Sunday Times of Malta, 24th August 2008, by Fiona Galea Debono –
While one Senglea resident may be complaining of “psychological distress” as a result of the chiming of its church bells, her counterparts in Mtarfa could not be happier now that the tower clock has started ticking again.
Nationalist mayor Anton Mifsud said it was “missed immensely” since it stopped ringing every quarter of an hour and on the hour in April 2006 on the instructions of the former Labour mayor, who, he said, claimed it had sustained substantial damage and there were no funds to fix it.
But two clock enthusiasts, Charles Pace and Mario Agius, both Mtarfa residents, have set the clock, dated 1895, back in motion. They are offering their services voluntarily and are currently calibrating, maintaining and monitoring the rudimentary, but good quality mechanical system that is an integral part of the locality’s identity.
The next step is to restore the four clock faces at the top of the tower, which stands on the Mtarfa highpoint and commands 360-degree views of the island. Its interior, including the winding stairs leading to the bells, is also due to be restored.
Mr Mifsud said he had always maintained that the clock was not that badly damaged. In fact, it did not take much to get it going again and it had cost nothing.
He said the clock was so important to Mtarfa that it was one of the main issues in the last local election, together with works on playing fields and roads in the locality, which are about to start. Mr Pace said the clock needed maintenance due to wear and tear – inherited from the British, it has, after all, been around for well over a century.
“The mechanism is so sensitive that even the presence of people in the room at the top of the tower could create a slight variance in the time,” he said.
For the enthusiasts, the mechanism, which may look complicated, are child’s play. They have set a weekly appointment to climb the tower and wind it, and plan to continue fine-tuning it.