10 winning facts about Corradino

1. There was a time, not very long ago, when the word “Corradino” was associated not with a correctional facility but with one of recreation.

2. The British were firm believers in the benefits of sports and went to great lengths to push this home. Towards the end of the 19th century, the Royal Navy authorities decided to embellish and restructure the Corradino area, which its men used for recreation.

3. Small rooms with basic facilities were transformed into a magnificent building containing a theatre, a library, a huge reading room, a magnificent billiard room, and canteen facilities.

4. The Corradino Fleet Canteen was described by the British Services as “an institution common to both the Royal Navy and the Army; a social centre for the purpose of refreshment and indoor entertainment.” It was later known as the Royal Naval Fleet Club Malta.

5. It served as a recreational facility for British soldiers and sailors for 71 years, from 1897 until 1968.

6. In the late 1960’s, it was no long feasible to keep the club running and it was closed down. Below we can see the announcement of its closure, as published in The Naval Review magazine of 4th October 1968:

THE NAVAL REVIEW – Vol. LVI No. 4 OCTOBER 1968

THE FLEET CLUB CORRADINO CLOSES DOWN

On May 31st, 1968 the Royal Naval Fleet Club Malta, formerly known as the Fleet Canteen, closed its doors for the last time, after being the second home to the Royal Navy in Malta for the past 71 years. It was opened on 1st February, 1897 by Admiral Sir John Hopkins, K.C.B., then the Commander in Chief Mediterranean, after a sum of £7,000 had been granted by the Admiralty for the erection and fitting out of the Canteen.

The Club, which stood on Corradino Heights above the Parlatorio and Canteen Wharves, was a prominent mark to ships berthing alongside, with its Single Tower and Dome (Twin Towers pre 1941). Run by a Committee representative of the R.N. in Malta under the Presidency of the Commanding Officer of HMS St. Angelo, it catered for all aspects of recreation. Before the war, as many as 36 Snooker Tables were in operation, the restaurant seated 200, whilst the Cinema Theatre held nearly 1,000 persons, and in its heyday 30 members of the N.A.A.F.I. Staff would have been on duty at one time as well as up to 8 members of the Naval Staff.

Since 1950, the facilities, although continuing, have gradually reduced, and many a long serving sailor or ex-sailor will remember the ‘Mess Runs’ to the Canteen, the Ship’s Company dances, the Sailors Operas and the Wakes that took place under the watchful eye of the Club Master-at-Arms, who was responsible for the day to day running of the Club.

7. The building for a while was turned into a trade school, until the building was demolished and the area was excavated to have a huge dock built where the largest ships of the day could be repaired.

8. The ship-repair facility in Corradino, known as Red China Dock because it was built by the Chinese government in 1975, is more than three times the length of a football pitch and twelve metres deep, with a capacity of 300,000 tonnes. It is still the largest dry dock in the Mediterranean, now part of the Palumbo Shipyard.

9. At the same location we can still find the old Corradino Military Prison.

10. Today the word Corradino is more closely associated with the civil correctional facility in Paola, of which it is the name.

01 the royal naval canteen
The Royal Naval Fleet Club Malta
02 match prob at corradino  canteen
Football match at Corradino Fleet Canteen
03 Malta.fEB.1899.Corradino Canteen theatre. Seating capacity, aprox. 1000
February 1899. Corradino Canteen Theatre. Seating capacity approx. 1000
04 MALTA. CORRADINO CANTEEN. - REHERSALS IN PROGRESS
Corradino Canteen Theatre – rehearsals in progress
05 MALTA feb 1899.Corradino canteen.  -The reading room
February 1899. Corradino Fleet Canteen – the reading room
06 MALTA. FEB.1899.Corradino canteen. - The billiard Room. adj i.v
February 1899. Corradino Fleet Canteen – the billiard room
07 MALTA. FEB.1899. Corradino canteen. Administration & staff
February 1899. Corradino Fleet Canteen – the administration and staff
08 TINDA - CORRADINO CANTEEN early 20th century. behind it is a sports ground stand. to the right is Paola church
Early 20th century. Behind the canteen is a sports ground stand while Paola church is to the right.
09 corradino trade school
Corradino Trade School
10 MALTA CORRADINO - THE ROYAL NAVAL CANTEEN - Hilltop - HM Prisons - military prison, not the civil one at Paola
The Royal Naval Fleet Club. On the hilltop are HM Prisons, a military prison, not the civil one at Paola
11. 27th November 1972 HMS ARK ROYAL AT PARLATORIO WHARF A GENERAL VIEW OF THE AREA AND SPORTS GROUNDS
27th November 1972 HMS Ark Royal at Parlatorio Wharf and a general view of the area and sports grounds.

 

Written by Melanie Drury. Photos and information courtesy of Joseph Piccinino.

 

 

Melanie Drury

Melanie Drury

Writing has been Melanie's craft for as long as she could remember, and it combined well with her new-found love for long-haul travel, her greatest indulgence even now. Melanie's next favourite indulgence is dancing, whether out at a party, at a workshop or in her living room - it makes her feel alive, free, and connected, just as it does to experience nature, or to connect with people and their worlds.