During the month of January restoration works on St George’s façade and belfries started. In the previous weeks, the necessary scaffolding was erected to aid restorers carry out the works. The necessary on-site visits by experts and contractors were conducted, which revealed the extent of damages incurred. One of the belfries, as expected, has much more damages and weathering. The presence and insertion of an iron belt to hold firm the belfry had caused extensive chemical weathering, which is the main reason of such deterioration. This is more evident in the upper part of the belfry. Fissures and cracks on both belfries were mainly caused by the rusting of iron, while the coating of the belfry with cement and other additives need to be removed.
Other works include the restoration, and where necessary, the changing of highly weathered stones. Various restoration techniques need to be carried out on both belfries and façade to conserve stone works.
All related works need attention and care, as the façade is two centuries old. Between 1816 and 1817/8, the original façade had to be rebuilt in the neo-Classical style due to the various earthquakes which shook the island from 1693 onwards. The building of the new façade, on designs by Can. Salvatore Bondì, was left in the able hands of Sigismondo Dimech and his son Ferdinando.
The restoration of the façade and belfries is the second part of the project, the first being the restoration of the cupola which was finalised by July 2019. Restoration works are partially funded by a grant given by the Ministry for Gozo. The contractor was awarded following a public call.