The Malta Independent 22 July 2019, Monday

The abandoned fort at Selmun

Kevin Schembri Orland Monday, 1 April 2019, 11:40 Last update: about 5 months ago

We Maltese are very proud of our heritage, our rich history and breath-taking views. There is no doubt that our ancestors left us many gems - sites that can literally take our breath away.

While many of these sites are well taken care of - such as the Auberges in Valletta, the whole of Mdina, the hypogeum - to name just a few - others have been abandoned and left to the elements.

One such place is Fort Campbell, just down the road from Selmun Palace on the outskirts of Mellieħa. While it is nowhere near as old as many of Malta's historical buildings,  it is nevertheless in a most picturesque location, with the surrounding fields acting as the perfect place for nature-lovers and walkers to spend a day exploring. While still popular with those living nearby, the site is degrading and is, in effect, abandoned and the buildings are obviously in a dangerous condition.

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Fort Campbell, built by the British, offers some stunning views of St Paul's Island, and the surrounding area is popular for a day out. Visitors can view Selmun Palace - built in the 18th century - from the outside, visit the British coastal fort and then head for a walk along the plateau leading down to Mistra Bay.

Fort Campbell dates back to the last years of the 1930s, when the clouds of World War II were already gathering on the horizon. It was the last major British fort to be built in Malta and, with a number of coastal guns and other defences, its main function was to protect the island against attacks from the sea. The Fort has Grade 1 scheduled protection, meaning that it has the highest form of protection in Malta.

Evidence of vandalism can be seen inside the fort and the surrounding barracks, and the rooms themselves are far too dangerous to venture into. The observation post at the centre of the fort has caved in, and the underground passageways are definitely not safe.

However, the location definitely has potential. If it is repaired and taken care of, the fort could make a unique and safe site for more families to visit, and could potentially become quite a significant tourist attraction.

Mellieħa Mayor John Buttigieg, speaking with The Malta Independent on Sunday, said that he does not know of any plans on the part of the authorities regarding the fort. He said: "The site is very derelict. There are some parts that can be restored, but I'm not too sure how possible this would be for other areas.

The fort itself can be kept, but I think that a lot of the barrack rooms are beyond repair."

Mr Buttigieg said that Mellieħa Council has asked the authorities to look into the possibility of carrying out repairs in the area, adding that: "A decision needs to be taken."

There is also, said the Mayor, a safety issue. The state of some of the buildings within the fort are quite dangerous, and a hole in the centre of the fort down to an underground area could also pose a danger. In addition, there is also some construction waste in the area that needs to be cleared, he said.

 "It is our wish that this place be taken care of and protected," he said. "If a decision needs to be taken, then it should be taken quickly, so that the present condition of the fort does not deteriorate further. It is a beautiful area and has great potential." 

Photos by Alenka Falzon

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