Plate 25Undated photographs from Commandery records showing war damage

The building was damaged by enemy air action during World War 2, and photographs (25) show that the northern end of what is now the Kitchen and possibly the Entrance Hall roof were destroyed, as was a room of unknown dimensions which was located above the entrance hall.

A 1957 aerial photograph (26) shows that the damaged part of the Kitchen roof had already been repaired (that is, prior to acquisition by Lt Col. Gayre), and that the room containing the upstairs toilet was already built. It is known that the roofs over the Kitchen and over the Entrance Hall were in existence in 1960 3. This photograph also shows a room built above south-western corner of the Knights’ Hall, and two rooms at ground floor in the top half of the courtyard, built up against the eastern courtyard wall. These rooms no longer exist.

Plate 26Extract from 1957 Aerial Photograph

In the years preceding 1972, and certainly in 1960, the Entrance Hall was used for the parking of a “karrozzin”, known as “Il-Vitoria”, by the Mr Costanzo Parnis, who occupied the property under a “precarious title”, without payment to the owners 4. The horse was kept in what is now the Kitchen, and sheep were kept in the Knights hall 3.

Plate 27Planning Area Permits Board Permit P4834/961/70

It is known that the property was used by the Parnis family for a number of years, possibly up to its acquisition by a Miss Maria Rita Camilleri of Sliema in 1970 from Borg Estates Ltd. 4. At the time of purchase, the Torri appears to have been in good structural condition, and therefore much of the War damage had been repaired, but parts of the Courtyard walls had collapsed 4. A Planning permit, bearing number 961/70 (27), was issued to Miss Camilleri on the 12th December 1970, to carry out extensive alterations and additions to the building. These works would in effect have transformed the character of the property from that of a fortified farmhouse to that of a small castle (28, 29); these works were never carried out. A letter dated 22nd November 1971 (30) was sent by Notary Joseph R Grech to the Planning Board, on behalf of Lt Col The Chevalier Robert Gayre of Gayre & Nigg, in turn on behalf of Messrs Lochore Enterprises (Malta) Ltd, stating that the company is successor in title to the property, and asking for a Renewal of the permit. This Renewal was issued on the 3rd February 1972 (31).

Plate 28Drawing approved by the PAPB in 1972

Plate 29Drawing submitted to the PAPB in 1970

Repairs to damages in the masonry in the Kitchen and Entrance Hall area may have been carried out prior to, or during, 1972. This is known because during the course of internal re-pointing works on the stonework in 2016, part of a 1972 newspaper was discovered embedded between two masonry blocks. The wall which separates the Kitchen from the Entrance Hall, and which may have been damaged during the war, was probably re-built at this time re-using the stone blocks still on site, since both this wall’s ends are not connected to the side walls. Furthermore, part of the Kitchen ceiling, covering the half of the room nearest to the Entrance Hall end, appears to have been replaced at some stage, and mechanical saw marks in the underside of the “xorok” indicate that this replacement mat have also been carried out as part of the 1972 works. It was at this time that a corridor, toilet and store at ground floor along the eastern wall of the Kitchen were constructed. Improvement works on the building continued over the years, but no major construction works were carried out since then.

Plate 30Letter dated 22.11.71 from Notary Joseph R. Grech

Plate 31Planning Area Permits Board Permit P 348/72/961/70 Renewal