Built over 370 years ago, ostensibly to closely guard the channel between l-Ahrax tal-Mellieħa and Comino, the White Tower is still standing, on its lonesome. Two other towers are clearly visible from it: the Red and Comino Towers and parts of Gozo far away.
By the end of this year its restoration will be completed, while in a separate project its accompanying battery has been restored.
The White Tower was built in 1648, one of thirteen towers built in the time of Grandmaster De Redin. Over sixty years later, around the tower a battery was built, the place on which up to 10 cannons could be placed. These were added to the two on the tower itself.
In the same year that the battery-forming fence was built, the block house was also built – a room where they stored ammunition for cannons, such as bullets. The battery has just been restored by the Tourism Authority together with the non-governmental organization Din l-Art Ħelwa.
Stanley Farrugia Randon, in charge of the restoration on behalf of Din l-Art Ħelwa, explained that the battery of the White Tower is different from others.
“We often saw them built with a fairly high fence and there would be holes in these fences, so that then the cannon could come out of this fence and then the soldiers could take refuge behind the fence. In this case the cannons were placed directly on the parapet on the wall and fired directly from the wall.”
After years in the hands of the private sector, towards the end of 2009 the White Tower passed into the hands of the Mellieħa Local Council which entrusted it to Din l-Art Ħelwa, so that this dilapidated building be converted into attraction.
Apart from the battery, the restoration of the tower itself is almost complete, which involved a going over on the inside and outside walls, changing of apertures, stones, roofs and water and electricity connections.
“These roofs are not from the time of the Knights, because those have remained intact. These roofs hail from the time of the British because the concrete cracked and their roofs some of them gave way and others were in danger of caving in.”
Din L-Art Helwa has appealed for more priority to be given the restoration of historic sites.
The restoration of the White Tower battery was inaugurated by the Minister for Tourism and Consumer Protection Clayton Bartolo at a cost of more than € 120,000.