Gozo Minister Justyne Caruana has inaugurated the restored WWII air raid shelters at the Citadel in Victoria. The shelters underwent extensive restoration by Wirt Għawdex in collaboration with the Gozo Ministry.
Dr Caruana expressed her satisfaction that this historical site was now open to the public and that the continuing cooperation between Wirt Għawdex and the Ministry will see more projects in 2019.
In the Public Works records it is noted that in July/August 1940 some Gozitans sought the help of government public works diggers to construct private shelters for them as they realised that the thick walls of their homes would not provide enough protection from possible air raids. Those Gozitans who could afford to have a private shelter commissioned diggers as the government was not yet in a position to provide public shelters. In fact, private shelters were already being used in Malta.
The restored shelter complex was excavated in early 1941 and consisted of 32 individual rooms along 150 metres of tunnels underneath the St Martin demi-bastion. Its main entrance is on the main roadway up to the main gate with an emergency exit within the ditch.
The government would only dig out the central corridors and then families had to pay for the digging of their own private shelters. Those who opted for a private shelter had to follow certain conditions and restrictions such as the size of the cubicle, digging had to be finished within a month and no doors allowed on any of the cubicles.
The rehabilitation of the shelters also included the installation of an LED lighting system, motion sensors, a sound system and information panels.
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