had priority over monument conservation. The two multi-purpose machines went full blast in 1848. They washed, dried, sieved and milled the grain, and the bakery’s twelve ovens turned out 30,000 lbs of bakery products – per day.

The architect who designed the bakery let himself be inspired by the façade of Windsor Castle, and a handsome building resulted. The bakery did a good job for over a hundred years. It was only in the 1950s that it was closed down, giving way to offices and the headquarters of the Admiralty Constabulary.

When the British garrison bowed out on 31 March 1979, these last tenants had to go, too. Parts of the building were demolished and, in 1988, the Malta Maritime Museum, largest and best endowed such institution on the island, moved into the ample remaining spaces. About time too, Malta having been at the crossroads of Mediterranean shipping since pre-Christian times.

Mainly during both world wars, large numbers of naval vessels plied the waters round the island, time and again putting into port at Valletta Harbour or being stationed there permanently. There is a lot to show as a consequence. Yet the name “Old Naval Bakery” remains preserved till today and any Maltese being asked about it will instantly know that the Maritime Museum is now housed in the edifice and nothing is baked any more.

Naturally, the focal point of the exhibits is on British naval history. Britain held sway over Malta from the year 1800 on and turned the island into a stronghold which even withstood the German Luftwaffe – in spite of 154 days of constant bombardment from 1941-42. The bakery received a few hits too, but only marginally; some shrapnel are still embedded in its façade.

When the museum took over in 1988, it had to start from scratch. Its administration takes pride in the fact that there wasn’t a single artefact to show in the beginning, but that the inventory grew by leaps and bounds, partly through own initiative and partly through the help of sponsors, and today counts no less than 20,000 exhibits.

The centre of attraction is “the heaviest Roman anchor of all times”, a behemoth of four tonnes of lead, which probably took an army of slaves to hoist. The anchor was long associated with the shipwreck of the Apostle Paul in AD 60 or so, till it turned out that the timing was apparently wrong.

Anchors of Roman ships are nothing special in Malta. There is even an “Anchor Bay” in the island’s northwest, where considerable numbers of them could be retrieved; most were taken to the museum.

The island’s largest collection of heavy-calibre cannon from the era when Albion ruled the seas is no less interesting than “Paul’s anchor”, and so is the steampropelled ship’s engine of 1951 vintage, removed from a local harbour dredge. Other highlights are a Napoleonic figurehead from HMS Hibernia of 110 cannon, and an assembly of over 60 Maltese boats out of several centuries.

Magnificent model ships from olden times will make the hearts of aficionados beat faster. And numerous contemporary paintings adorn the walls of the museum, many showing naval engagements round the island, such as the victorious one against a vastly superior fleet of Turkish wouldbe invaders in 1565. In this manner, the spectator gets an impression in what clumsy craft Malta’s Knights of St John plied the seas of yore, but apparently reached their destinations, nevertheless.

When it comes to its locality, the museum couldn’t have chosen a better place. The quay was previously used by men-of-war to load provisions and stores, and in earlier times the arsenal of the Maltese Knights’ galleys was sited there. In front of the quay, a huge mass of pleasure craft occupy the Vittoriosa Yacht Marina, adjacent to the Grand Harbour, one of the Med’s deepest natural ports upon which Malta’s maritime importance is based

Read the rest of this article with additional pictures in Sea Breezes Magazine - November 2018 Issue
Click here to subscribe

Subscribe Graphic

Latest Issue - Look Inside!

Boudicca

Most Popular

  • Lifeboat Withdrawn After Some Crew Stood Down +

  • Scorpene Sub Snags +

  • An Unexpected Job in Cuba +

  • New Crane Lifts Business Growth +

  • Test Spells The End of Paper Bills of Lading +

  • 1
  • 2

Latest Products

Maritime Log

  • Lifeboat Withdrawn After Some Crew Stood Down +

    Peterhead Lifeboat Peterhead lifeboat has been taken out of action by the RNLI. Read More
  • Test Spells The End of Paper Bills of Lading +

    CargoX Demo It is possible to stop using the paper Bill of Lading according to a test of CargoX’s blockchain-based Smart Bill Read More
  • New Crane Lifts Business Growth +

    Hull Port A new £3.5mn hybrid Liebherr crane has been delivered to Associated British Ports (ABP) for operation at Hull to support Read More
  • Crowds Tribute to the Last Tyne +

    Annie Blaker The last of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution’s famous Tyne class lifeboats was launched for the last time at her Read More
  • Clyde’s Vital Role in Onshore Windfarm +

    Clydeport Clydeport has played a vital role in the building of the UK’s largest onshore windfarm on Eaglesham Moor, just 20 Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

North America

  • Record Set by Largest US Ship for Hawaii Service +

    Lurline The largest combination container, roll-on, roll-off ship ever built in the United States was formerly named in a ceremony at Read More
  • $293mn for Port Projects +

    Long Beach port The United States is to invest $292.7mn in the country’s ports through a new Port Infrastructure Development Programme. Read More
  • Facility Exports First Cargo of Propane to Japan +

    Sumire Gas The first marine export facility for propane in Canada has been officially opened. Read More
  • Changes in Tolls for Using Panama Canal +

    MSC Pohlin The Panama Canal plans to modify its tolls structure for all types of ships “to better serve the global maritime Read More
  • Largest LNG Carrier Sails From West to East +

    Al Safliya The largest LNG tanker to use the Panama Canal since it was expanded less that three years ago passed through Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Asia-Pacific

  • Line Adds Automated Power Kite to Propulsion +

    Airseas The Japanese shipping company Kawasaki Kisen KK (K Line) aims to cut ship greenhouse gas emissions with automated power kites. Read More
  • ONE Express to North Sea and Baltic +

