About 50 years ago,
with the Cold War escalating, it became evident that nuclear
conflict in Europe was a possibility. In the event of the
lines of communication being cut, the British Colonial Office
took a decision to build several underground flour mills
in the Maltese islands, which would give the local population
at least a staple diet of bread, should other sources of
food be denied to them. Of the eight underground mills built,
only one was located on Gozo, in the village of Ix-Xlendi.
During the years 1954/1955, the Ix-Xlendi mill was excavated
into the cliffs, situated behind the Mount Carmel church.
The excavation was a huge undertaking, which consisted firstly
of an entrance tunnel, some 30 meters long, 2.5 meters high
and 3 meters wide, leading into a large chamber. This chamber
was divided into three floors and housed the storage, grinding
and milling equipment.
At the rear of the mill
is the silo, having a storage capacity of approximately
1,000 tons of wheat, and connected to the milling machinery
by mechanical augers. An 80hp diesel engine and alternator
supplied power. Entrances from above can also access the
Il-Munxar Local Council had the wisdom and foresight to see the cultural
importance of this site. Although only 50 years old, as
with many things in this throwaway society, it could have
disappeared, or been left forgotten. Most of the other Maltese
sites have been dismantled and lost forever. Il-Munxar Local Council has begun a plan to restore this flour mill and
open it for the general public to view.
This mill was supplied
and installed by a British company, Thomas Robinson of Rochdale,
England, which subsequently ceased operation in 1989. The
Council is interested to hear from anyone who has information,
or who worked on the mills of Malta in the 1950’s.
Mr. John Walsh.