The cost of saving the St Paul’s Pro-Cathedral iconic structure and spire in Valletta has doubled to more than €7 million, according to the Save the Valletta Skyline committee.
Deep expert analysis and scrutiny of the structure and fabric of the tower, spire and roof which has been possible over the last 18 months since the appeal was launched found that the restoration efforts needed were much more substantial than originally expected.
Major regeneration work will include the restoration of the roof and ceiling to its former Victorian glory, the timber structure inside the tower, installation of disabled access to the church and Undercroft, as well as several ecological environmental improvements.
Speaking at a press conference held at the Cathedral’s recently restored Undercroft, co-chairman of the Save Valletta Skyline appeal Martin Scicluna said that over €1 million had been raised privately to date and an application had been made for a further €5 million in EU funding. Restoration works are expected to begin shortly.
Loss of stone-work at the top corner of the tower in 1943
following a shell strike. Photo: Australian War Memorial
Among the hundreds of private donors, there are Prince Charles and billionaire theatrical producer Sir Cameron Mackintosh – who owns a home in Valletta. Some €1.2 million has also already been received in EU funding, but substantial sums are still required to achieve the new campaign target of over €7 million.
Mr Scicluna said: “The project to restore the Cathedral aims to contribute significantly to the regeneration of the area by turning it into a thriving and attractive communal and tourism centre.
“It seeks to be the social hub not just for the Cathedral’s congregation, but also for the local community, related groups and third party users for a range of activities from musical concerts to meetings and exhibitions, lectures and seminars.”
Mr Scicluna said the committee will hold a briefing session for Valletta residents this evening as part of its Good Neighbour strategy to update them on the project, as well as provide them with an overview of the works which will begin once all the required permits are in hand.
The project is being overseen by leading Maltese architectural firm Architecture Project (AP). The firm’s founding partner, Konrad Buhagiar, said:
“This is a very complex and exciting project, the first major restoration project on the Cathedral and its spire since its construction in the early 19th Century. AP is honoured to contribute to saving Valletta’s iconic skyline and to ensure its survival into the future. Moreover, people living close to the Cathedral will be able to enjoy the communal benefits that this regeneration project will bring.”