Written by Lorenzo Zahra
The long radio towers located in Rnella Bay have been regarded for many years as the landmark of Kalkara.
Since over the last century, the 20th century, the telegraph was invented, the British services as part of the defense system in our island had taught of establishing a radio station, the chosen location was Kalkara in the Valley of Rnella.
At that time there were no buildings, infect the British Government had established a gunpowder store in the area also known as Porvlista. This became the Government’s station built on architect Galizia’s plan. It is located on the side road to the beach.
In 1910, the first radio telegraph tower was erected and was mentioned as the ‘Malta High Power Wireless Station’ and therefore a Station Engineer was commissioned to lived in a nearby newly built home by the British Services for employed personnel. Initially the first engineer was the Chief Engineer GP Major Hayes. The works on the entire station was made by the Maltese contractor Ernestu Cassar. The contract of works for the entire building was signed on 24 January 1911. After this, barracks for some employees who were working at the station were also built but this time worked were carried out by the the contractor Xuereb. The plans were made by the same Major Hayes.
In 1926 the large radio towers were erected and were known by the locals as the Rnella towers. Both towers were more than six hundred feet long and one was known as Northwest tower and other as the southeast tower.
All works carried out were always done under the supervision of this British Major whose name remained associated with this project. In 1930 there had been some changes on these towers in the form of grades and other two more towers were erected but these were not as long as existing ones, these were two hundred and fifty feet each.
For this station to be able to function a Transmitting Station was created and started operating in 1911. In the following year turbines branded was Thomas Houston were affixed for the blowers, and placed in specified rooms in the station itself. In 1928 electrical transformers were brought specially to operate the station. A war shelter was also built, but when war rumors emerged in 1936, an underground station was built.
After the war the station’s format was changes and in 1946 the whole station was modernized, new towers were erected instead of the old ones. In 1959 new hundred and eighty feet towers were erected and in 1961 other towers four hundred feet in height were erected. Obviously these towers were used for the island’s defense services. Thus, Rnella Valley was not only known for the telegraph communications but also for these massive towers. Nowadays this telecommunications technology is obsolete and these towers are not used any more. Only one is still used for the purpose of telecommunications today but this tower was transfered from Kalkara to Gharghur.