The Semaphore Tower in Gharghur was constructed by the British Military in 1844. It served as a signaling station using long wooden arms fixed on its roof which could be moved mechanically in order to create a specific letter. Semaphore stations were built at Ghaxaq, Gharghur, and Nadur in Gozo. In addition, three more stations were established on the Governor's Palace in Valletta, Selmun castle and Ta' Gurdan Light House in Gozo.
The Semaphore tower consists of three rooms built on top of each other with a spiral staircase linking them together and reaching onto the roof. Each tower was provided with independent cooking and sanitary facilities for the use of its garrison. The signaling equipment stood high on the roof of the tower. This consisted of a wooden pole having three movable arms measuring 12 feet in length.
Prior to Restoration:
The Semaphore tower was not in use for several years and as a result has suffered the effects of time, and lack of proper maintenance. The ground floor of the semaphore tower was the worst effected by rising damp. Much of surface of the external stone blocks had weathered away; the area around one of the windows in particular was almost entirely lost. The lower five courses had been plastered with a harmful concrete mix. Dirt and biological growth marred the façades particularly around the blocked rain water drainage pipe.
The front parvis consisted of an uneven surface of compacted fill which needed to be replaced. On one side of the tower was a collapsed rubble wall of a neighbouring field. The ground and first floor of the tower lacked a floor finish while the stone tiles of the second floor were still present. The signalling equipment has long been removed.
The façade of the tower was cleaned using de-ionized water and handheld tools, taking care not to damage the old stone. All the cement plastering and pointing was removed while all the joints were re-pointed with hydraulic lime based mix. The external area surrounding the tower was rehabilitated, including the removal of vegetal growth along the tower, the re-construction of the nearby rubble wall and the paving of the front parvis with non-slip hardstone. The dangerous roof the adjacent garage was replaced, while all stones which were the cause of structural instability were repaired or replaced with worked stone blocks identical to the original.
The wooden beams where consolidated and given a protective coating, while broken ceiling slabs were seamlessly repaired. All old existing wooden apertures were re-used. A new electrical and plumbing system was installed amongst other things. The Gharghur local council is now in charge of the care of this historic tower. It is now being used as an exhibition and re-enactment space.
Date of commencement: January 2008
Date of completion: July 2009