Stqarrija bil-Malti Agħfas Hawn / Press Release in Maltese Click Here

Heritage Malta has just launched a publication offering unique insight into one of Malta’s most iconic industries – the Malta Dockyard, through its famed skilled craftsmen’s own words.

Over the past four years, more than 200 hours of memories from ex-Dockyard workers have been carefully documented by Heritage Malta’s Digitisation Unit, as part of the agency’s biggest intangible heritage project to date. The first 100 recordings are now being presented in this publication, entitled ‘The Dockyard from the Workers’ Perspective – 100 Interviews’.

Its contributors have poured their hearts out in these recorded narrations of their days working amidst the clamour of the workshops and in the depths of the docks, as part of a whole community of men with skills of every shape and form, who challenged death daily. Snippets from each interview, which can also be enjoyed fully by scanning a QR code, interlaced with a myriad of donated precious photos and other national collection items, introduce the reader into the Dockyard world, welded by a deep sense of brotherhood.

The book, however, has much more in store. Lesser known facts, such as that women too walked the Malta Dockyard’s grounds, and quirky curiosities drawing a common line between seemingly unrelated cohorts such as the cast-iron lamp posts at Castille Square and Senglea’s beloved Jesus the Redeemer statue, amongst others, promise a tantalisingly enjoyable experience whilst flipping its pages.

The publication was launched during a special private event at the Malta Maritime Museum in Birgu, in the presence of the interviewees. The museum is currently housing an extensive display on the Malta Dockyard as part of its recently launched state-of-the-art, immersive exhibition ‘An Island at the Crossroads’, confirming intangible heritage as no less of a treasure trove than tangible heritage.

Anthony Cassar, Head of Heritage Malta’s Technology and Experience Development Unit, remarked that digitising cultural heritage ensures preservation and accessibility, as it safeguards both tangible and intangible artefacts for the future, and the use of digital platforms enables remote exploration, fostering appreciation across diverse communities for continued relevance.

Joseph Meli, a dedicated Heritage Malta volunteer and former Malta Dockyard commercial manager, mentioned that the aim of Heritage Malta’s Digitisation Unit is to extend beyond the 100 interviews conducted which, although worthy, represent only a small sample of the many workers still alive from the Dockyard. The milestone aimed for is 200 interviews.

Kenneth Gambin, Heritage Malta’s Chief Operations Officer, quoted and stressed that he fully agrees with the words carved on a memorial at the entrance to the Dockyard: “The worker who through work creates, never dies”, because when people take their last breath and become part of history, they leave behind a legacy – not only of objects, but also the intangible value of remembrances. This Heritage Malta project is intended precisely so that these memories are never lost.

This publication may be purchased from any Heritage Malta museum or site, and online here

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