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Report - Cold War Underground Flour Mills, Malta - November 2015

Discussion in 'European and International Sites' started by Bertie Bollockbrains, Nov 17, 2015.

  1. Bertie Bollockbrains

    Bertie Bollockbrains 28DL Regular User
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    Some of you may remember that I got excited in September with my discovery of the existence of 8 Cold War era underground flour mills in the Maltese Islands. So excited in fact, that I recently traveled to Malta just for the purpose of visiting as many of these underground mills as possible.

    Well the location of all of them have now been visited by myself. Now know that it’s only 7 different locations, of which six are on Malta Island and one is on Gozo Island. The 8th mill is due to the one at Siggiewi holding two mills. It was only possible to enter at two of the locations. Entry into a third would be possible if I had some climbing equipment with me (hint hint any takers out there?). One mill is complety destroyed.


    HISTORY

    The Second World War emphasized the vulnerability of the Maltese Islands to aerial bombandment and the difficulty to get essential supplies to Malta. In fact the authorities were considering surrendering because of the acute shortage of food which bought the inhabitants to near starvation. It was only the miraculous arrival of some of the ships of the Santa Marija convoy in August 1942 that changed the situation. (I recommend anyone to read up on the story of the SS Ohio which was bought limping and sinking into Grand Harbour tethered to two British warships)

    After the war, Malta was once again threatened with the prospect of another European war, this time made even more fearsome by the possible use of nuclear weapons.

    Therefore Civil defence planning began to take place. The British Colonial Office took the decision to build underground flour mills in the Maltese Islands. The flour mills were built between 1950 and 1954.

    These flour mills were built far away from the Grand Harbour and the airfields of Luqa and Ta’Qali. The entrance to each flour mill faced north in order to minimise the effect of any nuclear blast coming from the Grand Harbour.

    They are completely dug into the rocks – a tunnel about 30 metres long, 2.5 metres high and 3 metres wide, leading to the first underground chamber split onto three levels. This contains the machinery that was meant to handle the final process of the milling – the production of 3 separate products: flour, bran and offal. The chamber is approximately 11 metres below ground level.

    Obviously as an emergency facility, it was important that each mill was self-sufficient and for this purpose, an 80hp diesel engine and alternator was located in the lower chamber. Each mill had an underground silo capacity of some 1000 tons of wheat.

    REPORT

    1 – MGARR (SAN MARTIN)

    Locked, but climb up the hillside and we see the hatches that would have fed the underground wheat silo. One of those hatches opens. A long abseil would gain entry.

    [​IMG]

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    2 – MGARR (TA’ MREJANU)

    Locked, said to be in use as an underground store

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    3 – MELLIEHA

    No trace remains, underground garages are seen. Behind the garages the Pergola hotel has it’s basement indoor swimming pool here.

    [​IMG]


    4 – SAN GWANN

    Locked, allegedly a permission visit is possible by kindly pestering the local council

    [​IMG]

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    5 – XLENDI

    The only one that is on Gozo Island. Locked, restored by volunteers and open about one day a year to the public.


    6 – SIGGIEWI (Visited with @The devil child)

    The largest flour mill, the entrance tunnel forks into two and there are two underground mills here. The righthand one is sadly trashed. Lefthand mill is worthwhile. Only going to put a couple of photos up, as this one is documented in The Devil Child’s excellent report.

    [​IMG]

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    7 – XEMXIJA (Visited with The Devil Child)

    Was recently restored, and occasionally opened to the public, but we think it hasn’t been opened to the public since 2010. On our visit, whilst it was obvious that it had been restored, it was showing signs of neglect and decay again.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    We start on the middle floor of the three levels:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Then the lowest floor:
    [​IMG]

    And finally the upper floor:
    [​IMG]

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    At the back, a tunnel leads to the 1000 ton capacity underground wheat silo, note the use of the Archimedes Screw machine to bring wheat to the mill from the silo
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Detail of the Peter-Fielding diesel generator
    [​IMG]

    Milling machinery was built by Thomas Robinson of Rochdale
    [​IMG]

    Very old fire extinguisher
    [​IMG]



    Thanks for reading and remember there’s a third mill for the taking if anyone is willing to abseil down that shaft.
     
    #1 Bertie Bollockbrains, Nov 17, 2015
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2015
    urblex, Palisade, Coolboyslim and 5 others like this.

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  2. Bugsuperstar

    Bugsuperstar Irresponsible & Reckless
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    Looks good mate.
     
  3. obscurity

    obscurity Flaxenation of the G!!!
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    nice one. Good effort :thumb
     
  4. Will Knot

    Will Knot 28DL Regular User
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    Like it fella.... might be going to Malta soon!!! ;)
     
  5. pauln

    pauln too old to be reckless
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    Great research to come up with this. I'd focussed on military on my visits to Malta. Would never have thought about underground flour mills.
     
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