11 things to note about this photo from Castille 111 years ago

view from castille richard ellis
View from Castille 1904

At first glance this photo may not look like much, however closer scrutiny reveals a few interesting clues about the area at the time.

1. This picture was taken in 1904 by Richard Ellis, one of the foremost photographers at the time and who is largely responsible for the archive of pictures of Malta in those days.

2. The photo was published by photographers Hodson and Kearns in one of their publications on the British Empire’s news worldwide.

3. The photographer was standing on the rooftop of Auberge de Castille facing outwards on the right hand side.

4. Interesting to note is that this was the highest rooftop point of the city on that side, unless one climbed up the signal tower, two stories higher.

5. On the other side of the city, the highest point would have been St Elmo’s lighthouse, which was sadly dismantled at the beginning of WWII.

6. The immediate building visible, just below the Auberge, is the rooftop of St James Cavalier. Clearly visible are the chimney stacks which were included by the British and the guard house, while the two circular spaces on the roof is where two huge stone water cisterns were built by the royal engineers to supply water to St James Cavalier and surrounding area. During the renovation of the Cavalier, in the year 2000, one of these towers was dismantled, while the other now houses a small theater.

7. Right in front of St James Cavalier is the Floriana parade ground, what is now known as the Independence Arena. It also served as a car park, football and sports ground.

8. The buildings at the top right of the ground, in the area now known as Belt is-Sebħ, are the Lintorn Barracks, which were built in 1903. The barracks were named after Governor of Malta Gen Sir John Lintorn Simmons.

9. Interesting to note is that the Lintorn barracks were intended to house soldiers of Irish descent, while the English regiments were housed at Mtarfa; the soldiers were kept away as much as possible from each other so as to avoid brawling. This connection with the Irish is a possible reason why Floriana has green as its colour, while it certainly had an impact on the ancestry of the Floriana population, evident by their surnames.

10. The white tents were used by regiments in transit awaiting transport to other ports; these were a common sight in Floriana in those days and later also in Pembroke.

11. Beyond, notice the near complete bareness of the country, giving an unobstructed view up to the height of Naxxar and the Rabat area.

Photo and information by Joseph Piccinino. Written by Melanie Drury.

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.

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