Bill H UK wrote: ↑
24 Jul 2021 09:42
Hi Halfpenny Yellow, and thanks for your contribution. It's great to hear that the remaining boxes on Malta are now protected. Whatever you think about British rule, you can't deny there are impressive bits of street furniture, and part of your history. I'd be interested to see any examples of the remaining older ones, or ones in more rural areas.
Malta's colonial legacy is rather complex - until independence in 1964 we were always colonised by a foreign power: we were historically part of Sicily (under Muslim and later Christian rule), and were then ruled by the Hospitallers ("Knights of Malta"), the French (very briefly) and finally the British. Our heritage is a mix of all of these, with the Maltese population itself being descended from Muslim/Christian settlers (many from North Africa, Sicily and mainland Italy) in the medieval period along with later European settlers (Greeks, Italians, French, English etc) from the Hospitaller to British eras (+ since the 2000s there have been many more migrants from around the world, including from Eastern Europe, the Middle East, parts of Africa, the Philippines etc).
The red post boxes are therefore one of many reminders of this colonial legacy. They are probably one of the most recognisable symbols of British rule, along with the red telephone boxes, the British coats of arms on some public buildings (thankfully these were never chiseled off) and, ironically, a statue of Queen Victoria in Republic Square
in Valletta. What's interesting is that at the same time these post boxes have become a sort of local symbol - souvenir shops regularly sell model pillar boxes and telephone boxes labelled "MALTA" to tourists, eg. these pencil sharpeners (available online
from a company called Leaf Ltd).
Anyway, here are two more British-style boxes in Malta - both still in use. The first is the VR pillar box near the Customs House in Valletta, adjacent to the Grand Harbour (this is the exact location in Google Street View
if any of you want to check it out - but the postbox is barely visible behind a parked car).
This is interesting as it seems to be the oldest
intact postbox in Malta, and it is the one depicted on the 2004 1c stamp which I'm reposting below (although a gate has been installed behind it so the sea front view on the stamp has changed). This was apparently one of the first two boxes installed in 1860 (the same year when Malta's first postage stamp was issued) - the other one was near St George's Square in Valletta, and I think it also still exists but without the royal cypher (I'll take a pic of it next time I go there and I'll post it here). It bears a manufacturer's inscription on the black base which is not very legible in this photo, but I think it might be Andrew Handyside & Co. Ltd, and it is currently designated as MaltaPost letterbox no. 271.
The second one is from around a century later (1950s-60s), and it's a Queen Elizabeth II wall box in the town of Ħamrun, specifically at the corner of Mons. De Piro Street and Parish Priest Mifsud Street (Google Street View
). It bears the manufacturer's inscription "W.T. Allen & Co. Ltd London" at the bottom, and it is currently designated as MaltaPost letterbox no. 280. The cypher was painted gold sometime in the last five years since in the 2016 Street View image the entire box is red. (However who installed the tiles around it should have done a better job...)