Dr Peter J. Shield PhD, ARP is an award-winning photographer, retired archaeologist, broadcaster and author. Among his various assignments, he worked for Associated Press, for the Maltese Government Information Department and for the Times of Malta under Mabel Strickland.

In August 2019, he donated  to Heritage Malta around 350 negatives of photographs to form part of the National Collection. These photos were shot by him in Malta during the late 1950’s. This photo collection is a historical gem that covers several local themes, acting like a time capsule of days gone by.

Help us preserve the story of our nation. Get in touch via email: digitisation@heritagemalta.org

CHILDREN

Christopher Moore, an American writer of comic fantasy, wrote that “Children see magic because they look for it.” The enchanting world of children is captured in this selection of photos taken by Dr Peter J Shield in the late 1950s.

A group of children are playing in the area known as St George’s in Valletta. The context around them clearly identifies the place. The historical building in the background, with its unique architectural features, currently serves as the office of the Building Industry Consultative Collective (BICC). Up till the late 1940s, this location formed part of the Mandraggio and it looked much different. A model of the Mandraggio can be viewed at the National Museum of Ethnography housed within the Inquisitor’s Palace in Birgu. In 1947, the young architect Duminku Mintoff was entrusted with the Ministry of Public Works and Reconstruction and he decided to demolish the entire Mandraggio in order to replace it with modern social housing. Some inhabitants of the Mandraggio resisted strongly this idea, so much that Mintoff was personally threatened. Demolition works of the Mandraggio started in 1949 and blocks of new apartments started to be built. The photo taken in the late 1950’s is witness of this development. Can you recognise any of the children in this photograph?

Children are playing close to Marsamxetto Road in Valletta. The typical buildings in the background reveal the location perfectly, particularly the historical property known as House of Catalunya which currently serves as a government office. Looking closely at the children, you will notice they are well dressed. The boy at the forefront is sporting a beautiful watch. Do you know any of these children or what game they are playing?

These two photos have immortalised a moment of fun and happiness, possibly during Carnival celebrations. The children are very smartly dressed, and they seem to be accompanied by an older woman, maybe their teacher. Can you identify the place or any of the persons who appear in these images?

A group of children are dressed in traditional clothes dancing in the gardens of San Anton Palace. A closer look at photo 62217 will show that all the dancers are female, even the ones dressed in male clothes. On the left-hand side of this image, you can also notice a large pram which was typical in those times, a scooter and a tricycle. Have you any recollections of such entertainment and do you recognise any of the people showing in the photos?

Should you wish to get in contact with Heritage Malta to share any details about the photos, your stories or any photos of interest, kindly email digitisation@heritagemalta.org

ALL ABOUT MEN

Not all men are fathers and not all fathers are men. Next Sunday celebrates fatherhood but, in a way, it also celebrates all those men, whether fathers or not, who show up, who love, who mentor, who care.

This week’s selection of photos from the Shield Collection that was donated to Heritage Malta last year, puts the spotlight on different men who were immortalized by the photographer’s camera back in the late 1950s.

