Picnics

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A fishing party at La Rocque
A beachside bungalow such as this one in Grouville Bay was the ultimate venue for family outings for the well-heeled

Picnics are not unique to Jersey, of course, but they have been a major part of the island's social life for at least 150 years, and still remain so today. Most family photograph albums contain pictures of family groups enjoying a day at the seaside, complete with al fresco meal. Venues for picnics have not been exclusively coastal, but an outing to the beach in a farming family's potato van (suitably cleaned for the occasion) was very much part of the rural way of life in the late 19th and early 20th century.

The arrival of the motor car gave affluent families who were not part of the farming community the opportunity to travel around the island. Although there were certainly families in an earlier age who had their own horse and trap, it was a means of transport which required more space and greater facilities than the motorised vehicles which replaced them. Others would have had to settle for hiring the carriage for their outing, perhaps together with friends and neighbours or as part of an outing for an organised group or business.

The really affluent had their own beach huts, which in pre-Second World War years began to proliferate at St Ouen's Bay, Ouaisne and Grouville, but all of these disappeared during or after the Occupation as more controls began to be exercised over buildings in prime coastal locations.

Seaside picnics

All such activities came to a standstill during the Occupation, but one way or another, most islanders would be part of a group for whom a drive through the countryside, culminating in a picnic at the seaside, was one of the highlights of their year during the 1930s and again after the War.

The train services from St Helier to St Aubin and La Corbière and to Gorey, followed by island-wide bus services, had made it easier and more affordable to organise picnic outings, and as car ownership became more widespread in the 1920s and 1930s, far from being an annual treat, the family picnic became a regular occurrence during the summer months. Jersey families prided themselves in knowing just the right spot to find a parking space and a stretch of coastline sheltered from whichever direction the wind was blowing, and inaccessible to holidaymakers dependent on public transport.

Among the most popular locations for a picnic outing were the large beaches of St Ouen's, St Aubin's and Grouville Bays, but others looked for the challenge of a climb down to Portelet, Beauport, Plemont and other less accessible beaches; visits to the caves at Plemont and Greve de Lecq; or low-water fishing among the rock pools of the east coast.

Our gallery of pictures also includes images of seaside chalets, which proliferated during the years between the two world wars, so that by the time the Germans occupied the island in 1940, dozens could be found along the Royal Bay of Grouville in the east, at Ouaisne on the south coast, and along the length of St Ouen's Bay in the west. The Germans removed virtually all of them as they built seawalls and defences along the coast, and stricter planning conditions in the years after the war meant that few could be rebuilt.

Gallery

A well-to-do family poses for a photograph on the beach in the 19th century


1900 picnic
A family bungalow close to Gorey in 1915
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