A Jersey Archive history of Halkett Place

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What's your street's story? - Halkett Place


HalkettPlPMLaurens.jpg
A photograph by Philip Morel Laurens shows the street with cobblestones


This article is based on a Jersey Archive Street Story presentation in 2015


The development of Halkett Place in the first half of the 19th century is part of the expansion of St Helier which occurred at this time. The major driver for its growth was the building of the Central Market.

This was not the market as it is known today but a previous one built on the same site, which dates from the very early years of the 19th century, when a decision was made to relocate the market from the Royal Square.

Access road

At this time Halkett Place was used as an access road for carts bringing in market goods and it is difficult to appreciate today that the market was built on open, somewhat boggy, grassland, on the edge of the town. The States minutes for 10 May 1800 refer to the decision to purchase land from Madame Morin and a large house from Sarah Fiott, in order to build the new market. The contract was passed on 26 June 1800.

The new market required other establishments servicing the needs of the traders and their customers. In the following 25 years development in this area increased rapidly and a line of shops and an inn were built facing the lane, or Route de la Nouveau Marché as it was known.

By 1825 the street had been renamed Halkett Place after Sir Colin Halkett, the Lieut-Governor. Government House had been located in Halkett Place since 1800, when a property was purchased in the current location of Burtons and New Look. [[Editor's note: The house did not stand on the corner, but was set back some way from, and facing King Street, behind what was Woolworth for many years and is now New Look. The corner of King Street and Halkett Place was part of the property's garden, which stretched some way back along Halkett Place.

An opening ceremony for the street was held on 6 August 1825. Ironically, having accepted the honour, Sir Colin Halkett moved out of the street that was named after him. His letter books show that he thought living in Halkett Place was unhealthy and damp and that a property on St Saviour's Hill was better suited to his needs.

Among the earliest buildings in Halkett Place was the Independent Chapel. Land for this building was acquired on 11 November 1807 by Francis Perrot, the first preacher. The first child baptised in the chapel was Thomas Bates, in April 1809, followed by his sister ten days later.

The current building, with the unusual octagonal interior, was built in 1855 and designed by specialist chapel designers Poulton and Woodman of Reading.

The Red Lion pub on the right

Red Lion inn

The growing street also had a pub, the Red Lion Inn, now called the Halkett. The pub was originally much smaller than it is today, as it now incorporates the building next door. Built in 1824 it went through several owners in its first few years.

A majority of the clientele would have been market traders and shoppers, but it was also the departure point for early carriage tours of the island. These were heavily marketed, and one advertisement claimed that you could make a 16-mile trip for one shilling, departing twice daily and once on Sunday from outside the Red Lion. There were at least two commercial stables located in Halkett Place, including the Paragon Stables - later Paragon Garage.

The Red Lion was the scene of scandal and murder in 1851 when a French dentist, Jacques Fouquet, shot the husband of his lover, Eliza Derbyshire. Frederick Derbyshire, her estranged husband, was known as a troublemaker. He was wounded by the bullet but the fatal blow was said to have been caused by him falling and hitting his head on the fender of an iron fireplace. Hospital records show that he died the next day.

The jury at the trial of Fouquet brought in an unusual verdict of 'more guilty than innocent', by a majority of 25 to four. He was sentenced to hang but this was commuted to tranportation. In 1858 the inn was put up for sale. Included in the fixtures and fittings was a skittle alley which ran across the inn and faced Waterloo Street.

Drapery fire

In July 1866 there was a fire at 26 Halkett Place, the premises of a draper named Ogier. The fire spread to neighbouring shops including Walker's Pharmacy, which was full of chemicals. Mr Walker was uninsured and consequently was financially ruined.

Rumours began to spread that Ogeir had started the fire deliberately as an insurance fraud. He was arrested, brought to trial and found guilty. He was sentenced to transportation and served three years in a British prison. He was given a pardon in 1869 as evidence emerged that there may have been other causes for the blaze. This fire also provoked much discussion on improvements that needed to be made to the efficiency of the fire service and the supply of water.

The first market building is on the left

Jeweller John Pope Genge was another resident of Halkett Place. He was one of the founding members and president of the Jersey Swimming Club. Mr Genge also had an eye for a novelty and went as far as having a large time ball installed on the roof of his shop. Newspapers reported that it was tall enough to be seen from as far away as St Peter. The time ball had a telegraphic link to Greenwich and dropped at 10 eachmorning so that watches could be accurately set for the day.

55 Halkett Place is now Rio Hairdereesrs. On 6 August 1824 Anne Le Montais bought a plot of land to build a property which she sold in 1827. In the following years it was the bakery of Hugh Noel. It has also been Lesbirel's Caesarean Auction Rooms, and for more than 30 years it was the Kookatella Tea Warehouse, owned by Edward Messervy.

Touzel's

Another familiar name in Halkett Place is Touzel's. The business started in the Parade in the 1840s. There were three Touzel brothers, one of whom purchased a steam mill for processing grain. This developed into a corn and feed business that supplied food for the large number of horses that were used in commercial and domestic life.

George Touzel took over the business with his son, also George. After the son's early death, his father continued until his own death. The business was left to his grandson Francis, who was still a child. After the First World War and the decline of horse0drawn transport, the business changed to the sale of pet food. Tourzel's remained a familiar name in Halkett Place until it was acquired by Animal Kingdom.

Halkett Place School stood on the site now occupied by the Jersey LIbrary. It started as a charitable institution for the poor children of St Helier in 1812. A charitable trust was formed and the school was run with donations and administered by the church. At this time it was right on the edge of development and may have taken pupils from farms in the surrounding area as well as children from town. In 1862 the school held a grand 50th jubilee with entertainment and tea for 70 children in the Central Market.

A mrmorial to the large number of former pupils who were killed in the Great War has been relocated to the back of the library building.

In 1982 a decision was made that the school lacked the facilities required for a modern educational building. In 1983, after more than 170 years as a school, it closed.

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