During their quasi-400-year-long-rule of Malta, the Knights of Malta established dockyard facilities within the Grand Harbour to maintain their fleet of galleys, which were spread across the towns of Senglea, Valletta and Vittoriosa.
When Malta became a British protectorate in 1800, these facilities were inherited, and gradually consolidated, by the Royal Navy. With the loss of Menorca, Malta swiftly became the Navy's principal Mediterranean base.
The Royal Navy Dockyard was initially located around Dockyard Creek, and occupied several of the dockyard buildings formerly used by the Knights of Malta. By 1850 the facilities included storehouses, a ropery, a small steam factory, victualling facilities, houses for the officers of the Yard, and most notably a dry dock – the first to be provided for a Royal Dockyard outside Britain. Begun in 1844, the dry dock was opened in 1847; ten years later it was extended to form a double dock (No. 1 and No. 2 dock). Allegedly, marble blocks from the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, were used for the construction of these docks.
Just a short walk from Locanda La Gelsomina, Dockyard Creek offers a fascinating glimpse into the area's rich and varied past.