VENDÔME BATTERY

Vendôme Battery was built in 1715–1716 as part of the first building programme of coastal batteries in Malta. It was part of a chain of fortifications that defended the Fliegu Channel, between the northern coast of Malta and Comino.

The battery was named after Philippe de Vendôme, the Prior of France, who donated 40,000 scudi to construct batteries and redoubts around Malta’s coastline. Several other fortifications were named after Vendôme, including a tour-redoubt in Marsaxlokk and a number of redoubts.

Vendôme Battery was one of the largest batteries to be built in Malta. It has a central blockhouse and a semi-circular wall with nine embrasures for artillery pieces facing the sea. At the two extremities of this wall one finds four shorter stretches of walls from where emerge the two back walls forming the redan. Around the whole coastal battery there is a deep ditch for further defence. The blockhouse is larger than those of other coastal batteries or coastal redoubts and it has a door and two windows facing seawards together with a single door at the back facing

Part of the semi-circular parapet wall with two embrasures for the two cannons. The ditch is filled with soil. Parallel to the wall is seen part of the blockhouse.

Frontal part of the semi-circular parapet wall with two embrasures for the two cannons. Again parallel to the wall is seen the upper part of the blockhouse and its roof.

A typical gun platform of a coastal battery showing four 6-pdr cannons in their embrasures. This particular example is found at Comino Battery

A typical 6-pdr cannon in its embrasure. One can see part of the frontal view of the battery which is the Fliegu opposite the northern coast of Mellieħa.

the redan. It costed 1059.1.9. scudi. Part of the expenses went on works on each two muri a due facciate which costed 158.9.15 scudi and 76.10.13.4 scudi respectively, the contrascarpa costed 146.6.7.4 scudi, the scavazione costed 120.3.15 scudi, the canali stimati costed 100 scudi.

 

On 4 October 1769, the Congregation of War made a report about the actual situation in the coastal fortifications, in terms of artillery pieces. The report showed how the coastal fortifications, including those of Mellieħa had been depleted in regarding artillery pieces. They were probably taken to be used elsewhere, especially on the Hospitallers’ warships in the previous years. The following is the report on Vendôme Battery:

Vendome Battery

There were 8-pdr cannons, but now is disarmed, and the utensils remain for the cannons that was armed with.

A year later, an artillery inventory was made in the Mellieħa coastal batteries, and we know that there were the following items in Vendome Battery:

Vendome Battery

Iron cannons 8-pdr = 3
Iron cannons 12-pdr = 3
Naval carriages = 11
Iron cannon balls 8-pdr = 210
Grape shots of 8-pdr = 45
Blackpowder conserved in St. Agatha Tower = 4.70.1

An artillery inventory was prepared by the Knight St. Felix on 3 October 1785, which showed the situation in the same coastal fortifications and how many pieces of artillery and other utensiles and necessary items they had. The following is the list of artillery pieces in Vendôme Battery:

 

Vendome Battery

Iron cannons 12-pdr = 4
Iron cannons 8-pdr = 5
Naval carriages = 11
Iron cannon balls 12-pdr = 280
Iron cannon balls 8 pdr = 350
Canister shots 12-pdr = 60
Canister shots 8-pdr = 75

In early November 1792, a number of artillery pieces of different calibre were distributed in various coastal fortifications, some of them in the coastal fortifications of Mellieħa. The following is a list of the calibre of the guns and their number in Vendôme Battery:

Vendôme Battery

On 5 November 1792, the Congregation of War ordered that guards to be sent to the Vendôme Battery:

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Mellieha Local Council

21 521333

The Parish Priest

21 523449

Mellieha Clinic

21 522316

Police - Mellieha

21 523457

Police - Qawra

21 571174 - 21 576737

Waterworks - Qawra

21 573507 - 21 583859

Maria Bambina Primary School

21 523527

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    About the village of Mellieha

    Mellieha is a rural village and tourist resort in the Northwestern part of Malta and derives its name from the Semitic root 'm-l-h' which in Arabic means salt. The name was probably derived from the ancient Punic and Roman salt-terns; historians indicated as lying adjacent to the large sandy bay at the foot of the village.
    Mellieha has been inhabited since early Neolithic times (3000 B.C). Several megalithic remains and tombs of this era and other primitive tools and fragments of pottery were found in various localities around this area, primarily at "il-Latnija" - a natural cavity used by several stone-age peoples - and at l-Gholja tax-Xemxija.
    During the Roman and Byzantine occupations (213B.C- 870A.D.), Mellieha's valleys were inhabited by troglodytes, who irrigated the land, adopted natural caves as their dwelling places and buried their beloved ones in Punic style burial chambers. Following the Arab conquest and during the medieval period (870-1530A.D.), the area was deserted, primarily due to the continuous raids of the Muslim corsairs.
    Notwithstanding the hardship experienced by the Maltese during the Reign of the Order of St. John (1530-1798A.D.), Mellieha's medieval chapel, dedicated to the Holy Virgin Mary, was one of the most venerated places on the island. Several distinguished persons, such as grandmaster's, kings and bishops visited the shrine and pilgrimages to the sanctuary from all over the island were held frequently.
    In the late 17th century, the Knights built several fortifications along the coast, so as to protect the inhabitants. This venture brought about the gradual repopulating of the area, mainly by those who wanted to exploit the fertile valleys and the new enterprise of tunny net fishing. Under the British, in 1844, Mellieha was established again as a parish and since then it grew up into a modern town, of circa 6,500 people.
    Today, Mellieha is one of Malta's most picturesque tourist destinations. The town centre boasts of its splendid hotels, fine restaurants and traditional cute shops. It has a unique primary school, a majestic baroque church (built in late 19th century) and various cultural organizations, including band clubs, sports clubs, an orchestra, various religious societies, a parish community centre and an environmental pressure group. Since 1993, local affairs are being run by the Mellieha Local Council, an institution made up of seven councilors, elected every three years by the people.
    Mellieha's main festive season occurs in the first two weeks of September and reaches its climax on the 8th September. During these days various cultural manifestations are held, such as musical concerts, fireworks, folk singing, art exhibitions and the traditional religious procession. The town's people, ''Il-Mellehin'', are renowned for their laborious nature, their ironic sense of humour, and their friendliness and hospitality. Those who visit us, no matter where they hail from, do not merely enjoy themselves but feel at home.

    As long as Mellieha preserves its great archaeological and historic heritage, its unique natural environment, and its traditions and costumes, its people, "Il-Mellehin", can look forward to a bright future.