Popular History of Jersey Chapter 58

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Royal wedding celebrated

Cholera scare

Once more returning to matters of daily life, we come face to face with the fact that the epidemic of cholera prevailing on adjacent coasts had a reflex action on the Island, it being generally reported on 8 and 9 May 1893, amongst other things, that cholera had once more been conveyed to Jersey by a Breton labourer, who had died from its effects — a report which reached the English papers, and which was made much of by more than one French penny-a-liner, at the same time causing no little excitement in Jersey itself, where, on the 17th of the month, the Island was once more divided into sanitary districts with a medical Superintendent over each; a thorough inspection of the whole area of St Helier was at the same time organised, and in some measure carefully carried out.

Precautions were also taken to ensure that no suspicious or known case should be allowed to land, St Aubin's Fort was fixed upon as a hospital for any case that should arrive from sea so far as the western side of the Island was concerned; and a like station was provided at Gorey for the eastern side; the Overdale "Huts" being considered sufficient for the Town of St Helier. In a short time, however, the scare blew over, and the Sanitary Committee were enabled to report that the Island had seldom been so free from infectious diseases of all sorts, and that cholera had at that period never touched the coast.

Aquarium opened

22 May 1893, saw the opening, by Sir George Bertram, Bailiff, of the Jersey Aquarium and Biological Station at Havre-des-Pas, which has since done such good work with regard to scientific research in connection with the marine fauna that abounds around the Island; and the 25th of the month was a noteworthy day amongst the farmers and cattle breeders of the Island, inasmuch as on that date the Jersey English Cattle Society's gold medal was first competed for at the Agricultural Show held in the Pavilion Grounds, Springfield, St Helier, under the auspices of the Royal Jersey Horticultural and Agricultural Society, when for the first time, also under the superintendence of the representative of the English Society, Mr E Matthews, a public scientific butter-making contest was held, and machinery used in connection with cream-separating; the gold medal being awarded to Mr Williams' "Fancy II" for 2 lb 8½ oz of butter, produced from 39 lb 8 oz of milk, yielded at two milkings during two consecutive hours.

25 May 1893 also had its serious aspect arising from the fact that it witnessed an inquest held upon a Breton woman who, under the strict sanitary regulations imposed upon immigrants of her class, through exposure and cold during her isolation in the quarantine station on the pier, and at the time being of delicate constitution, had caught a cold, from the consequence of which she eventually died.

Overcrowded ships

This again brought the matter of Breton labourers to the fore, and the States once more set about dealing with the question, and also the overcrowding of vessels that brought them over, five of which had, within a short period, arrived crowded to such an extent as not only to endanger life, but also to give rise to great anxiety about hygienic matters. Upon this another and more stringent Bill was passed on 27 May, regulating such affairs, and a copy of it sent to the resident French Consul with the request that it might be forwarded to the proper and competent authorities, to ensure, if possible, its provisions being kept at the French ports.

2 June 1893, was another red-letter day from an agricultural point of view, for on it Mr Swansberg shipped off some 260 head of Jersey cattle per ss Tula (one of the largest vessels that has entered St Helier's Harbour) to Calmar, en route for his dairy farming estates in Sweden.

Then, for the time being, the chief portion of public and private attention in Jersey was taken up by the news of the betrothal of Prince George of York to the Princess May, which announcement was received with unbounded satisfaction. A public meeting was held on 12 June when a resolution was arrived at to present an Island gift to the Royal and happy couple, whilst (amidst the rejection of a proposed Divorce Law for the Island) a further discussion on the Compulsory Education Bill, which was then postponed until 6 October) £100 was voted by the States for bread and meat tickets to be distributed to the poor of St Helier on the forthcoming Royal wedding day.

Severe thunderstorm

Meanwhile a passing gloom was cast over the whole Island by the death of Sir Lothian Nicholson, (Governor of Jersey from 1878 to 1883), on 22 June, a day, too, locally remarkable for the severe and lasting thunderstorm that passed over St Helier, during which Seaton place Chapel was struck by lightning, and as being the date on which Advocate Baudains received the honour of being (for the fifth successive time) elected Constable of St Helier.

