White Tower, Ta’ Ħoslien, Ta’ Eslien, Torre Biancha
The L-Aħrax Tower was constructed in 1658 and was the sixth tower to be constructed during the reign of Grand Master Martin de Redin who built them from his own expenses. These are in sequence North East to South West:
- L- Aħrax Tower at l-Armier
- Għajn Ħadid Tower in Selmun (mostly demolished)
- Għallis Tower on the Salina Coast Road (under the care of Din l-Art Ħelwa)
- Madliena Tower (now in good condition)
- St. Julian’s Tower (converted into a bar)
- Triq Il- Wiesgħa Tower in Xgħajra (in good condition)
- Żonqor Tower (collapsed)
- Xrob l-Għagin Tower (partly destroyed)
- Delimara and Bengħisa Towers (both demolished by the British services)
- Ħamrija Tower (in good condition)
- Wardija Tower in Żurrieq (fairly good condition)
The cost of all towers, including the woodwork, amounted to slightly above 6428 scudi. The L-Aħrax tower itself costed 589 scudi which does not include the expenses of the wooden apertures. It is strategically located on a hill between the Daħlet ix-Xmajjar and Daħlet ta’ Eslien (or Ħoslien) which is now referred to as Daħlet it-Torri and looks over the Comino channel. Until the turn of the 20th century the ruins of the Ħoslien Redoubt still stood in the Ħoslien Bay. The original plaque still exists commemorating this event. The Universita` of Notable paid for the salary of the bombardier and the 3 dejma soldiers. It was armed with two bronze cannons, four muskets, sixteen cannon balls, musket balls and ten rotolo (about 8kg) of powder.
Inscription of the Plaque above the doorway on the upper floor of the tower that commemorating the construction of the tower.
FRA DON MARTINO DE REDIN MAGNO S.R.H. MAGISTRO
SEXTAM SPECVLAM PRO CARINARVM AC IN COLARVM TVRIORI
STAT ILERIGENTI, MELITEN POPVLVS PRINCIPI SVO
CLEMENTI PROVT IN CORDE, SIC IN L RIDE GRATES
DEBITAS REDDEBAT. AN. 1658
Above the inscription there was the coat of arms of the Grand Master but its place is now occupied by a disproportionately large depression which suggests that a larger coat of arms must have been fitted at a later date, possibly during the British period. The tower is said to have served as a summer residence of the British Governor.
In the 1980s one of its tenants built a garage behind the tower which partly destroyed the redan. In June 2009 it was handed over to the Mellieħa Local Council.
In November 2016 the Mellieħa local Council signed an agreement with Din l-Art Ħelwa granting the property and adjoining land on loan for ten years to the non-governmental organisation for restoration, conservation and use. The first thing which the association did was to secure the area and close it off. The tower has been left abandoned for years and parts of it were collapsing rendering the place very dangerous. The tower was scheduled as Grade 1 by the Planning Authority in 1995 and so the original tower will be restored without any modifications but other works will include masonry and concrete works on additions which were made in the time of the British. Other work will include water proofing of the whole structure, plumbing, electricity and drainage works. Road works, landscaping and repair works on the concrete floor surrounding the tower will conclude the project which is expected to last at least 3 years. Two illegal structures which were used as a garage and store room will be demolished.
Martin Vella, warden of Wignacourt tower in St Paul’s Bay, will be leading the project but the restoration committee comprising of Josie Ellul Mercer and Stanley Farrugia Randon will be helping. President Maria Grazia Cassar and Honorary Treasurer Martin Scicluna are working hard to look for sponsors for this project. Architect Joseph Attard who had been appointed by the Mellieħa Local Council to provide a method statement if the restoration of the tower before it was handed over to Din l-Art Ħelwa, is surveilling the works.
Din l-Art Ħelwa plans to use to place for educational and academic initiatives, school or youth training facilities, exhibitions, a diving and marine-study centre, artistic performances and animation, guided tours and lectures, corporate and philanthropic functions and heritage accommodation.