Hotel de la Plage

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The original 1931 building was retained when extensions were later built on either side
The hotel made an imposing sight at night

Hotel de la Plage is one of the landmarks of St Helier, occupying a prominent position on the Havre des Pas seafront.

Shipyard site

It was built in 1931 on the site of Thomas Bisson's ship building yard. The building of the hotel necessitated the demolition of a timber store which had been Vautier's boat store and was later used as a garage for some of the island's earliest motorised excursion vehicles,owned by Mr Bayliss of the nearby Bay View Guest House.

When it was built the hotel was famous for the teas served on its roof garden to orchestral accompaniment.

The site was earlier occupied by the Beach Inn and ladies' changing rooms were situated nearby leading to the ladies' bathing stage, until the sea water bathing pool was constructed.

The hotel was taken over by Seymour Hotels and rebuilt before reopening in 1963 under the management of Robin Seymour, son and grandson of the group's founders, and his wife Rita. The hotel has now closed and been converted into apartments.

Eddie Chapman

One of the hotel's most infamous guests was Eddie Chapman, a pre-war criminal and wartime spy. During the Second World War he offered his services to Nazi Germany as a spy and a traitor whilst intending all along to become a British double agent.

Eddie Chapman

After serving with the Coldstream Guards in the 1930s, Chapman deserted and became a safecracker with London West End gangs and spent several stretches in jail for these crimes. He had affairs with a number of women on the fringes of London high society and then allegedly blackmailed them with photographs taken by an accomplice.

Well into his criminal career he was arrested in Scotland and charged with blowing up the safe of the headquarters of the Edinburgh Co-operative Society. Let out on bail, he fled to Jersey where he attempted unsuccessfully to continue his criminal activities.

Chapman was dining with his lover and future fiancée Betty Farmer at the Hotel de la Plage immediately before his arrest and made a spectacular exit through the dining room window (which was shut at the time) when he saw undercover police coming to arrest him. Later that same night he committed the burglary for which he had to begin serving two years in a Jersey prison.

Chapman was still in prison when the Channel Islands were invaded by the Germans, who soon transferred him to Fort de Romainville in Paris. Chapman, ever the opportunist, offered his services to them as a turncoat agent. He was trained by the Abwehr in explosives, radio communications, parachute jumping and other subjects in France and dispatched to England to commit acts of sabotage.

He was dropped into Cambridgeshire on 16 December 1942 and surrendered himself to the local police before offering his services to MI5.

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