The Historic Ruins of Fort Campbell, Malta

The historic ruins of Fort Campbell, Malta (Image: Ploync. The historic ruins of Fort Campbell, Malta)

The enigmatic ruins of Fort Campbell stand guard over the Maltese coastline, straddling the Selmun peninsula with commanding views over both St. Paul’s Bay and Mellieha Bay. Parts of the fort’s history remain hazy; it’s not clear when exactly the installation was decommissioned, and it’s thought that construction began in December 1937 and was sped up due to mounting tensions across Europe following the Munich Agreement.

A fire control tower at Fort Campbell, Malta (Image: Frank Vincentz)

According to Military Architecture, Fort Campbell was the last British fort to be built in Malta, a Southern European island nation in the Mediterranean Sea, before the outbreak of World War Two. As such, it was built at something of a turning point in the history of warfare. Previously, the biggest threats to Malta had come from the sea. But with rapid developments in the field of aviation, particularly the bomber, attacks from the air were a major concern.

Abandoned Fort Campbell, Malta (Image: Ploync)

A traditional fortification would have stood out against the landscape and made it an easy target from above, so Fort Campbell’s builders sort to make the fort blend into the surrounding countryside. Rather than the thick ramparts and rigid layout that typically characterised such military outposts, Fort Campbell’s structures were designed to mimic the irregular, stone rubble walls that crossed the Mellieħa landscape. Those walls hid – among other defences – two 6-inch breech-loading coastal guns and a series of heavy machine gun batteries poised to defend British seaplanes operating from Mistra Bay.

(Image: Frank Vincentz)

Fort Campbell was a departure from older forts in others ways, too. No consideration was given, for example, to unnecessary aesthetic touches. Everything about its robust construction was utilitarian, from its ability to seal itself off from the outside world to a spartan, unconventional interior designed to prevent reconnaissance planes (and bombers) detecting it from above.

(Image: Ploync)

This unusual design – a departure from the traditional polygonal layout of 19th century fortifications – and few internal buildings ensured its effective camouflage.

(Image: Ploync)

Sadly, though, the years have not been kind to the historic wartime facility. The fort’s importance waned after the Second World War, though the military did maintain a caretaker there until the 1970s. In more recent years, Fort Campbell has been abandoned, and increasingly at the mercy of vandals who have inflicted significant damage.

(Image: Ploync)

Iron beams integral to the support of the old barracks have been stolen, causing heavy stone blocks to collapse. The ruined fortress is now considered unsafe and should not be entered.

(Image: Ploync)

In 2014 Malta’s Prime Minister, Joseph Muscat, laid out plans to restore the ailing fort, but last year the Times of Malta reported that the historic ruins remained in a derelict and dangerous condition.

(Images: Ploync 1, 2)

In March this year, the newspaper also reported that Fort Campbell and other Maltese ruins were set to feature in an art project directed by Mark Magro.

(Image: Ploync)

The Times of Malta wrote: “Forgotten Landscapes is the first in a projected series of multimedia exhibitions and publications which brings together artisans and historians to tell the story of abandoned buildings in Malta.”

(Image: Ploync)

Related: 10 Abandoned Fire Control Towers of World War Two



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