The 18th century battery outside Marsalforn is in dire need of intervention, with the rate of damage speeding up as more of it becomes exposed to the elements.

Din l-Art Ħelwa – Ghawdex recently organised a clean-up of this Grade 1 scheduled building, which was supposed to be handed over by the Government to its parent NGO Din l-Art Ħelwa some 15 years ago.

However, this never happened and the hand-over has been held up at Lands Department ever since while the battery has been falling ever further into disrepair, with structural damage now very evident.

The clean-up was organised with the help of NGO Nadur Nadif and the Gozo branch of the Cast Out project.  Members of the Pahola Zumba class, which use the parvis for their outdoor classes and many citizens with an environmental conscience joined the very well attended event, other passersby also joined in the activity.  Daniel Cordina from the Zebbug Local Council which supported the clean-up also attended.

Around 40 bags of rubbish were collected, as well as four boxes of broken glass, other scrap, and discarded white goods.  Much more still needs to be done with the interior of the Battery in a state of complete shambles and disrepair.  The volunteers were also given a talk about the history of the site by Din l-Art Ħelwa Education Officer Stanley Farrugia Randon.

This is not the first time this year that Din l-Art Ħelwa highlighted the plight of the Qbajjar Battery as well as other sites awaiting restoration. Last February, at the Annual General Meeting, Executive President Alex Torpiano had warned that many historic sites were deteriorating through neglect and abandon as a result of bureaucratic delays in granting their guardianships to NGOs.

Besides the Qbajjar Battery in Żebbuġ, Din l-Art Ħelwa has also for some time been seeking guardianship of the medieval chapel of San Ċir, the Cavalerizza and Marfa Palace in Mellieħa, which are all in dire straits and need restoration as soon as possible. 

It has already carried out the required studies, acquired the necessary permits and found funds for restoration.  All that is needed is action from the Government to protect the Qbajjar Battery and many other of Malta’s beautiful and historic sites for this and future generations.

A guardianship agreement generally has a renewable span of 10-15 years, during which the NGO is obliged to keep the site in pristine condition, with annual reporting to the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage. 

PHOTOS: Daniel Cilia