Archive pictures of the week - 2011

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Elizabeth Castle 1786 with an embryo St Helier Harbour

This magnificent etching of Elizabeth Castle in 1786 shows how tantalisingly close to the St Helier shoreline the castle stands, but plans which existed at the time and have resurfaced on several occasions over the past 200 years to create a large, deep-water harbour linking the castle to the shore have never materialised. The unknown artist's work shows just how tiny the embryo St Helier Harbour was, and how isolated it was from the town it was intended to serve

Harry Vardon, Jersey-born most successful British golfer of all time

Harry Vardon, Jersey and Britain's most successful golfer of all time, won the Open Championship on a record six occasions, and also the US Open. He had a long career, first winning the Open in 1896, and again in 1898, 1899, 1903, 1911 and 1914. His US Open win came in 1900, and he was still considered good enough to represent the United Kingdom against the USA in 1921. This picture is believed to show him teeing off in the Open Championship in 1903

Abraham de Gruchy and Co

Abraham de Gruchy and Co, a business which is still in existence in St Helier's King Street, was founded in 1810 in St Peter and moved to the growing shopping centre in the town of St Helier 15 years later. This is an early promotional picture produced by the store

Mont Orgueil Castle

Mont Orgueil Castle in the 17th century

The Weighbridge

The Weighbridge is one of the most photographed parts of Jersey, and is the subject of many early postcards, some of which were expertly hand-coloured to produce exceptional images of this important part of St Helier when it was very different from the way it is today. This picture was probably taken in the early years of the 20th century, and shows a lively scene, although nowhere near as busy as it would have been during the potato season, when hundreds of horse-drawn vans would have queued up to have their barrels of potatoes weighed before being exported. The two main buildings in the picture still stand today, their facades largely unaltered. On the left is the Southampton Hotel, now only a bar and no longer a hotel. There are plans to restore the facade and rebuild the interior as office space. The Royal Yacht Hotel on the right has been much extended in recent years, but still retains the old facade on the corner of Mulcaster Street
This is the same area, but viewed from the heights of Fort Regent, in the early 1970s. How The Weighbridge has changed. The area in the foreground which was out of the top picture to the right, was once a small circular garden, enclosed by railings, with a statue of Queen Victoria in the centre. In this picture the gardens have gone, to make way for a bus terminus, and the statue of Her Majesty can just be seen in the middle of the car park beyond. This was only a temporary home because, despite promises that she would eventually return to her original spot, she has been standing for over 35 years in the Triangle Park (renamed Victoria Park) behind the Grand Hotel, which is the last building in the row of the Esplanade stretching into the middle distance of the photograph. Today the buses are in a new terminus, together with a shopping mall, in a redevelopment of the block in the centre of the picture, and the car park is also no more, having been transformed into Liberation Square, the island's permanent celebration of the end of the German Occupation. The start of the Albert Pier can just be seen on the left of the picture. Today there is a large reclaimed area beyond with housing and land still to be developed as part of the island's financial centre

Jersey Western Railway

When the Jersey Western Railway opened its service from St Helier to St Aubin in 1870, much of the track ran on sandy soil just above the high tide mark. At La Haule the line had to be raised on trestles, and a trial run train paused here on 29 September, four weeks before the line was officially opened, for a publicity photograph

St Aubin

10 July 2011

Three pictures for the price of one this week, showing the same view of St Aubin a few decades apart, and then over a century later. In the upper picture the terminal shed and hotel built to accommodate the trains and passengers of the Jersey Western Railway can be clearly seen in the foreground, built on reclaimed land where, earlier in the 19th century, there was a busy shipyard on the shoreline, as can be seen in the etching below. The artist has used a little licence in creating a hilly skyline, whereas, as the upper photograph shows, the land above the village of St Aubin is fairly flat, stretching away towards Noirmont Point to the left. The lower picture also suggests that there was a more substantial terrace of merchants' houses along the inner wall of the harbour. As the colour photograph at the bottom of the page shows, save for the addition of a restaurant on the quayside beside what is now St Brelade's Parish Hall, the harbour has changed little in the past century, and many of the buildings constructed in the 19th century are still there today
SrAubinShipyards.jpg
AubinBirdseye.jpg

Troops on the march

26 July 2011

There is a stark contrast between these two pictures taken only a few months apart. The top picture shows the Royal Jersey Militia marching through the streets of St Helier in 1939. Not many weeks had passed before the island had beeh occupied by German troops in the summer of 1940 and it was soldiers of the Wehrmacht who were marching through the streets of town. The upper picture was taken quite openly; the picture below was taken clandestinely through curtained windows. Discovery would have incurred a severe penalty for the photographer
GermansQueenSt.jpg

Horse-drawn bus

4 August 2011

In the 1890s Down's horse buses operated between Rouge Bouillon and Havre des Pas, where this one was photographed. The driver was Thomas Louden, who was born in 1857. The bus carried an advertisement of de Faye's aerated table waters.

