The Malta Union Club History
“The Malta Union Club was founded in 1826 by British officers and civilians serving in Malta who took the top floor less the ballroom of the Auberge de Provence, in the Strada Reale since re-named Republic Street in Valletta. Initially, membership was restricted to eighty paying members and a few honorary members. Members were charged an entrance fee of ₤4 and a quarterly subscription of £1. Among the first Honorary Members one finds Sir Walter Scott, Benjamin Disraeli and William Makepeace Thackeray.
In 1846 the number of paying members was increased to a hundred and fifty. In view of the crowded environment at the Auberge de Provence the Committee decided to open a branch in the country in the vicinity of Casolani’s fishponds at Msida wherever they were located, It was not until 1851 that the Club acquired the first floor of the Auberge. Following the acquisition of the ground floor in 1862 the Committee decided to increase membership to thee hundred. On the 1st. January 1903 the Club took over the entire building by title of emphyteusis for ninety nine years.
In 1874, the Club relinquished the tenancy of the Msida branch and opened another at 19, Ghar il-Lembi Street, Sliema. In 1889, the Sliema branch was moved to a more convenient site overlooking a parade ground in Ghar id-Dud where weekly military band performances were held.
Ladies were first allowed into the Club in 1907. It was only that year that a room accessible through a separate side entrance was provided for their exclusive use so that they “would be quite cut off and would not in any way interfere with the comfort and privacy of members.” However, three years later following pressure by HRH the Duchess of Connaught, a ladies’ entrance was opened on the façade of the Auberge.
In 1931, the Club took over the United Services Ladies Bathing Club at Qui-Si-Sana and transformed it into the Ladies Bathing Club section. A bye-law authorizing ladies to invite gentlemen to swim in the area was approved. The problem of providing changing rooms for men was solved by agreement with the United Services Sports Club, nowadays known as the Marsa Sports Club, which operated an all male beach facility in the vicinity. The amenities were placed at the disposal of Malta Union Club members and male guests of the neighbouring Ladies Bathing Club. This marked the start of the long association between the clubs on the joint use of Tigne` Beach.
At the Club’s Annual General Meeting held on the 26th March 1992 the members approved an amendment to the Club’s Rules whereby ladies, previously classified as “subscribers”, were given the right to become full members.
In the years preceding the expiry of the lease in an effort to obtain suitable alternative premises the Club entered into negotiations with the superior owners Gasan Properties Ltd. On the 5th June 1997 following several Extraordinary General Meetings convened to seek the members’ approval of the Company’s proposals the members accepted and gave the required two thirds majority to an improved offer namely, the provision in perpetuity of finished premises subject to the surrender of the original site prior to the year 2000. In 2002 the Club took possession and moved into the current premises on three floors with parking facilities underneath. An inaugural reception under the auspices of HE President Guido De Marco attended by 900 members was held on the 11th October 2002.
Meanwhile, on the international sporting front the Malta Tennis Federation invited the Malta Union Club to host an ATP Challenger Tournament. The event was held annually between the years 1994 and 1996 and attracted world ranked participants. Besides US$25,000 in prize money the tournament qualified participants for important World Ranking computer points beneficial to Malta’s national team players who through a wild card allocation system entered the main draw earning points in the process. Moreover the presence of many excellent tennis foreign players spurred Maltese youngsters to reach a higher standard in competitive tennis. MUC members played a vital role in the tournaments’ organization.
The Club and the Malta Squash Federation have an ongoing agreement for members of Malta’s national side to train and hold tournaments on the premises.
In July 2012, the Malta Union Club was registered as a multi-disciplinary sports club and became a member (KMS/245) of the Kunsill Malti ghall-Isport,
Among the indoor sports practised on the premises are snooker, petanque, skittles and darts. Separate rooms are provided for specific card and board games. The Bridge Room is considered as the islands’ leading and best equipped amenity in its category and a lending library is also available.
The Club runs two open air tennis courts, two squash courts and in conjunction with the Marsa Sports Club, the Tigne` Bathing Beach. The Club operates a bar and restaurant that provide snacks on a daily basis, offer curry lunches on Thursdays and Sunday lunches. Several organizations, such as the British Residents Association, The George Cross Island Association, The Corona Society and others hold meetings and some of their functions at the Club.
The Club has several reciprocal arrangements in place with similar Clubs (residential and otherwise) in Europe and the Commonwealth.