The Malta Independent 25 August 2019, Sunday

Birzebbuga’s Saint George Redoubt in for a restoration

Tuesday, 23 July 2019, 15:55 Last update: about 2 months ago

Minister for Justice, Culture and Local Government Owen Bonnici yesterday visited the Saint George Redoubt, which will be undergoing restoration works by the Restoration Directorate.

The redoubt is in for a restoration through to the Local Council Restoration Works Scheme.

During yesterday’s visit, Bonnici made reference to the ongoing restoration works by the Directorate, which greatly assist in the conservation of our local heritage.  “This restoration project in Birżebbuġa is possible thanks to the Local Council Restoration Works Scheme, whereby local councils can apply to restore historic local monuments or buildings, which can be greatly appreciated by all, whilst also strengthening our cultural product. The call is now in its 5th year, and contributes greatly to our National Agenda’s Strategy for Culture and Heritage.”

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There are areas in the stones of the redoubt, which are suffering from damage such as powdering and exfoliation. This type of deterioration is mostly visible throughout the external wall. The redoubt is directly on the sea front and thus, most areas are powdered due to salt migration with rising damp and sea spray. Most of the areas of the redoubt’s façade are exhibiting extensive deterioration with present stones exhibiting back weathering of the globigerina.

Mortar joints within the façade of the redoubt have all failed, thus the joints are open and no or very little mortar is still present. This is creating larger problems as stone blocks have become loose and water can penetrate in the mazkan layer behind.  The redoubt also has a biological layer and stains on the superior slope and the cordon and on the parapet wall as well.

The interventions which will be carried out through this project will include the cleaning of the façade and the removal of biological growth. Existing mortar joints will be removed, flushed with clean water, and repointed. Decayed stone will be cut back and replaced by the best quality stones from selected quarries. The dimensions of the new stone must be identical to the existing ones. Sculptural and decorative stonework will be replaced using appropriate templates.

The Saint George Redoubt is one of a series of coastal fortifications around the Maltese Islands and was built in 1714-1716 by the Order of Saint John. It was built on the site of a cemetery and incorporated the Chapel of Saint George, from where it got its name. Apart from being the only Hospitalier redoubt incorporating a church, it is also rather unusual due to its semi-circular shape, while most redoubts are pentagonal.

The Local Council Restoration Works Scheme, is issued in collaboration with the Local Government Division. The 5th call of this scheme is currently open for local councils. Applications close on 30 August.

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