The Weighbridge

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On the coast
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The Weighbridge


Town-map-ns.jpg

An early map of St Helier before the land on which the Weighbridge stood had been reclaimed

The Weighbridge is one of the most important locations in St Helier. The name has been taken by the whole area to the north of the Old Harbour and New North Quay, where the original public weighbridge formerly stood


Carriages in 1875

This is all reclaimed land, the shoreline of St Helier having previously been over 200 metres to the north on the south wall of the town churchyard. Gradually, from the 18th century onwards, the sea was pushed back, as first warehouses, and then hotels and other properties, were built to the south of the church.

Then construction of St Helier Harbour began in the 19th century, and gradually more and more land was reclaimed - a process which is continuing to this day.

The weighbridge itself was ordered to be constructed in 1825, and, as the island's potato industry developed, for several weeks of every year it was the centre of island life, as farmers brought their crop to St Helier for weighing, packing and then shipping out of the island.

In 1870 the town terminus of the Jersey Western Railway was built; in 1877 a new weighbridge was built in front of the terminus, closer to the harbour and the original building was demolished; in the late 1880s a circular garden was laid out, initially with a tell flagpole in the centre, before it was replaced with a statue of Queen Victoria, which was unveiled in 1890.

The Weighbridge's darkest days were in June 1940, when thousands of islanders queued there awaiting evacuation, and it was later the scene of an aerial attack by German forces, which would shortly occupy the island, after ordering white crosses of surrender to be painted on the Weighbridge and Royal Square.

Five years later, when the island was liberated, the Weighbridge was the scene of great jubilation, as crowds flooded the area to see the Union Flag unfurled on the balcony of the Pomme d'Or Hotel which stands on the edge of the Weighbridge open area.

Today a memorial square with freedom statue has been constructed on this side of the Weigbridge, but the opposite side, in front of the Jersey Museum, where the statue used to stand, and leading towards Commercial Buildings is an open area awaiting redevelopment as a public arena. The statue was moved closer to the old railway terminus, then the tourism centre, in 1970 and its surrounding gardens demolished, to allow the bus station which was then located there to be enlarged. The weighbridge itself also disappeared in 1970. In 1976 the statue was moved to the Triangle Park at West Park.

At first the Old Harbour stretched much further towards the Royal Yacht Hotel but a section was filled in during 1884 to allow the circular garden to be constructed. At this point there was only a narrow stretch of land between the harbour and the garden. In 1928 more of the harbour was filled in to create land for car parking.

WeighbridgePanorama.jpg


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Gallery

This picture was taken in 1887 by Ernest Baudoux, after the opening of the new weighbridge closer to the harbour than the original structure, which was outside the Southampton Hotel. It would be another three years before the construction of the circular garden which remained a feature of the Weighbridge for nearly a century, with a statue of Queen Victoria erected in its centre. This picture shows clearly that the area where the garden would be built was just rough ground in the 1880s, with unsurfaced but well-worn tracks on the routes followed by potato vans heading for the weighing machines. This had previously been part of the old harbour, the upper part of which was filled in in 1884. Initially the new weighbridge had a single channel so that only one load of potatoes or other produce could be weighed at a time, but increasing demand led to the addition of further weighing arches either side, to treble its capacity on busy days

Dated photographs

Click on an image below to see larger picture

These three pictures were part of a sequence taken by Ernest Baudoux, presumably at the same time as the larger image further up the page. They show the area of land reclaimed from the harbour, the top wall of which was moved several metres down to create the space where the statue of Queen Victoria would be erected in 1890. One of the images is dated 1884, another 1886, and the third, 1890, but they certainly appear to have been taken within a short time of each other, and the date of 1887 attributed to the larger picture above seems most likely. The dates for all pictures taken of this area in the 1880-90s must be seen as approximate

c 1886
Cars in 1905
Potato lorries in 1939
Buses dominate the scene in the 1990s

Potato exports

Horses and carts at the Weighbridge

Sundry photographs not yet dated

Click on an image below to see larger picture

A light covering of snow across the Weighbridge
Weighbridge hotels
The St Helier terminus of the Jersey Western Railway
Passing through the weighbridge
LL postcard
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