On 6 July 1893, the Island, through the States, once more gave evidence of its loyalty and the interest it took in all matters connected with our beloved Queen by forwarding to Her Majesty, the Prince and Princess of Wales, and the Duke of York, a congratulatory message on the great event; and on the same day, the Royal wedding day, Jersey was never more to the fore in the way of public demonstrations of joy. Processions connected with the leading merchants, tradesmen and others paraded the town of St Helier with full gala effect; sports (under the auspices of the Jersey Athletic Club) were held, and other signs of a public and demonstrative general holiday were visible throughout the day on every hand; and in the evening the finest illuminations and displays of fireworks that the Island has ever indulged in were carried out amidst the rejoicings of all around.

Railway accident

More mundane affairs, however, occupied the thoughts of the Islanders shortly after; for on 18 July one of the most serious, though fortunately not fatal, accidents that have happened on the Jersey Railway line occurred through one of the Company's engines being thrown off the metals and partly down the embankment a short distance from St Aubin on the Corbiere line; the driver and fireman having an almost miraculous escape. Then on the 31st of that month the cholera scare broke out afresh through the insertion in a London paper of a false alarm, again picked up from the neighbours across on the French side.

After this, for some little period the scavenging of the town of St Helier seems to have been the uppermost idea in the minds of its inhabitants, States and the people alike; meetings being held and suggestions made to effect a good result. The farthest point reached at that time was the Constable being authorised to request the Harbour Committee to place a large barge and steam tug at the disposal of the Municipal Authorities for the purpose of carrying the refuse of the town out to sea for a distance of two miles past the breakwater. After which the scavenging scheme, at any rate up to the time of writing appears to have died a natural death.

Butter making competition

Passing on, we come to a day of great rejoicing amongst the old-fashioned farmers and butter-makers of Jersey (24 August), when at another public contest held in the same grounds and under the same auspices as before, the system of butter-making on the Island, in vogue from time immemorial, appeared at the head of the list. Four various methods were tried, of which it will suffice to mention two — the most modern and the oldest — in other words the direct separation of the cream from the milk by aid of machinery (the Laval Separator), and the old Jersey crock in which the cream is allowed to rise and sour before churning.

In this contest the cream from 90 lb of milk, as produced by the separator, took 28 minutes to churn and brought 3 lb 8 oz of butter. The crock system took longer by ten minutes to convert into butter, but the weight amounted to 4 lb, and great was the joy of its defenders; and though it must be added from an impartial view that the separator was working at a slight and at the time unavoidable disadvantage, while the crock system had, on the other hand, a likewise unavoidable advantage, yet the difference in the results was too pronounced not to be, taking it altogether, a victory for the older method.

RC Cathedral consecrated

On 5 September, being the centenary of the re-establishment of the Roman Church upon the Island, St Thomas's pro-Cathedral was consecrated, amidst much enthusiasm amongst that body of worshippers, by the Roman Catholic Bishop of Portsmouth; and the 22nd of that month is noteworthy for the fact that it witnessed the commencement of the sea wall extension towards Millbrook, together with the construction of the New Boulevard to First Tower, through the Lower People's Park, which at about that period was planted with trees, such planting having by 27 October reached as far as First Tower; a meteorological phenomenon rare around the coasts of Jersey, in the form of two waterspouts, which were observed at La Rocque on 23 September, is also worthy of a passing record.

Then coming to 1 October we find the old-established paper, the Jersey Times, reducing its price to a halfpenny per copy, whilst the remainder of the year may be summed up in the few brief words — starvation and distress amongst the poor, at any rate to some extent, the outcome of the English coal war then prevailing, and consequent appeals for charitable deeds and work, stormy weather of an inordinately severe character, during which trees, chimneys, roofs and scaffolding were thrown down or damaged, a window of the Congregational Chapel, Victoria Street, blown in, and a portion of the roof of the Vegetable Market torn away, followed by searching frost and a heavy downfall of snow, which remained so long on the ground that the oldest inhabitant could not remember a parallel case.

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