Urgent works on the restoration of the tower/spire of St Paul’s Anglican Pro-Cathedral are about to start, the Save Valletta Skyline Restoration Appeal said on Thursday.
A €3 million contract between the Anglican Church authorities and a Maltese joint venture company (made up of leading contractors, Vassallo Builders Ltd, Agius Stoneworks Ltd and Vaults Ltd) received the go-ahead to embark on the works.
Following the preliminary preparations, including erection of safety hoarding, work will commence within the next fortnight.
This will start with the laborious process of the erection of the scaffolding surrounding the historic 67-metre bell-tower and spire of the Grade 1 listed cathedral and the removal of the six bells.
This is a massive undertaking which will be tackling the imperative need for the repair and reconstruction of the most vulnerable part of the cathedral.
A combination of EU funds and one-fifth co-financing by the cathedral through its Save the Valletta Skyline Restoration Appeal have provided the funding for this important first contract.
The contract is the culmination of many months of architectural inspections and detailed technical tests of the tower and spire of the cathedral by Malta’s foremost restoration architects, AP Valletta.
Their tests identified worrying signs of deterioration threatening the stability of the tower, the spire and the stonework throughout the cathedral, making this work, on one of Malta’s most-loved landmarks, an absolute priority.
Work is also in hand on the next contracts for this ambitious restoration project which will tackle the external fabric of the remainder of the church, direct accessibility between the church and the undercroft and the internal tower timber works, to be followed in due course by restoration works to the roof structure and ceiling.
Built in 1844, St Paul’s Anglican Pro-Cathedral forms an intrinsic part of Malta’s cultural heritage and is a universally recognised landmark in Valletta.
Towering over the seaward approach to the Valletta skyline, the church, a Grade 1 listed building of local stone, is of great consequence forms a pre-eminent part of Valletta’s architectural landscape.
With the bell-tower and its spire rising to over 67 metres from the ground, it is a historic and iconic element of the Valletta skyline.
The project to preserve and restore the cathedral aims to turn it into a thriving and attractive communal and tourism centre. It seeks to conserve, protect and further develop one of Malta’s outstanding national assets in a part of Valletta which is located in one of the government’s designated regeneration areas.
The restoration of the cathedral does not look merely at the physical regeneration of the building but aims to transform it into a vibrant community centre and tourist attraction.
The St Paul’s Anglican Pro-Cathedral church council recognises that a multi-faceted approach is necessary to address in a holistic manner the needs of the communities located in Valletta, especially in the area around the cathedral.
The restoration of the cathedral, which includes the recently restored undercroft into a café and imaginative visitor centre carried out at the church’s expense – and an integral part of the cathedral project - will add significant value to the tourism product offered by Malta.
The investment in the cathedral as a cultural and historical asset will also help to stimulate the current low economic activity in the area while contributing towards further developing the Maltese tourism experience.
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