Pictured above: International heritage and museums advisor Mr Tim Ambrose addressing the participants during the conference on Malta’s industrial heritage and its future. Also in the picture (from left) Simonds Farsons Cisk plc Company Secretary, Ms Antoinette Caruana, The Farsons Foundation Chairman, Mr Bryan A. Gera, Simonds Farsons Cisk plc Chairman, Mr Louis A. Farrugia, Minister for Tourism, Culture and the Environment, Dr Mario de Marco, Dean of the Faculty for the Built Environment at the University of Malta, Professor Alex Torpiano
A conference on how Malta’s industrial heritage can add value to the islands’ cultural tourism was held today at The Brewery of Simonds Farsons Cisk plc in Mriehel. Entitled: “Approaches to Industrial Heritage in Malta: What works?”, the one-day conference aimed to highlight important aspects of Malta’s industrial past, its general appreciation and its significance for future generations.
The conference was organised by The Farsons Foundation in collaboration with the Department of Built Heritage, Faculty for the Built Environment at the University of Malta.
In his opening address, the Farsons Foundation’s Chairman Mr Bryan A. Gera said: “Industrial heritage existed in all phases of human development from the time of the Industrial Revolution – in mid 18th century. The achievements and grandiose constructions which started off in that era set off a momentum which carries on unabated to this day.”
“Farsons is counted among the pioneers of industrialisation in Malta. It is therefore quite fitting that the distinguished audience is convened today in what is referred as Farsons’ ‘Old Boardroom’ where part of the industrial heritage we enjoy today was decided upon in the late 1940s,” continued Mr Gera.
The keynote speaker was Mr Timothy Ambrose, an international specialist in cultural destination development and cultural heritage management. Mr Ambrose outlined a range of factors that create value from industrial heritage assets. He said that the future of our historical and economic heritage depends on a number of factors, such as securing funds for sustainable preservation, reviewing existing policies and priorities for the care and conservation, and improving public understanding of the value of historical heritage.
Mr Ambrose said: “Industrial history is an important part of cultural history. People value it for its intrinsic and instrumental values. Today’s conference could serve as an issue for discussion in relation to Malta’s National Strategy for Cultural Heritage, the Cultural Heritage Inventory and MEPA’s scheduled sites.”
The Dean of the Faculty for the Built Environment at the University of Malta Professor Alex Torpiano thanked the Farsons Foundation for taking the leading role in organising this conference – a first in Malta. He explained the identity of industrial heritage. “Industrial heritage is not only a history of architecture but encompasses machines, and the buildings in which they were housed, as well as the fabric of a changing society. It is that which a past generation has preserved and handed to the present and which a significant group of the population wishes to hand to the future. The building we are in is an example of this process.”
“As can be seen, the industrial heritage, in this case, is therefore not just the façade of the building, but the whole building, with its construction process and materials it was built with, the drawings specifying how it was to be constructed, as well the whole brewing processes contained within it. Preservation of heritage needs to facilitate the telling of a story, so that the whole point of preservation is widely understood,” added Prof Torpiano.
A panel discussion on how to repair, restore and reuse Malta’s industrial past was held with the participation of a number of professionals and organisations that are pioneering industrial heritage in Malta. The panel consisted of Prof Robert Ghirlando from the Faculty of Engineering; Mr James Licari, President Malta Association of Professional Conservator-Restorers (MASPCo-Re); Mr Joseph Magro Conti, Heritage Planning Unit Manager at MEPA’s Planning Directorate; Mr Ray Polidano, Director General of Malta Aviation Museum Foundation and Mr Godwin Vella, Senior Curator Ethnography at Heritage Malta. The debate was chaired by Prof JoAnn Cassar, Head Department of Built Heritage, Faculty for the Built Environment.
The conference was also addressed by the Minister for Tourism, Culture and the Environment Dr Mario de Marco, Simonds Farsons Cisk plc, Chairman Mr Louis A. Farrugia, Simonds Farsons Cisk plc Director Mr Michael Farrugia, and Dr Reuben Grima from the University’s Faculty for the Built Environment.