History of the Abattoir

Animals have been slaughtered for meat in the Maltese islands since time immemorial. Medieval Archives document the existence of legislation on the slaughtering of animals, including on standards on how these should be presented for sale, who is authorised to slaughter animals, where it can be sold and so on and so forth.

During the Hospitaller Period, Grand Master Jean Lascaris Castellar (1636-1657) mandated that all butchering should be done in Valletta, in the area around what was then known as the 'Gran Fontana' (this was a fountain built on the site where the Hospitallers had, way back in May 1566 discovered by chance a natural spring in what is now St Christopher Street facing Old Mint Street). The same grandmaster also built eight magazines in Saint Christopher’s Street, four on each side of the road leading to Jews Sally Port, for use as part of the slaughterhouse. By 1667, the eight magazines were divided into two chambers each to form a total of 16. The said Gran Fontana changed its name to 'Fontana della Bucieria' (biċċerija), from the old slaughter house building still standing to the rear of the fountain. 

An abattoir has been established and functioning in Albert Town Marsa since 1897 – actually on the site there were both civil and military abattoirs. Over the years, the Abattoir has however undergone major renovations. Parts of this abattoir had been demolished and reconstructed again in 1974, other parts of the building have been recognised as industrial archaeological heritage and hence they have been, or are in the process of being, restored. Further upgrades were made in the 1980s as well as in the period leading to the accession of Malta to the European Union, when the Abattoir was upgraded to EU standards. In 2008, a €1 million cutting and deboning plant financed by the Italian fifth framework protocol was inaugurated to enable further cutting and packaging of meat from carcasses slaughtered at the Public Abattoir. Furthermore, the Public Abattoir is presently working on a four-year major renovation project to bring its processes into the Twenty-first century.