Victoria College OTC

16 August 2011

Many of the Victoria College pupils in this picture of the Officer Training Corps taken in 1911, would soon be going to war. Dozens of Old Victorians were killed in the Great War and some achieved the highest honour of the Victoria Cross, named after the same monarch as their school.

Royal Visit

23 August 2011

King George V and Queen Mary visited Jersey in 1921, ten years after his coronation. During their stay the Royal couple visited the States Building and Victoria College, attended a reception at Government House,met the public and particularly schoolchildren at Springfield, where the King received the gift of a Jersey cow from the island, and drove between engagements in a magnificent open-back Rolls Royce, which enabled the maximum number of islanders to get a clear view of their monarch

Charing Cross

30 August 2011

This picture of Charing Cross was taken around the end of the 19th century or early in the 20th.There is virtually no traffic, save for a bicycle and a horse and trap in King Street, which is on the left. The wider street on the right is Broad Street, which was St Helier's first main street. The column erected earlier in the 19th century in honour of St Helier Constable Pierre Le Sueur can just be seen at the end of Broad Street on the left. The facades of many of the builings in both streets today remain much as they were over a century ago, although many shopfronts have been modernised and some buildings in Broad Street have been demolished and replaced by modern structures. Click on the Google logo below to see Charing Cross today
Click to see Charing Cross today

Weighbridge hotels

8 September 2011

A very similar view to this of the Weighbridge has appeared earlier as our picture of the week, but this is such a fine image that we had no hesitation in publishing it. It clearly shows the three main hotels, on the left the Southampton, on the right the Royal Yacht Club, and in the middle the Star Hotel at the bottom of Mulcaster Street. The horses and carriages outside the railings of the Weighbridge Gardens, home to the out-of-sight statue of QUeen Victoria, and the dress of the young ladies in the foreground, suggest that the picture was taken in the last decade of the 19th century, or the very early years of the 20th. Today the Southampton Hotel building still stands, although it is just a bar now, the premises threatened with demolition for a new development. THe Royal Yacht CLub Hotel is now just the Royal Yacht, and has been substantially extended and redeveloped, although the facade of the original building remains largely untact. The Star Hotel is no more, the corner being occupied by a restaurant.

Bathing huts at West Park

21 September 2011

Having just spent a full week in Jersey for the first time in 12 years, I was amazed at how much the island has changed, and not for the better, writes Mike Bisson. But it has changed even more in the century since the time when no respectable Edwardian lady would take to the water without having changed into her voluminous bathing costume in the privacy of a bathing machine. These little huts, which were moved on wheels as the tide rose and fell, were highly popular at the turn of the 19th century and large numbers of them were used at Greve d'Azette, on the east of St Helier, and here at West Park on the other side. There is no record of them having been used on other beaches around the island, which were not nearly as popular in those days because of the difficulty of reaching them from St Helier.

The Kiosk, West Park

30 September

A view of West Park again this week, but looking in the opposite direction from last week's picture of bathing huts. This picture shows The Kiosk, a popular seaside cafe, which has been rebuilt at least twice since this picture was taken early in the 20th century. In the background is the Grand Hotel, and in those days, not only was there a road between them, but also a railway line. Building styles have changed, so have fashions, but still to this day people enjoy sitting in the sunshine on the edge of the promenade enjoying a drink or an ice cream.

