A general photo of Dock No. 1
Dock No. 1
The history of the Grand Harbour and shipping goes way back in time.
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Excavations on the shore have revealed megalithic (Phoenicians) remains, indicating the use of the port for 3700 years before Christ. Punic and Roman remains have also been found. Cestrum Maris / Castello del Mare was built around the 12th and 13th centuries, a defended area which is now Fort St. Angelo, which has become Birgu.
In that period the ships came from the house of Anjou to Malta and were stationed in Cestrum Maris. Repair to galleys could take place here.
In 1530 this area became home to the Knights of St. John and Birgu became the new capital of Malta. In 1776 the construction of a shipyard was started.
During the British period, William Scamp was sent to Malta in 1841 to design a dry dock facility in the Grand Harbour, which, given Malta's strategic location, was an important strong British naval base. He chose the city of Cospicua, now part of "The Three Cities".
After the demolition of historic buildings, the foundation stone was laid on 28 June 1844 and with the entry of a British warship on 5 September 1848, the dock was inaugurated.
The design of the dock and the associated buildings is symmetrical and practical. Along the dock the facades are built opposite each other, identical to each other. Behind the facades were workshops, etc. Everything that was needed for the shipping industry. A foundry and forge were also in the area. The dry dock was fenced.
The economy of Cospicua consisted of fishing and trade but changed to services to ships and repair thereof.
During the Crimean War (1853-1856) and the First World War (1914 and 1918) the shipyard was of considerable importance. The dock was enlarged in 1921.
The area was bombed considerably during the Second World War. In January 1941 there was an attack by 60 German bombers in an attempt to destroy the already damaged aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious, one bomb hit the target and further damaged the ship.
In 1979 the naval base was closed and in the period 1979-1996 the dock was used for repairs of various civil ships.
The area was rehabilitated in 2014 and the two sides at the front of the dock are equipped with a steel bridge.
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