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History Of Balzan

The first dwellings

The earliest records of dwellings in Balzan date back to 1419-20. In the Militia List of the same date, Balzan is reported to have had around twenty dwellers residing within its boundaries.Census reports dating back to 1575 show that there were a total of 60 dwellings in Balzan at the time, where approximately 500 people lived. These dwellings included townhouses of the wealthy as well as farms. . Up to a few years ago old farmhouses such as those known as Ta’ Sajrunies and tad- Dingejruti were still standing in Quarry Lane.

A Fluctuating Population

In 1646 the number of households had increased to 140, however the population had only increased by less than a hundred people amounting to 584. Up to that date, Balzan was part of the neighbouring village of Birkirkara. When Balzan became an independent village with its own parish church, in 1655, the number of households increased to 1,400. Nevertheless in spite of the increase in houses, the population decreased; to 530. The fluctuating population still goes on today as it did throughout the history of the village: During the war Balzan’s population increased drastically, when people from the Cottonera area came to seek refuge in the quiet village of Balzan. In fact they liked it so much that many of them stayed and never returned!

The Origin of “Balzan”

In Malta, many village names are identical to certain family names, as in Attard and Lija. It is believed by some, therefore, that the village inherited its name from a Sicilian family whose family name was Balzan (or Balzano). Other historians claim that ‘balzan’ refers to a Sicilian tax collector that could have come to Malta to collect taxes for his Sicilian feudal master. This tax collector could have resided in Balzan thus giving the village its present name.

Timeline

  • Early 15th Century First dwellers arrive in Balzan
  • 1st February 1575 Balzan residents present a petition to Mons. Duzina, appealing to have their village become a separate parish.
  •  14th August 1655 Balzan becomes a separate parish. On that day, Bishop Balaguer gives permission for the building of a new parish church in Balzan. The first parish priest was Fr.Adriano Zarb.
  • 26th December 1669 The foundation stone of the new parish church is laid, by Parish Priest Dominic Ellul.
  • 23rd January 1695 Bishop Cocco Palmieri blesses the completed church, and in 1781 Bishop Labini consecrated it.
  • 1868 The church is given its titular statue, of the Annunciation of Our Lady, completed by Master Salvu Dimech.
  • 1890 The Annunciation Philharmonic Society is formed.
  • 22nd October 1903 6 people die among 42 injured in an explosion while fireworks were being made in the old premises of the Annunciation Philharmonic Society
  • 1920 St. Gabriel Band Club is established.
  • 3rd May 1954 Queen Elizabeth II visits Balzan.
  • 1965 Village feast starts being held in summer instead of its actual day due to harsh weather conditions which had often spoilt external festivities held in March.
  • 1923 MUSEUM is founded in Balzan.
  • 1940 After the Supreme Courts were hit in an air bombing attack, the courts are transferred from Valletta to Balzan. Hearings took place in the building which today houses Balzan Local Council, among other government offices.
  • 1940-1943 During the second world war Balzan housed many refugees coming from Valletta and the Cottonera area. Refugees flooded in with nothing but a few clothes on a horse-driven cart pleading Balzan residents to show mercy and take them into their dwellings. The population doubled in size!
  • 1948 Balzan Parish Church receives its big bell. Many residents gathered to see it being hauled up into the belfry.
  • 1965 Prime Minister G. Borg Olivier visits Balzan on the occasion of the 75th anniversary since the foundation of the Annunciation Philharmonic Society.
  • 1993 The first local council is formed.
  • 16th October 1994 Balzan Youth Centre is founded.

Population of Balzan

Year No. of persons
1931 1661
1948 2637
1957 2734
1967 3301
1985 4781
1995 3560
1997 3654
1998 4019
1999 4030
2002 3732
2003 3785
2004 3807
2005 3798
2006 3975
2007 4038
2008 4129
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