Grève d'Azette

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On the coast
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Greve d'Azette


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View from the Dicq in the 1970s

As the first large expanse of sand beyond the eastern boundary of St Helier, Greve d'Azette has long been popular with beachgoers


Greve d'Azette
The Victoria Sea Baths, which were probably at Greve d'Azette, were advertised as 'free from sewer taint' and available hot and cold. The horse-drawn bathing machines were moved to the water's edge, allowing Victorian bathers to change and 'partake of the waters without offending public decency'

The parish of St Saviour has its only short stretch of coastline at The Dicq, to the east of Havre des Pas, which was developed as an exclusive seaside resort in Victorian times, and then comes Greve d'Azette as the St Clement coastline opens up in the direction of Green Island.

The remains of an ancient forest bed are buride only a foot below the sand, indicating that the island was somewhat larger in this quarter in days of old, although the construction of the Dicq, a dyke on the lines of those built in Holland, has ensured that apart from when it was overwhelmed in 1796 and 1812, the low-lying coastal area of St Clement has been kept largely dry.

The construction of a seawall gave further protection and enabled the whole area behind to be extensively developed in the second half of the 20th century, so that what was previously occupied by farmers and fishermen, became an extension of St Helier's urban sprawl.

Recollections

Sylvia Pinel writes:

"I was born at a yard of cottages at Greve D’Azette, called Prospect Place, as were my brothers, Roy Langlois, Graham and Alan. Our Mum said that they lived in the cottage on the roadside to begin with (I think it had an upstairs added after she sold it), but when their family expanded, the cottage got too small, and they moved to Number 3. There was seven of us altogether, two girls and five boys; sadly three of our brothers died, one at at 8 years old, one at 4 years old and the youngest only lived for about 15 minutes. It was very sad for the family especially our parents.

There were no toilets in the houses in those days, you had to go to a toilet in the yard. There was one for each house. You had a bath once a week, and that was in a tin bath in front of the fire. All the kids jumped in one after the other; you were a bit unlucky if you were the last one. It was hard work for our parents; the water had to be boiled in kettles because there was no running hot water. No mod cons then!

Making butter

I remember when my Mum had some some extra milk she would boil it, skim the cream off the top and make some butter. This was after the war, we wouldn’t have had milk like that during the war. It didn’t make a lot of butter, but it was a treat. Milk was boiled a lot then, otherwise it would have turned sour. No fridges then. The milk was kept in a bucket of cold water to keep it cool.

I remember as well that everybody had their clothes lines on the beach. It was lovely seeing all the clothes blowing in the wind. That must have been after the occupation; imagine doing that now! That wouldn’t be allowed, the States would soon come down on you. I wasn’t very old, but I remember it so well. I suppose it was because we weren’t allowed to go on the beach during the war and it was so exciting to be allowed down there again afterwards. I remember my sister and her friend getting the sheets off the line and telling me to lay down on one and they tossed me up and down in the air. I remember that as vividly as anything. They wouldn’t be able to do that now.

I was only small then, and none of us weighed much after the war. When it was a lovely summer evening all the neighbors used to sit on their steps, or on the beach, and have a good laugh and natter. I think everybody was in a jubilant mood because at last the war was over. It was a really lovely atmosphere.

I remember my Mum swimming in the sea. I said to her “what a good swimmer you are”. She didn’t want to smash my illusions, but a few years later she told me that she had one arm and leg on the sand under the water. and that she was hopping along. She was lovely. She and her brothers and sisters never learnt to swim, her mother didn’t like her, and her brothers and sisters, going on the beach or in the sea after their father had drowned in St Clements Bay near the Dicq.

View from the Dicq on a busy day in 1967 - Picture Jersey Evening Post

Gallery

Viewed from Greve d'Azette in this painting by Alfred Clint, troops parade on the beach at Havre des Pas. The date of this picture is uncertain. It is in the collection of Jersey Heritage and a plate on the frame identifies it as 'Review of troops at peninsular - Alfred Klint, 1830'. It cannot have been that early because the 'martello' type tower at Pointe des Pas was not constructed until 1834. Clint (not Klint) is known to have painted other scenes of Jersey in the 1850s, but he may have visited before. The beach on this side of St Helier had not previously been known as a location for military parades - Bel Royal, to the west was the location for the annual Militia parade. But further research since we added the picture to the site has revealed that Militia inspections were held here. In the 1870s the St Helier Battalion of the Royal Militia Island of Jersey is known to have paraded at Greve d'Azette, when separate parades were held for each Regiment and Battalion. Given that Clint was not a noted British artist, the scene is of dubious historical value, and no attempt has been made to correct the erroneous information on the frame plate, several historians have expressed surprise that public money was used by Jersey heritage to acquire the picture. Neil Molyneux, a past-president of La Société Jersiaise wrote: 'The painting was bought by Jersey Heritage a few years ago (maybe 2013) from the UK. the work of one of the very many minor/amateur artists who visited Jersey. I don't think it can be relied upon for historical accuracy as probably worked up later from sketches made here. In particular the troops; probably an attempt to portray the annual Militia Review, which took place in Saint Aubin's Bay, but the artist either didn't know, or didn't care. The date of the painting could well be wrong.'
The enlarged centre section of the painting
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