The Ruined Australia Hall in Pembroke, Malta

The Ruined Australia Hall in Pembroke, Malta (Image: Continentaleurope. Australia Hall in Pembroke, Malta)

All wars bring with them horrifying casualties, and the Great War was one of the deadliest conflicts in human history. With it came an urgent need to care for the wounded, and in 1915 a small island in the Mediterranean found itself perfectly positioned for that purpose. Malta became known as the “Nurse of the Mediterranean”, and by the time the Armistice sounded in 1918, around 136,000 men had been treated there.

The BBC looked into the numbers, and they’re staggering. Malta had 27 hospitals in January 1916, which cared for some 2,000 new patients each week. The record for a single day stands at a staggering 20,994 patients, who came under the care of hundreds of doctors and nurses working tirelessly to save the wounded front line troops.

The abandoned ruins of Australia Hall, a 1915 entertainment venue in Pembroke, Malta (Image: Continentaleurope)

It was in 1915 that Australia Hall was built at Pembroke, a town in the country’s Northern Region. As the name suggests, it was built by the Australian branch of the British Red Cross as an entertainment venue for convalescing Anzac soldiers. It’s function wasn’t merely to distract wounded soldiers as they recovered from their physical injuries. It also saw to their mental, spiritual, and emotional needs as well.

(Image: Continentaleurope)

According to The Times of Malta, the entertainment hall officially opened on January 16, 1916, with enough room to accommodate 2,000 people for stage productions, dances and other events. A library and reading room were later added, and after the war, in 1921, a projector was installed so that the venue could be used as a cinema. Providing soldiers with lighthearted entertainment was a big part of the care that Malta offered. Even after World War One drew to a close, Australia Hall remained a major entertainment centre until British forces left the island in 1979.

(Image: Freddyolsson)

But the years that followed were not so kind on the historic structure. Having passed into Maltese government ownership, the historic building was closed and became increasingly neglected. It was eventually gutted by fire in 1998, just two years after being formally recognised as a Grade 2 National Monument.

Abandoned Australia Hall from above (Image: via Google Earth)

The derelict, fire-ravaged Australia Hall was controversially sold in 2014 into private hands, and last year it was reported that Australia’s High Commissioner to Malta, Jane Lambert, was pushing for the century-old venue’s restoration. With only walls remaining, renovation would cost millions of euros and require in-depth planning. But as an important part of Australia’s national heritage, many are hopeful that a solution can soon be found.

Read Next: 10 Abandoned Places Down Under


About the author: Debra Kelly



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