Fliquet Tower

17 October

Some of Jersey's original coastal defence towers no longer exist, having been demolished by the Germans during the Occupation, or at an earlier time by the island authorities. Others have been converted into living accommodation, but remain essentially intact. One which still remains, but not exactly as it was when built is Fliquet's tower in the far north-east of the island. For some reason its private owners decided to remove the upper section of the tower, and today (as shown in the picture below) it is but a shadow of its former self. Very few images exist showing the tower as it once was, which makes this 19th century drawing particularly important.
A more recent image of what remains of the tower, its top removed and extra windows added

Dressed for the beach

25 October

An outing to the beach has long been a Jersey tradition. In the early years of the 20th century it was the preserve of those affluent enough to be able to afford the horse and carriage to take them there, and they always dressed for the occasion - not in t-shirts and trainers, but in their Sunday best suits. Hats were seemingly compulsory for ladies and gentlemen in Edwardian days and further protection from the sun was afforded by a dainty parasol: no Factor 30 sunscreen in those days! This picture was taken at the western end of St Brelade's Bay and St Brelade's Bay Hotel, one of the few buildings in the bay in the first decade of the 20th century, can be seen in the background to the right.

West Park's shipyards

2 November

West Park today is dominated by traffic. Sandwiched between the Esplanade on one side - the main gateway to St Helier from the west - and St Aubin's Road and Victoria Avenue on the other, carrying thousands of vehicles a day in either direction, it is undoubtedly the island's busiest crossroads. A century and a half ago things were very different, as this painting which had the place of honour on the cover of the special bulletin published to mark the centenary of La Société Jersiaise in 1973, shows so vividly. Painted by Felix Benoist in 1870, according to a note in the bulletin, the painting shows the area in much greater detail than any of the photographs which survive from that era. The view is from the summit of westmount, where a Victorian family is shown enjoying the outlook. Below them horses graze among rocky outcrops, long since levelled . But it is the scene along the coast which is most fascinating. No sea wall has yet been built, and a large shipyard occupies the shoreline on the right, smoke belching out of its chimney. There are further similar chimneys to the left, one standing next to the site now occupied by the Grand Hotel, which would not appear for another two decades. Benoist shows clearly how the town of St Helier has already spread to what remains its western boundary to this day, the Triangle Park and People's Park providing a valuable open space. This painting, which was in the collection of John Blench at the time of the centenary, is one of the best overall views of the island's capital town to survive from Victorian times. But there is something missing from the picture which suggests that the date of 1870 might not be correct. A year earlier the States had agreed to the establishment of Jersey's first railway, from the Weighbridge to St Aubin. The lines were laid and test runs were taking place in September of the following year. So when did Benoist undertake this work? It seems inconceivable that he would have ignored the railway line when his painting includes so much other detail, so either it was painted in 1870 from sketches made before the track was laid, or the date is incorrect. Can any Jerripedia user thrown any further light on this mystery?

Airline poster

12 November

Something different this week - not a picture of a place in Jersey, but a humourous 1930s poster promoting visits to the island by air with Jersey Airways. In the early part of the decade the Jersey Airways aircraft landed on the beach at West Park, but by 1937 the island's new Airport was operating at St Peter. However, the island had scarcely established its position on the commercial aviation map when war intervened and all passenger flights ceased in mid-1940

Sandcastle competition

17 November

Building castles in the sand was as popular in the 19th century as it is today, and the beach at West Park, below the Grand Hotel, was possibly even more popular then, when this photographs of a sandcastle competition was taken. This was the first dry stretch of sand to the west of the town of St Helier, and residents and visitors staying in town hotels flocked there to relax in the sunshine, although there would have been no need to take sunscreen, because Victorian morals dictated that every inch of flesh should be covered and hats were worn by all

Mystery casino

24 November

Normally Jerripedia attempts to provide answers rather than pose questions, but this week's feature picture is an exception. This little booklet was acquired in a recent on-line auction and sent to Jerripedia with the question 'Did Jersey really have a casino in the 1880s?' The questioner quite rightly observed that during the 20th century Jersey's politicians were implacably opposed to the creation of a public gambling venue, and the likelihood is that a proposal to create one today would prove highly controversial and probably fail. Yet here is a souvenir booklet in French for a casino in its second year of operation in 1884, 'by permission of the Bailiff, Sir Robert Pipon Marett'. The answer to this apparent anomaly lies in the original meaning of the word casino and in the text of the booklet. In the 19th century the word casino was commonly used to describe a building erected for public entertainment, sometimes, but not necessarily, including gambling. The attractions of Jersey's Royal Victorian Hall casino were advertised as sea bathing at 'the best beach in Europe', viewed from a seaside terrace; hot and cold baths; hydrotherapy; restaurant; and a children's play area. The establishment also had a concert hall, offering daily concerts with dancing, a full orchestral concert once a week and a 'concert spirituel' every Sunday afternoon at 2 o'clock. But where was the Royal Victorian Hall, and what happened to it? The booklet says that it is immediately opposite Georgetown railway station, which was on the coast to the east of the junction of Green Road and Greve d'Azette, roughly where Maison Victor Hugo apartments now stand and close to Marina Terrace, where the celebrated French writer Victor Hugo lived some 30 years earlier. As to how long the casino was in business, that is a complete mystery (can any Jerripedia user provide the answer?). It cannot have been that long, because Georgetown Station was closed in 1891, which would hardly have happened if Royal Victorian Hall was providing large numbers of passengers every day.


