Source: Melita Historica. 9(1986)3(245-246)

[p.245] Fr Magri and Conservation : a Postscript

Salv. Mallia

After the publication of my article in Melita Historica, Vol. IX, No.2, a great number of files were brought over to the Palace Archives from Fort St Elmo. I had previously been informed that the relevant files were not kept there. This further information is appended to footnotes in the first article.

P.146, FN. 9:

“... no antiquities of any description were discovered there.” Adm. Supt’s L 73/1901 dated 10/5/01. (Naval 14700/01).

P. 153, FN. 42:

According to the new designation of PWD volumes, the references are as follows: Caruana Report, PW 300, pp. 365-7; setting up of Committee, PW 112, Fol. 28; Committee Report, PW 301, p. 87; transfer of Hassaflieni lands to the Government, PW 117, fol. 17ff and 311.

P.154, FN. 45:

M. laid down the following conditions: (1) “That an experienced, trustworthy and educated Overseer or Caretaker be appointed to work under my supervision.” He proposed Mr Anthony Doublet, then “temporarily attached” to the PWD; he “can take notes and plans, can draw and correspond with me.” M. considered “these qualifications necessary.” (2) He should go over to Malta “as often as necessary and convenient to direct the works and to prepare materials for the description of the place.” (3) If prevented from leaving Gozo by his duties (as Rector of the Seminary when his presence was required at the Hypogeum, he should “direct the Overseer to suspend that particular work” “and remit it to another time.” (4) He would give notice in time if appointed abroad for permanent duty (not at all likely at that time). He also requested the Government “to have the water pumped out from the Hypogeum and to provide that no smoking lights be taken down therein. Care should be taken not to remove at present the mud or the earth. Dampness impairs the painting on the walls and mud or loose earth may contain small articles belonging to the tombs.” (Misc. 3965/03).

P.155, FN. 50:

Cf. also Misc. 808/04. On 26 April the SPW noted that “Dr T. Zammit, whom I have seen on the subject informs me that he has visited the place and that he is satisfied with the works we are doing in the Catacombs.” (Ibid.).

P. 155, FN. 51:

Quoted from M’s L of 20/4/04. (Misc. 808/04).

P. 155, FN. 56:

The SPW wrote that “The water may be bailed out and a shaft may be sunk at the further end of the lower storey;” the expense was estimated at about £23. He also suggested where the shaft for ventilation (at a cost of about £9) might be made. The LG agreed and added, “It is desirable that the work shd. be carried out, if possible, before the rainy season sets in.” (Misc. 3406/06).


(FN. 68 cont)

At the beginning of December Mr Psaila suspended the PWD’s works in Catacomb St and Hassaflieni St and later demanded a compensation of £30 to allow the work to proceed, because these streets were “his property” and he “would not transfer them to the Government when they are repaired according to law.” “The greater portion” of these works, consisting “in a ventilating shaft, a vent hole, and the draining of this vent hole by means of a line of 3 pipes... carried out under the level of the street, and, when completed, would cause no inconvenience to Mr Psaila, “had already been carried out.” (SPW’s L 6597 of 13/12/06) Asked for advice, the Crown Advocate contended that these works were “connected with the preservation of the monument, and may therefore be considered works of public utility,” and consequently Mr Psaila had “no right to compensation.” (Works 4618/06).

P.157, FN. 68:

The 9 plates to be appended to the Report “cannot be made in Malta... I propose to order these plates abroad and to get the prints from them ready to be attached to the report. This will diminish considerably the expenses and besides I can also be sure of getting what I want,” TZ wrote on 11/12/06. The LG gave his approval two days later. (Misc. 4432/06). The Report was printed by May 1908. (TZ’s L 46/1908 of 16/5/08). The plates cost £12.12.2, the printing and binding £5. (Cur. 1701/08).

P. 164, FN. 109:

See also Judl. 38/09 for the Crown Advocate’s interesting comments on his drafting the Antiquities Ordinance.

P. 169, FN. 134:

On 5 April TZ received a letter from Fr Provincial “promising to look into Fr Magri’s papers & books with a view to transmitting whatever belonged to the Museum & also any papers having reference to Maltese History,” but no further communication was received. (Misc. 1082/07). When Fr Provincial was in Gozo at the end of April 1907 the LG told TZ to write to him, and if he came to Malta “to see him personally.” (Govt 1404/07). No further information is available.

P. 169, FN. 137:

The LG noted that M. “was an archaeologist of considerable repute, & by his death Malta suffers a great loss.” The Governor concurred and added, “I saw the notice of his death with very great regret; but when he came to see me in December last, I felt sure that he was in a very precarious state of health.” (Misc. 1082/07).