His wrinkled face is probably not only due to age but also the result of the long hours of work in the fields during the challenging summer season of these islands. Do you know this man? Can you identify the location of this photo?
The long boots and the rest of his attire indicate that he was a fisherman. Was he? Can you tell where this photo was taken?
It is curious to learn what was the relationship of these men to the others and what was their job. Who knows whether the writing on the wooden boxes on which these people are sitting might reveal some interesting information? Most of the boxes are marked as ‘Borg – Malta’. Others read as ‘Key Green’. One is marked ‘E.S.V’ while another box is stamped with a ‘Moretti Brand – Cheese Made in Italy from Sheep’s Milk’. Other engaging observations include the boy’s shirt which reads ‘Happy New Year’ despite being clearly summer wear, and the lovely hairstyle and elegant earrings of the girl on the far left. The landscape which shows in the background suggests that the photo was taken at Ta’ Pennellu in Mellieħa, looking out at the area known as L-Aħrax tal-Mellieħa.
The relaxed mood of these two says it all. Behind them, we can admire the Sliema promenade of the old days, including the beautiful gate leading to ‘The Chalet’ at Għar id-Dud. Until the early 1960s, ‘The Chalet’ was a very popular spot, particularly during the summer season when people could enjoy the open-air restaurant and dancefloor. Due to severe deterioration, this structure became unsafe and there are barely any traces of it nowadays. Yet, many enjoyable memories are certainly still alive in those who have been at this unique entertainment area. Do you have any recollections of it?
This bus driver is smelling a flower while sitting in his bus parked nearby Castille in Valletta. A woman is sitting behind him, waiting for the bus to leave. The building in the background clearly reveals the location but can you identify that tall structure which protrudes at the top?
The one at the far right is Dr Peter J. Shield, the photographer of the rest of the photos shown here. Can you recognize any of the other men? A pot of tea indicates that some of the men might be British. The location is Piazza Regina or Queen’s Square in Republic Street, Valletta. For the past couple of days, Queen Victoria’s monument which stands in this square, has been the talk of the town since some are suggesting its removal in view of it being a representation of a colonial past.

TRADES OF ANOTHER TIME

This week, the selection of photos from Heritage Malta’s Shield Collection dating to the late 1950s is focusing on traditional local trades that form a significant part of our intangible cultural heritage. The Agency is appealing to the public to share any information about the scenes showing in these images.

A Tribute to Gozitan Fishermen

Stepping up the Wine Barrels

Disappearing Trades

1958 Seaborne Operations in Malta

In military terms, D-Day marks the day on which a combat attack or a military operation is to begin. Next Saturday happens to be the 76th anniversary of one of the most popular D-Days during the Second World War. Code-named as Operation Neptune, the notable day of the 6th June 1944, initiated the Allied invasion of Normandy which began the liberation of German-occupied France. It is still remembered as the largest seaborne invasion in history.

General (later Field Marshal) Sir Bernard Montgomery (Viscount of Alamein) was the commander of the 21st Army Group which comprised all land forces involved in this invasion. This was one of the most complex military operations ever undertaken and yet Montgomery, nicknamed “Monty”, is said to have scribbled out his war plans on a single piece of paper. This sheet of paper with Montgomery’s writing was released for the first time in 2016 by the Imperial War Museums to mark the 72nd anniversary of the invasion.

Some of the photos in this week’s selection from the Shield Collection that was donated to Heritage Malta relate to Field Marshal Sir Bernard Montgomery. According to Dr Peter J. Shield PhD, ARP, who took these photos in 1958, these images were shot during some footage which was being filmed during Montgomery’s farewell visit in Malta before his retirement.

Loading at Portonovo

Jeeps loaded on LST 3516 (HMS Striker)
LST 3516 berthed at Portonovo
LST 3516 was a tank landing ship
LST 3516

Ready for ACTION!

Soldiers on barge preparing for LST 3516's arrival
Soldiers preparing to unload trucks
Unloading of trucks from LST 3516
Unloading of trucks from LST 3516 onto the beach
Filming of military manoeuvres taking place on the beach
Amphibious military tank (departure)
Amphibious military tank (at sea)
Amphibious military tank (back on land)

ROOFSCAPES

Initially, the fear of the COVID-19 pandemic shook populations right from their roots. The need to shut ourselves from the rest of the world seemed horrific if not tragic. Yet the ability of humanity’s ingenuity to find ways of surviving once the shock is over, is brilliantly captivating.

Although seemingly isolated in their houses, people found their way out on balconies and on rooftops. Away from the streets and yet close enough from a safe distance, people rediscovered these areas which up to some years ago used to serve as meeting points among neighbours and passers-by.

This week’s selection of photos from the Shield Collection that was donated to Heritage Malta focuses on roofscapes. The photos were shot by Dr Peter J. Shield PhD, ARP from various vantage points offered by churches in Malta and the Citadel in Gozo during the late 1950s.