    ONE Apus The Japanese shipping line Ocean Network Express (ONE) was due to start an enhanced North Sea Baltic Service with Russia Read More
  • MOL Links with Russian Uni for Crew Training +

    Makarov University The Japanese shipping company Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with a Russian university on co-operation Read More
  • “Prelude” Makes its Debut With First LNG Cargo +

    Prelude The first shipment of liquefied natural gas (LNG) has left Shell’s floating LNG facility Prelude some 475kms north-east of Broome Read More
  • Special Navigating System to be Fitted to VLCCs +

    AR Nav Following two-ship trials, augmented reality (AR) navigation systems are to be installed on 21 very large crude oil carriers (VLCCs) Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Naval Focus

  • Scorpene Sub Snags +

    INS Khanderi indian News The troubled Scorpene class submarine program hit another snag in June. Read More
  • US Navy’s Frigate Program Passes Significant Hurdle +

    USS Minneapolis-St Paul US News The US Navy has unveiled its plans for the purchase of a new frigate known as FFG(X). Read More
  • Fourth Dreadnought Named HMS “King George VI” +

    Dreadnought Class UK News The fourth member of the new Dreadnought class of nuclear powered ballistic missile submarines will bear the name Read More
  • US Navy Orders Flight II Landing Platform Dock +

    LDP30 American News The contract for the construction of LPD30, the first Flight II Landing Platform Dock of the San Antonio Read More
  • US Navy Seeks Faster Ship Delivery +

    FFGX Rendering American News The future frigate program for the US Navy is getting fully underway and some idea of the urgency Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Ferry World

  • Fragile Future for Calmac +

    Isle of Arran TMore and more, I am reading reports that say the media, and the public too, are well aware of the Read More
  • Oscar Goes to Italy +

    Oscar Wilde Irish Continental Group has entered into a bareboat hire purchase agreement for the sale of its 1987-built Oscar Wilde to Read More
  • CalMac Heritage +

    Columba I include a fine poster and artist’s image of the famed Macbrayne paddler Columba. Read More
  • Russian Adventure +

    Ocean Adventurer To the North East Coast and arriving at Aberdeen for the first time for many months, I witnessed a passenger Read More
  • Windemere Jetties +

    Osprey and Branksome Last month I commented on the new setting of the classic collection of mainly steam boats held at Windermere. Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Sail Review/Coastal Comment

  • The Green Band of Marstal +

    Bessie Ellen The Danish Maritime Museum had the schooner Bonavista built on the island of Aero at Marstal and this year they Read More
  • Norweigan National Day +

    Thorodd I was in Montrose on the Norwegian National Day, 17 May, when its independent constitution from Sweden was confirmed in Read More
  • Port of Aberdeen Fifty Years On +

    Aberdeen Harbour Extension Project When I first arrived in Aberdeen in 1968, I couldn’t believe my luck. Read More
  • Thames Tributary Barges +

    Lady of the Lea Most of the rivers flowing into the Thames had their own barge type. Read More
  • Dry Rot and Dry Dock +

    HMS Victory For some time Victory, the 110gun ship of the line, has had trouble with dry rot and is in danger Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

From the Lookout

  • President Opens ‘Largest UK Ship Simulation Centre’ +

    Sir Michael Bibby With the training of seafarers being so important to safety at sea, and in particular navigation equipment and bridge procedures, Read More
  • Hands-Free Mooring at St Lawrence Seaway +

    St Lawrence Seaway I feel there are probably many readers, like me, who feel a shiver down their spine when they think of Read More
  • Flying the Flag on Merchant Navy Day +

    Red Ensign For more than 35 years, it has been my immense privilege to be a local Isle of Man committee member Read More
  • Lifeline Cash for “Waverley” Agreed +

    Waverley The Paddle Steamer Preservation Society (PSPS) has announced that it will provide immediate funding to support efforts to “Save The Read More
  • Viking Glory Celebrates Keel Laying +

    Front Altair The construction of Viking Glory is proceeding on schedule. Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Cruise News/Superyacht News

  • Boudicca Pays Tribute to D-Day Veterans +

    Boudicca Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines were proud to have played its part in hosting 250 D-Day veterans. Read More
  • Captain of a Modern Passenger Carrying Sail Ship +

    Sea Cloud 2 If you have ever wondered what qualities a Captain of a cruise vessel might need to have listed on his Read More
  • Every Ash Cloud Has A Silver Lining +

    The ash cloud crisis continues to cause uncertainty as we see sporadic closures of airspace and cancelled flights, and this Read More
  • Damen Group Superyachts +

    Amels With 25 projects underway, business is booming for Amels, the Dutch luxury yacht builder. Read More
  • Singer Andrea Bocelli Trades Up in Size +

    Stella del Nord Andrea Bocelli, the blind Italian tenor and song writer whose work spans both popular music and classical opera is a Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Ships, Ports and Places

Cuba

An Unexpected Job in Cuba

In 1948, I joined the MV Yamaska Park as an EDH and, over the first few days aboard, I became Read More
Suez Canal

The Creation of the Suez Canal - Part Two

IAt the end of 1858, the company’s Works Committee convened for the first time. It included an impressive assembly of Read More
  • 1
  • 2

Companies, Events and Other Features

Gudvangen

From Fjords to Fiji

On the morning of 9 October 2014, two patrol boats from the Spanish Maritime Service and Public Safety Unit were Read More
MV Laganbank

Bank Line's Building Boom

50 British built ships over a ten-year period from 1957 to 1967. Read More
  • 1
  • 2