Source: Proceedings of History Week. (1981)(110-111)
Organised by the author for the Historical Society, 6th to 14th Nov. 1981.
At the beginning of 1981, it was decided by the Committee to organize an exhibition on the History of Transport in Malta. The organizer announced it in local papers on 5th May, 1981, and asked for any cooperation from the public. There were no replies to this, and only one from a member who received the March 181 circular with the same announcements and appeals. On 1st August, the organizer sent out 22 forms to individuals known to possess material for information suitable for inclusion in the proposed exhibition, but only four replied. The material offered was inspected, but although quite suitable, it consisted only of single items, mostly photographs, six models and other ephermera, hardly enough to mount an exhibition in the 530 square feet of boards and showcase frontage. It was decided to go ahead with the idea and the organizer continued with researches in libraries, museums, collections and personal miscellania, but the problem always remained that of visual material, as distinct from mere information. It became therefore necessary to take more photographs, paint, draw and map numerous other aspects of transport history, and to make the exhibition attractive to a wide range of age and educational background. It was also decided to make 48 new scale models based on museum specimens, photographs and other reliable sources. The models were started in July and continued up to the eve of the inauguration. By mid-October it was possible to plan a complete catalogue of all the 353 single items to be exhibited. Apart from seven boards loaned by the Natural History Society, all other boards and cases were planned and made by the organizer designed to be easily dismantled and transported, as it was difficult to obtain other to suit our purposes.
The exhibition was inaugurated on the 6th November, 1981 by Mr Anthony Miceli Farrugia, and blessed by the Rt. Rev. Archdeacon Mons. Carmelo Xuereb, Vicar General, at the Annexe of St John's Co-Cathedral, Valletta.
The exhibits consisted of photographs, sketches, maps, photographs of original
documents, models, postcards, reproductions of lithographs and engravings, tickets
and other objects relevant to the subject.
Items were arranged in a combination of chronological and sectional sequences starting with prehistoric means of transport down to the present times, but at the same time conveniently arranged in sections devoted to [p.111] particular topics, as transport of the dead and the sick, the railway, the tram, the buses, carriages and cabs and carts for pleasure and trade, besides transport between Malta and Gozo, and other aspects.
The exhibits were contributed as follows: Mt Louis Tortell fourteen items, including photographs, some train tickets etc; National War Museum, 17 photographs of old buses, etc; Mr Michael Ellul, B.E.& A., A.& C.E., photographs, postcards photos; Mr S. Felice Pace, 5 models; Mr Richard Cannataci, 3items concerning the tram; Mr J. Pulé, a scale model of No. 1 railway engine. The other 282 items were contributed by the organizer and included tickets, models, postcards, photographs, photocopies, reproductions, painting, maps, publications, etc.
The exhibition proved a great success, and was visited by thousands, ranging from children who had never before seen the coloured buses, to old people who had used the train and tram. It was also visited by many students from private and government schools, and served to instil interest in this unique heritage. It was also instrumental in bringing new material to light.
Press coverage was adequate and reference. Mostly illustrated, can be found in The Times (28-10-81, 7-11-81, 12-11-81); in-Taghna (20-10-81, 24-10-81); il-Hajja (22-10-81, 10-11-81); The Sunday Times (25-10-81); Lehen is-Sewwa (12-12-81); it-Torca (10-1-82), besides other minor references. Cable Radio broadcast two interviews in the feature Harsa Lejn, (3-11-81, 12-11-81), and Malta Television reported the exhibition in the News Bulletin on 6-11-81, and featured it in Malta u lil hinn Minnha (12-11-81).
The organizer wishes to acknowledge the help given by the Rt. Rev. Cathedral Chapter for the loan of the annexe of St John's Co-Cathedral, Mons. G. Calleja, deputy to the Chapter, Dr F.J. D'Amato for allowing photographing of the railway wagon in his possession, Mr Louis Tortell for printing and enlarging all necessary photographs free of Charge The Society for the Study and Conservation of Nature (formerly Natural History Society of Malta) for load of boards, The Youth Travel Circle for loan of a book stand, the exhibitors, the invigilators and particularly Mr J. Grima, Hon, Secretary of the Historical Society for continued help.
Fig. 1 (4) History Week Exhibition: Scale Models by Mr Guido Lanfranco of various means of transport.
Fig. 2 (5) History Week Exhibition: Detail of exhibits.