A history of the Pomme d'Or Hotel
From the Morning News, Monday 28 February 1938
It may be opportune at this moment, when extensive operations are in progress in connection with the Pomme d’Or Hotel, to give a brief outline of its history, and to show how previous generations in their own way attempted to cater for the visitor and according to the needs of those periods did it very well.
St Helier in 1800
Let us go back to the year 1800 and visualise St Helier in that part where the hotel is situated. Arriving at the sea wall, which in those days ran along Bond Street but a few feet away from St Helier’s Parish Church, we gaze out to sea in a southerly direction. We observe Elizabeth Castle standing sentinel against the skies while a few rocks approach the shore. Immediately below us and for some hundreds of yards around is a vast area of sand.
These sands, however, were only completely covered by the seas during the equinoxial periods, and feeling that much of this land could be reclaimed, it was decided in 1802 to commence the task. This work when completed had taken nearly twenty years and when finished, gave us what we know today as the Esplanade, Weighbridge and Commercial Buildings.
The authorities having taken what they considered necessary for their own use, decided to sell the remainder in one thousand plots and these were purchased mostly by the inhabitants of St Helier. Until this period St Helier had been very unimportant. Most of the trade locally having to do with shipping, the lack of harbour facilities had diverted the majority of the trade to St Aubin, which also meant that St Helier had never been in any too prosperous a condition.
But with the completion of the Merchants Quay and Albert Pier things generally took a decided change for the better, and we find the Commercial Buildings almost all erected by 1 May 1818. De La Croix writing his work La Ville de St Helier 1845, tells us:”There where less than 40 years ago stood nothing but sand and stones, washed often by the seas, stands a huge square called the Weighbridge, or Pont au Bascule, on which is built many find houses, splendid hotels, large shops and wide streets.”
This work gave us what we know today as Caledonia Place, Mulcaster Street, Wharf Street, Conway Street and the Weighbridge. Thus, having some idea of the development which took place in and about these parts at the beginning of the last century, we will now concentrate on our site, namely the Pomme d’Or Hotel.
At the sale instituted by the Parochial Authorities certain plots were bought by a family named Pellier, and in the year 1833 the site was owned by Philip Pellier, Esq, who was a well-known local corn and flour merchant of high repute, possessing several mills and a large store built on the Weighbridge, behind the present Southampton Hotel and Le Huquet’s coal store. At the back of this, or rather Wharf Street, contained what was known as Pellier and Company’s Livery Stables. Somewhere, however, along this street they possessed a house which until 1837 they rented to a Mr Dales, who ran what was known as Dale’s Boarding House. From now on we shall see how this boarding house grew into what we know today as the Pomme d’Or Hotel.
In 1837 the Pellier family, giving up the stables, demolished the buildings and in their place constructed a hotel. The name given to this hotel was La Pomme’s d’Or, taken from a well-known local cider as famous then as Mary Ann beer is famous now. This cider was manufactured opposite at No 4 Wharf Street, for many years owned by the Metropolitan Wine and Spirit Company. From the beginning this hotel was run on strictly Continental lines under the supervision of Madame E Boisnet.
The hotel immediately won the patronage of the merchants newly established along the Quay, the ships’ captains trading with the island and their officers, and in little more than ten years it had become necessary to enlarge the building. In 1850 we find Madame Boisnet advertising a complete renovation and redecoration. By 1855 the work was finished, and again we find Madame Boisnet advertising a still larger hotel containing 100 bedrooms, bathrooms and a dining room, capable of accommodating 120 persons in place of the old room wich could only seat 90. Gardens and billiards rooms, reading rooms and saloons offered commercial people the haven which they required, and introducing stock-rooms in the form of shops for those who sought recreation.
Everything which was then modern and up-to-date was introduced, while for those here on holiday they found a delightful change from their home towns on the mainland. The whole building and decoration scheme was of a pleasing Continental style. Madame Boisnet was responsible for the management of this hotel until 1886, and among the many events taking place there, or personages residing there – far too many to mention – and example of each will suffice.
Battle of Jersey centenary banquet
The official Military Banquet, held on 6 January 1881 commemorating the centenary of the Battle of Jersey, was served there, when some 80 officers sat down to an excellent meal, the chair being taken by Major-General Lothian Nicholson, CRE, C-in-C of the Island forces, afterwards Sir Lothian. On his right was Lord Chelmsford, the last nephew of Major Peirson, while on his left was His Excellency the Lieut-Governor, Colonel J Godfrey, ADC to Her Majesty. October 8, 1889, saw the arrival at the hotel of General Boulanger, where he stayed until he moved to the Chateau des Roches, St Brelade’s Bay.
More changes, however, had taken place before this, for in 1883 we find that the Corn and Flour Store on the Weighbridge was demolished at the death of Esther Le Boeuf, who had inherited the property from her husband, Philippe Pellier, on 18 February 1865. In 1886 the management changed hands, the hotel being taken over by Monsieur Mouraud, in whose time the Weighbridge side was built. A further change occurred in 1895 when, after the death of Mr william Pellier, the property was inherited by his son, Charles, who in a very short time caused the hotel Boule d’Or, built on the corner of Conway Street and Wharf Street, to be added to the Pomme d’Or; this all happening unde the management of Monsieur Mouraud, who retained tenancy from 1886 to 1921.
The new extensions and additions will no doubt prove the popularity of the Hotel de la Pomme d’Or, which during its life from a small boarding house to the Great War, was considered the Continental hotel of the Channel Islands, where the meals and atmosphere were precisely the same as in a typical French town. Up to 1914 Jersey had a very big influx of French visitors annually totalling 15,000-18,000 each season. These were not trippers but people who stayed here a week or longer, and St Helier possessed some half-dozen essentially French hotels.
After the war a new attempt was made in 1921 to revive the Pomme d’Or. Mr Charles Pellier sold it to a company known as the Pomme d’Or Hotel Limited, the sale taking place on 30 October 1920. Unfortunately this proved of no avail and we find the property finally coming into the market and being ignored for a considerable period by speculators, who looked upon it as a derelict concern.
Left to the rats for five years, this property of island hotel progress might have passed into oblivion had it not been for the foresight and enterprise on the part of Mr and Mrs Geo F Seymour, who had already done a great deal in the development of post-war visitor establishments in the Island. Mr Seymour acquired the Pomme d’Or on 15 February 1930 and with much hard work, and the experience gained in their previous undertakings, the spent considerable money in renovation, and once more opened the hotel to the public.
There is no need to elaborate on the progress which has been made during the seven years that they have owned it. It has again become a popular evening resort as well as housing thousands of visitors each season.
This is the centenary year of the foundation of the Hotel de la Pomme d’Or and this synchronises with the new building and development scheme, which should be a credit to the island when completed in time for the coming visitor season.
A house with a history such as the Pomme d’Or is well worthy of mention in ‘’the March of Time’’. [We are indebted to Mr John Thuillier for the facts carefully compiled and needing considerable research, which are contained in the above article – Editor.]