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 silo.

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.

Information Provided By
Mr. John Walsh.

Print Page | Back