The Malta Independent 21 March 2023, Tuesday
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PA funds new educational centre on footprint of former Attard railway station

Thursday, 2 February 2023, 08:22 Last update: about 3 months ago

The community of Attard will soon benefit from a new cultural and educational centre which is being built on the original footprint and recalling past proportions of the former railway station at Gnien L-Istazzjon in Attard, the Planning Authority said.

This centre, which is being financed by the PA and the European Regional and Development Fund, will not only enhance the visitors’ experience to this public open space but will serve as a reminder of the Malta railway line, part of which still exists close to this garden. The Educational Centre for which the PA will be financing close to €200,000 through its Development Planning Fund (DPF) will include a library, reading area and public convenience facilities.

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The building will be finished in fair-faced limestone and white ender, with timber and aluminium glazed apertures. A wrought iron canopy will be installed in front of the building to recall the late nineteenth century station building which served to provide shelter to waiting passengers over the front part of the platform. Ġnien l-Istazzjon was the principal train station for Attard village forming part of the Malta Railway system (Il-Vapur ta' l-Art) which operated between 1883 and 1931.

The station building was reportedly destroyed during the Second World War. Oliver Magro Executive Chairperson of the Planning Authority said “this project will not only enhance the public open space of Gnien l-Istazzjon but will resourceful serve to help us recall our past heritage and link it with our future.”

Magro added that “the Authority supported this project holistically. Back in 2020, the PA contributed over €145,000 to partially fund the restoration and conservation of the almost 400metres Attard embankmentstructure which is a substantial survivor of the Malta railway line. Besides the remaining former railway stations and tunnels, this engineered structure, is no doubt, the most important surviving architecture associated with Malta’s transportation heritage.” Mr Magro commended the vision and work of the Attard local council that is responsible for the implementation of this project.

The Minister for Public Works and Planning Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi said that this project can be considered another example of how funds from the Development Planning Fund (DPF) are being used to beautify this space. Minister Zrinzo Azzopardi said, "it is a pleasure for me to see such initiatives by the Local Councils so that, with the help of these funds, we can continue to look after another part of our heritage.”

The minister ended his speech by saying that he looks forward to more similar projects that continue to renew the Government's work in favour of the conservation of cultural and environmental heritage and the wise and structured use of public funds. Parliamentary Secretary for European Funds Chris Bonett said that this project is being done with an investment of €747,000, of which €514,000, are EU funds from the European Regional Development Fund 2020.

Bonett said that this is an important project with the aim of offering a more competitive cultural tourist product within the urban core of the Three historic Villages. Attard Mayor Mr Stefan Cordina said “this garden contains beautiful memories of the Railway Station and therefore it was appropriate to have a tangible symbol of a transport system that unfortunately was taken away from us because of the war.

This ambitious project which is now at an advanced stage has the potential to become a space where locals and tourists alike may learn more about the rich cultural assets and stories that the localities of Ħ'Attard, ĦalLija and Ħal-Balzan have and share in common.”

The Malta Railway was inaugurated on the 28th February 1883. The line started from Valletta to the old capital city of Mdina at a length of nearly 7 miles. There were six stations along the route which were Valletta, Hamrun, Birkirkara, Attard, Rabat and Mtarfa. The railway passenger train made its last journey on the 31st March 1931. END. 02nd February 2023

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