Fort St Angelo’s ship mast taken down for maintenance

The Royal Naval ship mast at Fort St Angelo has been dismantled by Heritage Malta in collaboration with the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. The operation involved months of assessment in order to find the best way how to carry out the exercise, considering that the historic mast has never been taken down for maintenance since the Royal Navy left the Fort in 1979.

The wooden shipmast of Fort St Angelo dates back to the early 20th century. Erected following the acquisition of the Fort by the Admiralty in 1906, it has since been an iconic landmark of the historic stronghold. It served three purposes: flying the Royal Naval Ensign as Fort St Angelo was a naval shore establishment until 1979; used for the manoeuvring of shipping within the Grand Harbour, and special shapes were used to display weather forecasts. Another similar shipmast was located on top of Lascaris Bastion in Valletta, but was removed following the closure of the British Base in 1979. Fort St Angelo’s shipmast is therefore the last surviving example in the Maltese Islands.

The signs of deterioration were quite evident at the foot of the pole and thus Heritage Malta’s technical team had to fabricate and adopt a new system on which the pole could be pivoted. Two manual winches were fitted on the lower level at the tip of the Fort and these were used to hoist down the pole backwards. The operation took two hours to complete.

A thorough condition assessment of the pole and its fittings will be carried out in the coming weeks. Conservation and restoration works will then commence. The ship mast will be reinstated in its original location once all the required works are completed.

 

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