Harbourmouth

1 December

Pictures of Jersey's St Helier harbourmouth abound, but this one, which is dated to 1890, is one of the most evocative of earlier times, although several elements of the picture don't quite 'fit' with what is known of the harbour at the time. There is no doubt that it is St Helier Harbour, with Commercial Buildings and Fort Regent above in the background, and the mixture of sailing vessels and two-masted steamer moored against the jetty in the middle ground, but what is the little paddle-steamer heading for the pierheads? It seems totally out of scale with the other vessels. And where exactly is the viewpoint of the picture. It must surely be the end of the Victoria Pier on which the father and son fishermen are standing, with the end of the Albert Pier opposite, but the shape of that pierhead seems strangely conical. Perhaps it is a case of poor draftsmanship. And the North Quay, to which the vessels in the middle ground are tied also seems thinner and more distant than it should be. But, of course, it was not until the 20th century that this quay was widened along its full length and renamed the New North Quay, so perhaps the artist has got this aspect of the scene more or less correct. But either the ship on the right, moored in the distant English Harbour wass very big, or the much closer and tinier paddlesteamer was very small! Perhaps a Jerripedia reader with better maritime knowledge than the editor's could provide some explanation.

Charabanc

8 December

The horse-drawn charabanc was the principal means of transport around the island in the 19th and early 20th century and no self-respecting tourist would miss the opportunity to take a trip around the coast or into the countryside. Pictures abound of these excursions, which were also popular with island residents, who would go on group outings with friends, because there was often a photographer on hand as the charabanc loaded in St Helier or stopped at a favourite beauty spot, and pictures would be on sale the following morning, or sometimes when the day's tour finished back in St Helier. These photographs were often printed as postcards and posted to friends back at home, and they are frequently to be found on sale today. This is one of extremely good quality, the exact vintage of which is uncertain. As ever, at the turn of the 19th century, everybody on board was very smartly dressed. Indeed, it is remarkable that two gentlemen on this journey were not wearing hats, which were considered not only fashionable, but virtually compulsory for men and women alike. And few concessions were made to summer weather, with the men always wearing suits, although the ladies could opt for a slightly lighter, albeit all-enveloping dress when it was warmer. This picture seems to have been taken at the other end of the year, with everyone well wrapped up for their open-air journey. As charabanc outings grew more and more popular the vehicles grew longer and wider, and needed a team of horses to pull them.

Holiday camp

17 December

Holiday camp style accommodation was as popular with holidaymakers in Jersey in the latter part of the 20th century as at any other British resort. There were two major camps at Portelet (now demolished and replaced with controversial flats) and Plemont (closed and awaiting an equally controversial redevelopment). Both of these camps date from after World War 2, but there was an earlier one at Grouville which was one of the pioneers of this type of holiday. Situated a short distance inland from the coast in Grouville Bay, the complex consisted of a number of small chalets surrounding a swimming pool, tennis court and other activities, with a large building doubling as a dinining room, bar and evening entertainment centre. Very little is on record about the camp, which is believed to have opened in the 1930s, and not to have re-opened after the end of the German Occupation. Perhaps a Jerripedia reader can provide further information

La Rocque Regatta

29 December

Today La Rocque Harbour is still a home base for a small number of fishing vessels, but in the past it was not only the most important fishing port, but arguably the island's only functioning port. Before St Aubin had jetties built to accommodate commercial vessels and at a time when early attempts to provide shelter at St Helier had been washed away by heavy seas, La Rocque was so important a harbour that vessels used to depart from there with messages for Guernsey. The importance of the port to the little south coast village continued well into the 20th century, and was recognised once a year with a regatta, in which fishing boats which would normally operate off the south coast and as far as the Minquiers, would participate in races. It was one of the social events of the year, drawing large crowds from all over the island.
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