What type of modernization did Malta experience
from 1870’s down to 1914.
Intro: When a country
undergoes a process of Modernization, it experiences a series of developments
that reforms its previous way of life into a more technological advanced state.
This modernization can take place in various aspects of a society: social
aspect, Economical aspect and political aspect. This process is usually
triggered by colonialism where the colonial nation starts organising its colony
to undergo this development and achieve the status of a modern society.
the early 19 th century a transition had begun in the construction of ships. Up
to that point ships relied on the power of the wind to navigate from one destination
to another. Yet with the development of steam power, the sails were replaced
with a steam engine. This worked by heating water in a boiler tank with a coal
furnace to the point where the water becomes steam which is moved to power the
working parts of the engine through thin pipes which would intensify its
pressure and thus its strength.
that the sailing voyage length was decreased with ships travelling faster and
at larger distances. This meant that news would travel faster and an increase
in commerce and tourism was seen.
the British started to develop the Commercial harbour to accommodate for the
larger steam ships. With the power of these new ships Britain could now protect
the trade routes with more efficiency. This development in the harbour brought
a huge labour demand and many Maltese started to migrate from the rural areas
to the more urban regions in order to be closer to work.
transition from sail to steam ships saw the decline of various manufactures in
Malta which specialised in producing equipment for Sail ship-building.
Merchants found it easier to and more productive to buy readymade ships from
abroad rather than employ huge number of workers construct a sail ship which
was becoming more and more obsolete.
experienced some sort of tourism as companies like: The Peninsular and Oriental
Steam Navigation Company had: ”the service leaving Southampton…. on the 25th of every
month to Constantinople via Gibraltar, Malta, Athens, Syros and Izmir. The
traffic doubled by the 1860’s and increased still more by the 1880’s”
development in transportation was the setting up of the railway system from
Valletta to Mdina in 1883. This created a movement amongst the labouring class
which started to settle around the rail stations and coal stations like Hamrun
and Santa Venera which saw a huge increase in development and population at
that time. The new land based transport also made it easier for workers and
consumers to travel further. The railway system was extended to the British
barracks in Mtarfa in 1900. The trains were rather popular amongst the Maltese
yet with the introduction of trams and bus routes in 1905 it’s popularity
declined until it was closed off in 1931. During it’s operation it had 10
locomotives with First and Third-class carriages being provided.
1870s, the British had started a process of schooling, but they needed money to
stimulate this anglicisation process. This would lead to the construction of
more schools, and hence more jobs, not only in Malta but also in England. This
process could not be achieved if middle classes and elites would not accept
this change. So, the British started a welfare system of hospitalisation, and
the building of institutions.
required was not to come from the British treasury, since Malta was a colony
and it had to create its own revenue system. Up to 1870 it was collected from
the wheat tax. The latter was very unfair on the poor and working classes since
it pushed up the prices, and it was mainly directed at the lower and middle
classes with their high wheat buying (especially bread).
required a large sum of money in order to be able to start this project with
the process of anglicisation. Anglicisation being the process of improving the
education system in Malta). Hence they brought Francis Rowsell to Malta where
he made the first important analysis of the island’s economy, focusing mostly
on the fiscal system.
report he stated that this cannot continue and that the British had to abandon
the tax system which was already there either by reducing the wheat tax or
abolish it completely and include a tax that would include the merchants as
The Rowsell report had a tremendous impact
locally not only because it created resistance from merchant classes but also
by land owners, especially the catholic church and the professional classes.
There were riots in Valletta. The report had a tremendous impact politically as
well which created the first political parties; the reformisti and
anti-reformisti. The former (agreed with Rowsell). While resistance to
Rowsell’s report achieved its stay, many attempted to resurrect it again.
Gerald Strickland, who was pro-British and a reformist made a draft ordinance.
