Urgent restoration work will take place at St Paul’s Anglican Pro-Cathedral in Valletta, after large pieces of masonry broke off the tower.
The fabric of the cathedral has long been in dire need of restoration. Architects have identified unstable structures, and the fabric of the tower, the spire and the stonework have severe problems. A fund for restoration work – seeking to raise €8 million – was launched some two years ago.
Prince Charles and billionaire theatrical producer Sir Cameron Mackintosh have both donated hefty sums to the cause.
Built in 1844, the cathedral is one of the most universally recognised features of the Valletta skyline, but experts have long warned the structure was in dire need of restoration.
A few weeks ago, a large piece of stone fell from the tower, ending up on the street.
It was an accident waiting to happen, structural engineer Charles Sciberras feared. Experts had previously identified the cause behind the cracking in the tower – metal rods that had been installed within the stone to reinforce it.
“It was a technique popular at the time the cathedral was being built,” project manager Guillaume Dreyfuss said. The iron bands laid as the tower went up eventually rusted and expanded with the heat, consequently fracturing the stone.
A debris-containing net will be installed around the tower this weekend. Four specialised workers abseiling from the spire will instal strapping and netting to the deteriorated areas of the tower.
The tower is a challenge to access, Mr Dreyfuss said. Standing at almost 68 metres, it is higher than the Barrakka lift and was, for a long time, the tallest building in Malta.
It was an accident waiting to happen
St Paul’s Anglican Pro-Cathedral is a Grade 1 building of local stone in the World Heritage city of Valletta.
An organisation called “Save the Valletta skyline”, formed to raise funds for restoration work, has long argued the cathedral would stand at the epicentre of the capital city and a vibrant community centre.
Work on restoring the cathedral will start in June and a call for applications is open now.
The ring road around Valletta will be closed for safety reasons as from tomorrow afternoon due to urgent restoration works on the tower.
Great Siege Road will also be closed on Sunday (from 7am onwards) and Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (from 3pm onwards) while the net is installed.
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