Due to popular landmarks which are present in each of the photos, it is not difficult to recognise the locations. Besides their nostalgic value and their comparative potential, the beauty of such images is in the detail which good observers will perceive.

View from Mellieha Parish Church

View from the Cittadella

View from Hamrun Parish Church

View from Siggiewi Parish Church

HAPPY RETURN

After experiencing the hardships of war, people living in the 1950s had a deep eagerness to return to normal as well as a strong thirst for change. This week’s theme, HAPPY RETURN, focuses on places of entertainment and leisure.

Heritage Malta is curious to know whether any of the readers have ever been to any of these bars, cinemas, theatres, music halls and venues during the late 1950s. Do these entertainment places still exist? Do they still serve the same purpose or have they changed business? Do the readers have any memories about these entertainment spots which they would like to share? And the big question – can you identify someone in the photos?

Happy Return Bar

Chateau Buskett

Bar – Strait Street, Valletta?

Ħal Luqa

Catholic Institute

Manoel Theatre

Ħal Far

Rialto

STANDING READY

During the 1950s, all British men between the ages of 17 and 21 were required to serve for two years in the National Service. After the end of the Second World War, Britain’s world status was changing rapidly as one colony after another began to demand their independence.

The Empire was slowly fading into history and the threat of another war was still lingering in the air. It was no time to loosen up. The British forces needed to be prepared and adequately trained to defend their country. Many of the soldiers were sent to train at the remaining colonised countries, including Malta.

Among the collection of 350 photo negatives which were shot during the late 1950’s by Dr Peter J. Shield PhD, ARP and recently donated by him to Heritage Malta, we find intriguing traces of such times.

Entitled ‘Standing Ready’, this week’s theme focuses on teams of British soldiers during their military training in Malta, particularly at the bays of Għadira and Mistra.

Heritage Malta is encouraging you to engage with these photos by sharing any information which you might have about them. Do join in the fun!

Mistra Bay

Għadira Bay

MOTHERS

Memories of mothers of another time are captured in these photos dating to the late 1950s. Can you recall being with your mother in any of these places?

Can you help us identify where this photo was taken? Can you recognise the area? Click on the image below and leave your feedback in the comment section.

Can you help us identify where this photo was taken? Can you recognise the area? Click on the image below and leave your feedback in the comment section.

MEMORY LANE

When we take photos, we endow memories with a physical presence. Each time we look at an image, we are transported right back to that place or to that person at that particular moment in time. Yet the same photo might have a different meaning to each one of us.

Take a look at these images. Can you recognise any of the places or any of the people? Do share with us the stories which these photos can tell.

Can you help us identify where this photo was taken? Can you recognise the area? Click on the image and give us your feedback in the comment section.

Can you help us identify the exact location where this photo was taken? Click on the image and give us your feedback in the comment section.

28 APRIL 1958 RIOTS

Ħajr Malta Audiovisual Memories – Arkivji PBS

On 28 April 1958, the General Workers Union (GWU) ordered a national strike which was mainly caused by the bad social and working conditions of the working people. Matters worsened when the British Authorities closed the Malta Drydocks, thereby threatening the livelihood of more than 13,000 families. The Malta Labour Party joined the GWU in the demonstrations.

The strike started from early morning. Some streets in Valletta were barricaded by the Police, including the area around Castille and the Times of Malta, while protesters blocked the roads of some villages with huge stones, mainly to prevent the movement of British military vehicles.

Matters escalated when fighting ensued between protesters and the Police, the latter being also assisted by the British commandos, in Raħal Ġdid and Marsa. The worst incidents took place at ‘It-Telgħa ta’ Kordin’.

The day after, the British Government issued arrests to some of the protesters who were mainly GWU officials, MLP Ministers and supporters.

On 1st May 1958, Workers’ Day was celebrated at the Empire Stadium in Gżira, since it was prohibited from organising any events in Valletta.

MARKETPLACE

We were informed that this marketplace was located in Birkirkara.

Do you remember it?
Can you identify this location or any people showing in the photos?

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