It takes a very determined group of people, the volunteers of Din l-Art Ħelwa, to endure gale-force wind, hail and freezing temperatures to carry out such a feat, as was achieved on Friday 18th January: The returning of two cannon dating back to the days of the Order, on to the roof of St Agatha Tower, known as The Red Tower.
The delicate, if not dangerous, operation was carried out by hoisting the guns and their newly built carriages up by crane and placing them in the embrasures of the roof of the tower despite the inclement weather. The 2 cannon have been loaned by Heritage Malta to Din l-Art Ħelwa, who has had them restored, under the supervision of Heritage Malta Curator Mr. Emanuel Magro Conti. The carriages were built by Din l-Art Helwa to fit the calibre of the guns and their construction is based on historic original designs.
Lt Col Eric Parnis and Judge Joseph Galea Debono supervised the difficult operation with the support of Josie Ellul Mercer, Property Division Manager who looks after the upkeep and maintenance of DLĦ sites. Some enthusiasts, including James Farrugia, who took these impressive photos, braved the weather to attend.
St Agatha Tower was built in 1649, during the reign of Grand Master Jean Paul Lascaris Castellar with the intent of guarding the Comino Channel and Għadira Bay from incursions by the Ottoman Turks and the Barbary Corsairs. After serving as Company Head Quarters for E Company, of the 1st. Battalion, King’s Own Malta Regiment during WW II, the Tower was in private hands for a number of years. In the 1970’s it was taken over by the Armed Forces of Malta as a coast guard observation post and radar station. It was then given to din l-Art Helwa about 14 years ago under a guardianship agreement and was extensively restored thanks to the sponsorship of the Demajo Group of Companies, Toly Products Co. Ltd. and Playmobil Malta.
Spectacularly situated at l-Aħrax tal-Mellieħa at the crest of Marfa ridge, the Red tower dominates Għadira Bay. Today, the guns are not expected to serve as deterrent to foreign incursions, but rather to enrich the experience of the numerous tourists and history aficionados who walk up the newly done-up road to visit one of Malta’s most fascinating heritage sites.