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How Pembroke’s once-popular entertainment venue Australia Hall turned into a sad ruin
The 104-year-old building was buzzing with life in the first half of the 20th century

Caroline Curmi

If you’ve ever taken a stroll through Pembroke, you might have spotted a once majestic (but now a roofless and decaying) building within the parameters of the town.

Built between 1915 and 1916 by the Australian branch of the British Red Cross Services, it was aptly christened as Australia Hall. Its original purpose had been to entertain wounded soldiers from the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps recuperating in Malta during WWI.

Large and spacious, it could fit 2,000 people in its massive hall (which would sometimes double as a theatre) and even had its own library.

Later, it was passed on to a section of the British government in charge of overseeing recreational space for its troops, with the hall being subsequently fitted with a projector and transformed into a cinema in 1921. It would serve as an entertainment hall right till the last days of the British retreat from Malta.

After the islands’ independence, the property passed on to the Maltese government and later to third parties, but it was never put back in operation.

In 1996, Australia Hall was listed as a Grade 2 National Monument but by December 1998, it suffered a catastrophic fire that destroyed its roof. Although it was believed to have been caused by an arsonist, the case was never solved, and repairs were never effected. As such, it became a target for vandals and now graffiti cover some of its walls.

However, in 2016, the Australian High Commissioner got in contact with the building’s current owners for a possible restoration. Estimated to run into millions of Euros if this were to be effected, no word has yet been issued regarding if, or when, this would take place, and whether it would be rendered accessible to the public.

Would you like to see this piece of local history restored to its former glory?

13th February 2020


Caroline Curmi
Written by
Caroline Curmi
When she’s not having a quarter-life crisis, Caroline is either drawing in a café, frittering her salary on sushi or swearing at traffic in full-on Gozitan. There is also the occasional daytime drink somewhere in the equation. Or two. A creative must be allowed at least one vice.

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