Postal services to France

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Postal services
to France


A letter posted from Jersey to France in 1870

From earliest times communication had been maintained between Jersey and various ports on the adjacent coast of France, chiefly St Malo, Granville and Carteret, by cutters, of which there were many plying from Jersey


The first steamer to enter St Malo was the paddle steamer Ariadne in 1824 from Jersey.

The next year the Lord Beresford also went from Jersey to St Malo and these two steamers continued this service, with the inclusion of Granville as a further port, from 1832 until 1833 when the George Canning paddle steamer also joined this route, although it is unlikely that the George Canning carried mail.

The Camilla ran to St Malo and Granville from 1837 to 1847, when the vessels of the New South Western Steam Navigation Company took over with the paddle steamer South Western but for three years only.

St Malo

From 1850 to 1863 the mail service to St Malo and Granville was performed by paddle steamers of the Jersey Steam Packet Company whose chief shareholder was Mr F C Clarke, the Jersey ship builder, who built the Rose, the second steamer to be built in Jersey. Of 83 tons, the Rose was a wooden paddle steamer built at West Park and fitted with boilers of the Superb, which was wrecked on the Minquiers rocks in 1850, a year earlier.

The other vessels of this company were Venus, Comete, Dumfries and Edinburgh Castle, all paddle steamers. Comete and Dumfries were retained by the London and South Western Railway Company who took over the ships of the Jersey Steam Packet Company in about 1862. Comete was renamed Granville and out of records in the early 1870s.

The other vessels of the London and South Western Railway, running to St Malo and Granville, were: the Griffin, the first screw steamer engaged in this service, originally built in 1858 and purchased by the London and South Western Railway in 1865 and on service until about 1889; Wonder was running to France from 1868 until the early 1870s when in 1870 the old Southampton mailboat’ Dispatch, maintained the service until 1888.

From 1888 up to 1896 a variety of London and South Western Steamers operated this route, including Caesarea, Honfleur, St Malo, Alliance, and Fannie. At the inauguration of Carteret harbour a French company opened the Gorey-Carteret service, in July 1881, with the French steamer Claire, which ran until relieved by the Contentin of the same company. These two steamers also ran periodically to Port Bail, but they disappear from records in the early 1890s. It is not known if they carried mail.

A new company operated the Gorey-Carteret service from 1894 with mail, this was the Compagnie Rouenaise de Navigation, which was allied with the West of France Railway Company. The first paddle steamer used was the Cygne which ran until 1913 when another steam paddle ship, the Jersey (ex Lord Nelson) previously owned by the Great Yarmouth Tug Company was used. Jersey was taken over by the Admiralty in the First World War, returning after the war and is out of records by 1920.

A short note in a newspaper of June. 1929 says:

”Arrival of new boat Rose Star for Gorey-Carteret service'.

It is not known if she carried mail”.

St Brieuc

A mail service also ran to St Brieuc periodically with vessels of the Plymouth Channel Islands and Brittany Steam Ship Company Limited. These were Commerce, a Guernsey-built steamer of 120 tons and the Plymouth which ran twice weekly in 1888. Devonia took over from Commerce around 1900. The above company also carried mail between Jersey and Guernsey. The Rossgull, another of the company's vessels, foundered off St Brelade in December 1900 and the captain and crew were drowned.

In 1896 the London and South Western Railway placed the newly built Victoria on the St Malo run, where she gave excellent service until 1919 when she was sold. From that date until 1932 the Jersey-France service was operated by vessels of the Compagnie General Transatlantique with La Nymphe, St Malo, Dinard and St Brieuc. St Malo was lost off Brayes rocks, Guernsey, in November 1915.

St Brieuc, under Captain Lasbliez, finished this service in May 1932 when the Southern Railway Company took over, in June that year, with the Vera which remained until 1933 when the newly built Brittany came on service. Brittany had been built specially for the Jersey-St Malo service. At the commencement of World War II, the mail service to France from Jersey was discontinued and although Brittany returned to her station after the war, has never been resumed.

A post box dedicated to letters to be sent to France. The location and date of this facility is not known
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