Val Plaisant

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Val Plaisant

Val Plaisant is one of the main streets running north from the centre of St Helier, meeting what today is the ring road, and then continuing north as Trinity Road and Trinity Hill. The date of this picture is uncertain, but it must have been taken after 1887, when St Thomas' Church, on the left of the picture below, opened, and judging by a few other clues in the picture, probably not very long after that date. The identity of the low building is something of a mystery. It is clearly a shop, perhaps a grocer's, but the name above is very difficult to read and may not relate to the shop. Manipulation of the picture in Photoshop has not helped very much, but we are inclined to the view that the sign reads 'Mechanics'. Was this the original home of the Jersey Mechanics Institute? This billiards and snooker club, which has been at its current premises in Halkett Place since 1909, was founded in 1864. Did it start out in Val Plaisant? We have been studying almanac street directories for Val Plaisant from 1890 onwards and they have proved little help in identifying the occupants of the shop. Street listings in this era tended to concentrate on the names of those living on the premises, rather than businesses operating from them. Although it is clear exactly where these properties are, it is difficult to establish how they were numbered at the end of the 19th century. St Thomas' Church swallowed a row of properties, the numbers of which were extinguished. To the left of the three-storey building next to the shop is Windsor Road, and the property on the other corner was No 31, although a succession of almanacs suggest that it was No 33 or 35. The three-storey building has vanished, along with the shop, and there is now a green open space with Caesarea Court flats behind. The building which was Pension de Famille Francaise still stands, and we believe that to be No 36. Although properties have odd numbers on this side of the road and even numbers opposite, we have confirmed that No 36 was on the 'wrong side' of the road, between Nos 35 and 37, and that the mystery shop would, therefore, have been No 35. Can anybody prove us wrong, or help with further information?

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