After several years of preparatory work, the Birkirkara Local Council has secured the necessary funds to realise one of its most historical projects – the Birchircara Railway Station Museum Project. The project, being carried out in collaboration with the Malta Railway Foundation, is aimed at the renovation of the 19th Century Victorian Railway Station building situated at Ġnien l-Istazzjon (Station Garden) and convert it into a Railway Museum depicting almost half a century of Malta’s railway history.
The Malta Railway commenced its operations on 28th February 1883 a service which saw its end on 31st March 1931 thus running for 48 years. Initially the route ran from Valletta Railway Terminus to Notabile Terminus Station in Rabat.
At the time, the railway was one of two fetes related to the Mechanized Revolution that reached the shores of the island of Malta. The two fetes were both related to public transport. One was the Railway and the other was the Barrakka Lift. They both provided a more efficient and practical means of transport, which reduced the travelling time between Valletta and Rabat from three hours to less than half an hour.
The Birkirkara Station, at the time spelled “Birchircara”, because of the Italian influence on the language, was considered to be of strategic importance along the route. It was also referred to as the Central Railway Station. The train travelling from Valletta to Rabat and the train on its return journey from Rabat to Valletta, normally met here at Birchircara Station. On one of the carriages there was a metal box affixed to the side. This was a letter box, where commuters could mail their letters. At the Birchircara Station the mail was collected and distributed accordingly by the General Post Office.
The only surviving original Third Class Railway Carriage of the Malta Railway has lately been restored and placed in front of the Birchircara Railway Station, namely The Railway Museum. This Carriage was one of the 33 passenger carriages which the railway had. These besides the Governor General’s carriage and a small number of Ballast Wagons.
This Project shall establish a national railway museum housed in one of Malta’s original railway stations. The Museum will be an attraction to both locals and tourists alike and will be accessible to the public. At the same time, Ġnien l-Istazzjon is nowadays a beautiful public garden with a fountain, a number of benches a playground for children and open public space for relaxation which makes it family friendly.
With an investment of over €670,000 the Birchircara Station will undergo the necessary interventions to serve its new function, including structural alterations and repairs, finishing works, installation of mechanical and electrical services and restoration of timber apertures. The sanitary facilities will also be upgraded and an external panoramic lift will be installed to ensure accessibility to all.