F Le Gallais and Sons
One of Jersey's oldest companies is closing its furniture store in Bath Street in St Helier with the loss of six jobs. F Le Gallais and Sons Limited has been selling furniture from Bath Street for about 100 years.
It has decided in the current economic climate to close its furniture retail business, but its other businesses are unaffected. The company said the decision to close the Bath Street shop was a painful one.
The company was founded in 1825 as a cabinet maker and has since moved into removals, storage and an estate agency.
Managing Director Tim Le Gallais, the sixth generation of his family to get involved in the business, said part of it was no longer profitable.
He said: "You have to be fairly realistic when you make these decisions for the business and the future for your shareholders. "And as long as you can carry it out in the most sympathetic way possible then I think that's a good thing to do, and that's what we're trying to take forward in closing the store down."
Le Gallais was started as a cabinet making business in Broad Street in 1825. This was the island's main shopping street at the time, but as the business grew, Richard Le Gallais, the founder, had to look for larger premises and he bought a large plot of land on the corner of Bath Street and Minden Place, where the town was starting to spread out to the north-east over swampy ground and orchards.
This was developed into the substantial building which stands there today.
The business would later diversify into estate agency and removals, and in 1835 a large repository was opened further along Bath Street on the corner with Hilgrove Street. This was to prove highly important during the German Occupation when many families left the contents of their homes in store before evacuating from the island.
However, the warehouse was destroyed in a disastrous fire in 1949, and in 1954 the main furniture shop was razed to the ground in another massive fire.
Carlyle Le Gallais
At the time the business was in the hands of Carlyle Le Gallais, grandson of Richard and son of Frank Le Gallais, after whom the business had been renamed. Carlyle was a prominent politician, only half-way through a six-year term as a Senator, one of the senior members of the States. He was forced to resign his seat so that he could devote all his efforts to resurrecting the company's fortunes.
Although the Le Gallais family has been extensively researched by genealogists, there appears to be a major gap in church records which prevents the lineage of this branch being taken back beyond Richard's parents.
Richard Le Gallais, the founder of the business, was born in St Helier in 1803 and baptised on 4 January 1804. He married Susan Nason in 1824 and together they had 14 children. His parents were Richard and Susanne Sorel also from St Helier, but there is no baptism record for either.
It is a strong possibility, however, that Richard snr was himself the son of another Richard, baptised in St Helier in 1744, the son of Jean Le Gallais and Jeanne Piquet. Jean was the son of another Richard Le Gallais. Jean and Jeanne, both from St Helier, were married in St Clement in 1743.