Ħal Qormi

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Ħal Qormi (Citta' Pinto) is the largest town on the island <citation needed> and is situated between Wied is-Sewda and Wied il-Kbir, where once sea water flowed from il-Marsa which used to flood a large part of the place. Parts of this village are situated below sea level, between the hills of Il-Ħamrun and Tas-Samra, of Ħaż-Żebbuġ and Santa Venera.

Several rock cut tombs with human remains and pottery were found in various parts of Ħal-Qormi. These remains dating from Phoenician-Punic times give evidence to a small community. If an inhabited area existed during Roman times in the place known today as Ħal Qormi, this could only be a small settlement.

The Byzantines followed the Romans but we know next to nothing about this period. The Arabs succeeded them, and left nothing of importance except surnames and names.

We find Ħal-Qormi documented in the late Middle Agesin the militia list of 1417 where guard posts were mentioned. Qormi residents used to guard in l-Imdina, San Ġiljan, Sliema and where today we find St Elmo. A consdierable number of persons from Qormi during the late middle ages were peasants who worked in the fields near the village.

In 1530, the Order of St John came to Malta. When the Grand Master de Homedes appointed a new Universita in Birgu, Ħal- Qormi was separated from Mdina and was joined to this large group. During the Great Siege of 1565, men from Qormi and Birkirkara together put an army of 680 strong for the defence of Mdina. Between 1584 and 1684 the parish church was built and the inhabitants were the first who celebrated a feast with the titular statue. Because of the large number of bakeries operating during those times, Ħal-Qormi was known as Ħal Fornaro. Ħal-Qormi witnessed an outbreak of plague which raveged the island in 1592.

It was on the 27th April 1783 that the auditor J.J. Grech filed a request, that the archpriest of Ħal Qormi Dun Guzepp Vella, presented to the Gran Master Pinto through the Siniskalk so that Ħal-Qormi, from the title of terra, would be elevated to the title of town, since the number of residents rose to nearly six thousand souls. Therefore, Ħal-Qormi was awarded the title of town togther with the name chosen by the Grand Master himself. This petition was presented to the Grand Master and brought forward the reasons why it should be a town. In this petition we find many interesting information about life at Ħal-Qormi Citta' Pinto.

In the above-mentioned memorandum refers also to the Ħal-Qormi’s regiment complement as 439. In Ħal Qormi there was a number of businessmen including eight in the cotton and clothing industry and three in the flux industry. In addition there was a number of well-to-do families, to the extent that more than sixty-six families lived on private income. Clerics also sixty-six in number. As regards local government, Ħal-Qormi was subject to the Capitano di Verga and the members of the Mdina Università.

During the French occupation commencing in 1798, Ħal-Qormi suffered much under the yoke of the invading forces. Since the French occupied Malta during the festivities of Corpus Christi, St George’s parish church was decorated with silverware. This silverware was quickly confiscated by the invading forces. During the revolt of Maltese against the French (1798-1800), Ħal-Qormi shared its military responsibilities under the command of pharmacist Stanislaw Gatt.

During the first years of the British period, the people from Ħal-Qormi had a large part in the commerce and activity at the Grand Harbour, which activity came to a sudden stop because of an outbreak of plague. Ħal Qormi was most affected by the plague, where 723 died. After 1814, many people from Ħal-Qormi sought work in the cities and harbour area. The importance of manufacturing trades and husbandry increased whilst bread production and milling continued to grow. After 1850, Ħal-Qormi continued to progress through the opening of government and private schools. From the beginning of the twentieth century, Ħal-Qormi was one of the most populated cities with various services of drainage, water, gas, tram transport and electricity.

During the First World War, many people from Ħal-Qormi volunteered with the pioneer corp on the attack on the Salonika peninsula in Greece, whilst others were employed at the airships station on the Eastern part of Qormi known as San Bastjan. During the Second World War, besides the fact that many locals were part of the armed forces, Qormi itself was a refugee centre for residents from the Cottonera. Today one finds that all of Ħal-Qormi’s areas have been developed with various buildings, centres, a local council as well as two parishes.