The founding document of the Casino Maltese is dated 1 March 1852. The Club is considered a living society of prestige, a national institution, and as such forms part of Malta's history. The Club's motto is 'Omnibus Idem', and has the social gathering and entertainment of members as the main purpose for its existence.
The Club occupied different premises on Valletta’s main thoroughfare and was called Casino della Borsa when it used the piano nobile of Chamber of Commerce’s Exchange Building. The Club leased out 247 Strada Reale (now Republic Street) between 1859 and 1877 and then from 1906 to date. At the beginning of the 20th century the Club carried out modifications to the building including the creation of the grand staircase and the courtyard under the direction of architect Nicola Buhagiar.
During World War II some members of staff tragically lost their lives in the air raid of 15 February 1942. Despite sustaining extensive war damage, the Club remained open. The word 'Resurgam' (I will rise again) was displayed on a board amid the ruins by members, many of whom were in uniform at the time.
The partial reconstruction of the Casino Maltese was entrusted to architect Silvio Mercieca who created the Fireside Lounge and the vast spaces of the reception rooms on the first floor, including the ornate Ballroom.
Club members have the use of a Reading Room, a Billiard Room, lounge areas, a Bar in the covered courtyard as well as the Dining Room and reception areas.
Over the years the Club had the privilege of welcoming many a distinguished visitor including HM Queen Elizabeth II, as Princess on 14 December 1949, The Duke of Windsor (later King Edward VIII) during his visit to Malta for the official opening of the first Maltese Parliament on the 1 November 1921, Emperor Hirohito of Japan on the 25 of April 1921. More recently Prince Edward, as Chairman of The Duke of Edinburgh's Award International Council was in Malta to attend the 11th International Award Forum in 1989. He returned with the Countess of Wessex on the 25 November 2012.
Two marble tablets record the names of past Presidents.
The Club also runs smaller premises at No.70, Tower Road, Sliema.
The Club has reciprocal agreements with similar clubs that exist in Australia, Canada, Chile, England, France, Holland, India, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, New Zealand, People's Republic of China, Scotland, Spain and USA.
History of the Building
During the rule of the Order of the Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem the premises at 247 Republic Street, were used as the 'Casa Del Commun Tesoro' (literally the House of the National Treasurer), but only accounts, contracts and records of the Treasury were kept there. This institution was presided over by the Grand Commander who was helped in his task by 2 procurators of the Treasury, the Procurator of the Grand Master, the Conventual Conservator and the Secretary.
The Secretary resided on the premises in an apartment with a separate entrance, and it was his duty to supervise
the clerks and accountants, and to see that the interests of the Religion were properly cared for. His position was of the greatest trust, and he was assisted by under-secretaries for France, Spain and Italy. His office was very demanding, but his wage was considered low at only Scudi 300 per annum.
During the early days of British rule the premises housed the Chief Secretary's Office, Government Treasury, the British packet office. Samuel T. Coleridge, renowned poet and writer, worked on the premises for a short period at the beginning of the 19th Century.
During the late 1800s, the building was converted into ‘The Grand Hotel’ and at one point, what is now the Reading Room was the Salinos Cinema, the second cinema to open in Malta.
Since 1906 to date, the premises have been occupied by the Casino Maltese that modified the building for its use as a club.
The publication ‘A History of the Maltese Club’ contains more details on the Casino Maltese and the premises it occupies. Click here for more information.
The Noon-Mark Sundial with Analemma
The face of the Sundial (6.1m x 1.9m, pictured left) includes an Analemma and Zodiacal signs. It marks only noon-time.
The present Sundial is a modernised reconstruction of the one that existed up to the last war and which was subsequently destroyed when the wall collapsed through enemy action. It was reconstructed on the initiative and under the supervision Rev. Fr. George Fenech who constructed quite a few sundials across Malta.
The Analemma is the curve having the shape of an elongated figure of 8, made up of twelve sections representing the months, surrounding and crossing the main Meridian.
The sun spot crosses the Analemma at noon Malta time every day, marking at the same time the month of the year with a rough approximation of the day of the month.