Pomme d'Or Hotel
An artist's impression of the hotel in the first decade of the 20th century, showing the extensive gardens between the Wharf Street and Weighbridge sections of the hotel. The Southampton Hotel to the right has been 'airbrushed' out by the artist. In the bottom left corner of the picture is the Pomme d'Or annexe, which stood on the corner of Conway Street and the Esplanade. The coal store on the opposite corner appears to be an integral part of the hotel, but was not acquired until some 50 years later, after the Second World War
A number of hotels lay claim to being Jersey's oldest, and having opened in 1837, the Pomme d'Or hotel has been trading for 175 years, placing it well among the earliest.
The hotel's finest hour was on 9 May 1945, when it was the focus for the celebrations of the Liberation of Jersey from the German Occupation. A large crowd gathered outside the hotel to see the Union Flag raised for the first time in five years. The hotel had undergone a major rebuilding in 1937-38, to be completed in time for the Germans to arrive and requisition the hotel for their naval headquarters. The hotel has been refurbished and extended several times since then and now overlooks Liberation Square, which is the island's major commemoration of the end of a darker period.
However, the hotel did not start its life in the prominent waterfront position it has occupied for over a century, having been developed on the other side of the block on Wharf Street. It took its name from a cider-making business opposite and a brand name which was as famous in Jersey in the mid-1800s as Mary Ann beer became in the 20th century. The hotel was built by the Pellier family on the site of a private house, previously run as Dale's boarding house.
Philip Ahier's Historical Hotels and Inns of Jersey says that it was situated between two other hostelries, the Navy Hotel and an inn known as The Three Tuns. At this time Wharf Street was a much busier area, having not long been reclaimed from the sea, and the buildings to the seaward side of it were largely warehouses and other stores.
The Weighbridge frontage of the Pomme d'Or, which was to become an iconic feature of Jersey life before and during the Occupation, and particularly during the glorious hours of Liberation on 9 May 1945, was originally a merchant's store, incorporated into the hotel as it grew in popularity during the second half of the 19th century; extended, and then left derelict for five years in the second half of the 1920s until it was acquired on 5 February 1930 by Mr and Mrs George Seymour, who were to include it in what would become the island's largest hotel group.
The hotel was mentioned in Auguste Luchet's Souvenir de Jersey written in about 1844. He says that the hotel was under French managament "an establishment replete with good things and noted for its gaiety, where the house, the service, the attention, the wines and the brandies are all French. This theme was to be resurrected when the hotel was rebuilt nearly a century later in 1937 after several changes of ownership.
When the Pomme d'Or was first established, Jersey was going through a period of impassioned party politics, with the Rose and Laurel parties having taken over from the Magots and Charlots, which had been active until the wars with France in the early 19th century. Each party chose a hostelry as its headquarters, and the Laurels met at the Pomme d'Or, with the Rose Party just up the road at the British Hotel in Broad Street
No doubt because of the reputation the Pomme d'Or had established in France, Victor Hugo stayed there for a few days when he first arrived in Jersey, before finding accommodation at 2 Marine Terrace.
An advertisement for the hotel appeared in the French newspaper La Reforme on 4 January 1851:
- "Mme Veuve Boisnet a l'Honneur d'informer Messieurs les habitants de cette ile et Messieurs les voyageurs qui frequent les iles Anglaises qu'ils trouveront dans son establishment justement renomme bonne table d'hote a 10 et a 5 heures. Salons particuliers pour les familles et toute les comforts desires. Messieurs les voyageurs de Commerce trouverone tous les renseignements, et de bons magazins pour merchandises. Mme Boisnet a toujours dans cette le Magazin de Commerce trouveront tous Francais et de l'absinthe en gros et en detail." (The widow Mrs Boisnet has the honour to inform the residents of this island and visitors who frequent the English islands that they will find a renowned meal at 10 am and 5 pm. Private rooms for families and all comforts desired. Commercial travellers will find every advice and good shops for their goods. Mrs Boisnet always stocks everything French and absinthe in bulk and for retail.)
Polish exiles in Jersey celebrated the anniversary of the 1830 revilution with a meeting at the Pomme d'Or in November 1861 and the French colony used the hotel for their annual Bastille Day and New Year celebrations for many years. The hotel was under French management in 1900 when demonstrations were held against the French after the Relief of Mafeking. Windows at the hotel were broken.
Various Freemasonry lodges held functions at the hotel and this continued even after the construction of the Masonic Temple in Stopford Road in 1862-63.
The hotel has expanded considerably over the years, spreading from Wharf Street through to the Weighbridge and Conway Street, but it was not until after the Second World War that the Seymours acquired the Le Huquet coal store on the corner of Conway Street. A German bunker had been built on the site and 2,000 tons of rubble were moved when it was demolished.
- A history of the Pomme d'Or Hotel, from the Jersey Morning News in 1938
- The original Pomme d'Or Hotel building in the mid-19th century a remarkable early photograph
- The 1937 plans for a new 'Continental' hotel on St Helier's waterfront
Click on any image to see a larger version
This unique collection of photographs of the Pomme d'Or shows its development from a warehouse in the mid-1900s to a large, modern, 21st century establishment
In the 1880s, Photograph by Ernest Baudoux