Two decades of restoration for generations to come

Over €21,000,000 invested by MIDI in restoration works of Maltese heritage

The year 2020 has brought MIDI’s latest series of restoration projects to an end. The projects, worth over €21,000,000, concerned Tigné Point and Manoel Island. The conservation works undertaken by MIDI pls are considered to be one of the largest private restoration initiatives for local heritage that have ever been carried out by a private company in Malta.

The extensive restoration projects kicked off in 2000, spanning almost two decades of intensive studies, planning and conservation works by a team of experts. They have brought the magnificent Fort Manoel, Fort Tigné, Tigné Barracks, the Garden Battery and a number of other heritage assets at Tigné Point and Manoel Island back to their former glory. Other restoration works will follow in due course.

The labourious and intensive restoration of various important heritage sites began with the successful restoration of St Luke’s Garrison Chapel at Tigné, where a foundation stone traces the chapel’s origin right back to 16 January, 1910. Once it was restored, the chapel served as MIDI’s head office for a number of years. It is now used as an office for a local company involved in the maritime and hospitality industry. 

Concurrently, the long rehabilitation process began on Fort Manoel, which, following the departure of the British, was left in a state of neglect for many years. Subsequently, it was damaged by a combination of vandalism and neglect. It lay forgotten and abandoned until MIDI plc took on the project, benefitting largely from the attention and detail given to its restoration. 

New life was breathed into Couvre Porte, which stands proudly overlooking Valletta in all its beauty, while the recently restored quadrangle is majestic in the space is offers, as are the parade ground, the arcade and the Polversita.

The Garden Battery
The Garden Battery
The Couvre Porte
The Couvre Porte
Fort Tigne
Fort Tigne
The Cattleshed on Manoel Island
The Cattleshed on Manoel Island

The small, but perfectly renovated Chapel of St Anthony of Padua was also completed, as it was partly destroyed following a direct hit during World War II. The counterscarps, which form part of the outer fortifications of the Fort Manoel, have also been completed. 

Built in the 1720s, possibly the early 1730s, the protective walls are largely rock cut, rather than built, given their location and topography. Their main purpose was to serve as opposing walls to the enceinte across the ditch and to accommodate the covert staircases.

Cue the beautiful St George’s funerary chapel. Following years of dilapidation, the chapel has been meticulously restored to its former self. During the process, two fragmented but original tombstones were found strewn inside the chapel. These have now been restored and mounted within. The ancient chapel formed part of the Lazzaretto quarantine hospital on Manoel Island, along with the recently restored cattle shed, where livestock used to be kept in quarantine. 

The plague hospital, which was constructed much later, was a different building altogether and was situated west of the Lazzaretto. All that remains of the hospital is the one-time superintendent’s house, which was later used as a customs house and an associated small chapel. Both structures are also to be restored by MIDI plc. 

Incidentally, the Lazzaretto is not the oldest surviving construction on Manoel Island. The oldest is the cattle quarantine shed, erected just outside the Lazzaretto divisions. It was later used as a beer distribution centre. 

Fort Tigné was also restored to its former glory. Originally built in 1792 to the design of the Order of St John’s chief engineer, Stefano de Toussard, the objective of the fort was to strengthen this particular promontory against possible attacks from sea and land. The restoration project for the Fort foresees the revitalisation of the unique 18th century edifice in order to house a number of cultural and commercial activities, as well as to restore and maximise accessibility to what was, until recently, an abandoned and derelict ruin. 

The Garden Battery at Tigné Point, which was constructed in 1894, also received much needed professional attention when it was rediscovered by MIDI. As much as possible was retained and restored at the additional cost of €7,000,000. MIDI’s restoration of the Garden Battery was recognised for its outstanding restoration works during the 14th edition of the Architectural Heritage Awards last year, which was organised by local culture and heritage NGO, Din l-Art Helwa. 

The area originally provided protection for the seaward side of Tigné Point, while bridging the gap between Fort Tigné and the Cambridge Battery. The decision by MIDI to retain, preserve and breathe new life into the battery, while seamlessly incorporating it into the plans for the Tigné Point development, will now form part of a heritage trail, which will link Fort Cambridge to Fort Tigné, connecting to an uninterrupted pedestrian promenade around the Tigné Point peninsula, from Qui-Si-Sana to Tigné Seafront. 

The massive historic restoration and preservation project has ensured that the neglected heritage buildings found on Manoel Island and Tigné Point will now be preserved for generations to come, providing tangible evidence of Malta’s rich and diverse history. 

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