Malta Maritime History
The Maritime Museum charts Malta’s maritime history within a Mediterranean context and also illustrates the global nature of seafaring and its impact on society. The Museum is situated within the former British Naval Bakery in Vittoriosa. The building was erected between 1842 and 1845 on the site of the old covered slipway of the Knights of St John.
The bakery was the hub of the Victualling Yard and supplied the Royal Navy with its daily requirements of bread and biscuits. After World War II it was converted into offices and stores and as the headquarters of the Admiralty Constabulary. The building remained part of the naval establishment up to the closure of the British base in 1979.
At the entrance of the Museum, one may view the ‘Anadrian Hall’ which exhibits the engine room machinery of the Anadrian, which was a steam- driven grab dredger built in 1951 for Malta. The first floor houses a display on the Merchant Navy and exhibits a collection of detailed ship replicas and paintings illustrating 19th and 20th century vessels most of which served on the Malta run. The nearby St Angelo Hall, the museum’s events and lecture room, is decorated with an array of colourful ship badges.
Organised into thematic and chronological sectors, the Main Hall illustrates developments from ancient times to the end of the rule of the Order of St John in Malta. Navigational charts, nautical instruments and a series of portraits set the scene for the navy of the Order of St John. This display includes paintings, weapons, uniforms, anchors, maps, models and other artefacts dating from 1530 to 1798. An entire room is dedicated to traditional Maltese sea crafts and other objects that indicate popular traditions and Malta’s long-standing maritime vocation. In the Customs Hall there is a variety of standard weights and measures and other objects, including the uniform of an inspector of Marine Police, which bear witness to the importance of Malta’s historic links with maritime commerce and traffic.
For almost two hundred years, Malta was the home of the British Mediterranean fleet. The Royal Navy kept a vast establishment on the Maltese Islands. The final hall presents an overview of Malta as a naval base, and depicts aspects of naval and civilian life, both leisure and work. There is also a wide collection of paintings, photographs, models, uniforms, weapons, instruments and other artefacts that illustrate the history of the Royal Navy in the Mediterranean during the 19th and 20th centuries and attest to the Navy’s impact on the economy and social life on the Maltese islands.