One which wanted to completely reform the fiscal system reducing wheat tax to
minimum and tapping other pockets which were making profits in the economy in
order to build the infrastructure already mentioned.
revenues needed to be used for these projects; building of more schools,
drainage and sewage infrastructure especially in urban areas, building of
prisons and lunatic asylum, a breakwater in Gozo and a civil general hospital,
as well as the extension of electric light from the port to Cottonera and to
other parts of the island.
modernisation programme that was drawn by Strickland was influenced by Rowsell.
In order to do this Strickland listed a list of new taxes which were to be
introduced for the implementation of this programme. He wanted increase in
stamp notary duties, bills of exchange, sails and business transactions. Hence
taxes were to be imposed on the commercial sector. He also wanted an increase
of 20% on beer, sugar, tobacco and petroleum. Strickland said that this would
not hurt the majority of the population. It would also help any Maltese
entrepreneur who wanted to start a beer industry. Hence creating a protection for
local industries which would lower or abolish the wheat tax. This had a total
resistance by chamber of commerce and the church.
? The reports dealt separately with
the administrative, political, cultural and economic-fiscal problems, and
suggested reforms which were required to secure the proper functioning of
Malta’s strategic facilities. From the resulting recommendations, the need for
a modern fiscal system, which would increase local revenue through a more
socially equitable system of taxation, was considered crucial for the process
of modernising Malta. It also recommended in its report the Anglicisation of
the educational and judicial systems. While the latter had to wait until the
20th century, teaching of the English language started to be enforced in State
schools at the expense of Italian. In 1911, English overtook Italian as the
secondary language after Maltese, spoken by 13.1% of the population vs. 11.5%.
The Royal Commission’s report also had significant political impact. Supporters
and opponents organised themselves into a Reform and Anti-Reform parties which,
apart from being the forerunners of the present day two main political parties
in Malta, the reformisti and anti-reformisti (and also, subsequently,
pro-colonial and anti-colonial policies) that were to characterise them for
decades to come.
British initiative for modernization in this sector came in 1874 with the idea
of installing drainage systems around Malta especially the densely populated
harbour region. Yet trouble arose upon this issue as to whom should the costs
fall upon. The British Colonial government argued that this project was for the
benefit of the Maltese populace thus the Maltese treasury should contribute. On
the other hand, the Maltese Council of Government brought up the fact that such
project would also benefit the health of the British colonial office, War and
Admiralty departments and the British civilian residents in Malta.
the price was divided into: £3000 coming from the Colonial Government and £
4000 from the council of governments treasury. This project ended up costing
more than expected and the British demanded the extra costs to be collected
from The Council of government. With the elected Maltese refusing and voting
against, the British Governor used the power of the vote of official majority to
pass the money.
this project was costly for the Maltese general populace as at the end of the
day it was they who were paying for the project from their taxes, it had
beneficial impacts on the health of the Maltese. Sanitation in the harbour region
and where the drainage system was installed improved.
serious attempt for the improvement of sanitation in the Maltese islands came
in 1904 with the passing of the Sanitary Ordinance Laws. These were a series of
laws that protected the Maltese consumer from digesting unhygienic food. These
laws also imposed harsh penalties on merchants selling adulterated food
especially grains. With the passing of these laws care had to be taken on how
livestock is grown and butchered, preserved and sold. Inspectors would start
inspecting the animal stalls regularly to see whether they were kept in a
time many Maltese often found themselves suffering from the so-called Maltese
Fever. Up that point it was unclear as from where the Maltese were infected
from. Sir Temi Zammit studied this case and came to the conclusion that the
Maltese Fever was coming from the Brucellosis bacteria found in unpasteurized
milk and with the consumption of soft cheeses. Sir Temi Zammit suggested that
the milk should be boiled first before consumption. Laws were passed
prohibiting consumption of un boiled milk in households. Furthermore, goat
herds were prohibited from entering Valletta. Goat inspections were carried out
with around 45% of goats ending up being destroyed due to having the virus
present in their system. Although there were protests by the herders the
general populace was grateful for this development.
a change in the mentality of the Maltese were as of before they were reluctant
to improve their health especially if it ended up costing them something. Yet
with the development in sanitation the Maltese ended up seeing the benefits
they had brought for the general health of the country.