La Folie Inn

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La Folie Inn in 1820

La Folie Inn is St Helier Harbour's tavern, and if its position, far from the areas today used by commercial craft and visiting yachtsmen, seems unusual, when it was built some time in the first four decades of the 18th century, it was positioned on one of the only two jetties available for mooring and protection from the elements.

Its name may have had something to do with the perceived foolishness of building a house on the water's edge, or perhaps the whole harbour development in an area so far distant from the town centre and drying out completely twice a day, was thought to be a folly.

La Folie had the unusual claim to fame of a public house of being owned by the States of Jersey and administered by the Harbours and Airport Committee. The original building was demolished and rebuilt some time between 1723, which seems to be the most reliable date for its origination, and 1850, when it was realigned to face the entrance of the Harbour.

Now La Folie has closed and is threatened with demolition as part of a controversial scheme to create luxury flats with private moorings.

Doreen Le Quelenec behind the bar

1985 booklet

From a 1985 booklet on Jersey pubs and inns by Glenn George, then landlord of the Old Smugglers Inn at Ouaisne:

'There are few pubs where you can rub shoulders with a French fisherman, talk to a Jersey sailor, and then buy a live crab or lobster to take home for supper. But then locals like La Folie Inn are few and far between.
'Tucked away in a sheltered corner of St Helier Harbour this tiny pub oozes character - right from its authentic nautical decor to its authentic nautical clientele.
'It's the meeting place for the Harbour folk - the fishermen, seamen, sailors, pilots and dockers. To them, drinking and conversation are a serious business, so you won't find any pub games, television or juke box at La Folie - just good honest company and good honest beer.
'The pub has been this way since 1733, and it will take more than the twentieth century to change its habits. It sells beer in a rather unusual way. To make things easier for the many foreign sailors and yachtsmen, all the beers are numbered. You simply order a pint of `Number 3', thus eliminating the language problem.
'Outside the Fo'c'sle Bar is the area where the local fishermen sell their catch. It couldn't be fresher. and the range of fish, crabs and lobsters are always well below town prices.'
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