The Jersey Centre, as part of the Association of the Order of St John, was formed in 1884. However, it was not until 1948 that the Brigade was granted a separate Foundation and was merged as St John Ambulance in 1968. During the Great War, work by members included sending food parcels to Jersey residents who were prisoners of war, and clothing to military hospitals. The first motor ambulance was purchased for £204 and used extensively in the Island at this time.
Between the Wars, the Centre grew in strength and capability and many First Aid courses were run. Work continued during the Occupation of the Island by German Forces, when St John were the only organisation allowed to continue to wear uniform. Activities included running first aid and nursing courses for members of the public and the police.
St John distributed the Red Cross parcels sent to the Island towards the end of the war, at a time when food was very scarce.
On 7 June 1945 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visited Jersey and met members of the Brigade at the Centre.
The JEP of the 30th April 1937 carried the story that 'The Parish of St Helier stated that they intended to replace the two ambulances which are now very old, especially the Rolls Royce private ambulance donated to the Parish by the late Lord Trent'. This vehicle was run by members of the St Helier Fire Brigade but was scrapped in 1941. The other ambulance was also scrapped some time before the Occupation.
There were two ambulances used during the Occupation. A Ford Lomas, purchased in 1937 and a German Steyr used by the forces and later used by the Airport. Until 1942 the Ford ambulance was kept at the Nelson Street Fire Station, and was crewed by a full-time fireman and a Police Constable. During 1942, however, the ambulances were moved to the Town Hall, and from then on were crewed by the Paid Police Force. The Lomas was scrapped in 1946/47.
An extract from Leslie Sinel’s Occupation Diary on 13 March 1941 reads: "A horse-drawn ambulance is being constructed due to petrol shortages" and another extract on 25 November 1944 reads: "The Department of Transport and Communications issued a notice stating it had been informed by the Germans that a taxi used for the conveyance of sick persons to and from Hospitals etc. must be withdrawn from service and the Ambulance used instead".
After the war the States of Jersey took responsibility for the running of the Ambulance service using a Dodge and a Chevrolet, registered in 1945. They also used a Ford but this proved unreliable and it was scrapped in December 1953. The Ambulance service was run out of the Parish of St Helier’s Yard in Lempriere Street before moving to the Town Arsenal Rouge Bouillon. it moved to Midvale Road in July/August 1955.
In January 1947 the inaugural meeting of the Council of St John for Jersey took place and the Lieut- Governor, presided. The same year the land on which the headquarters now stands was purchased from Major General Hind for £2,000 - a 'sum considerably below market value'. In July 1950 the foundation stone was laid by Countess Mountbatten of Burma and the Headquarters building was officially opened one year later on 8 July 1951.
Considerable progress and development has taken place over the past 60 years, including the provision of the St John Ambulance Hall at St Martin and a care training room at the Midvale Road Headquarters, in 2001. Public Duties in support of major events, commercial and non-commercial training courses, and taking part in local, inter-insular and UK competitions are but a few of the activities undertaken by St John
In 1955 the States of Jersey leased the premises from St John Ambulance and employed the drivers and staff to operate the service. The drivers wore the black uniforms of the St John Ambulance Brigade and were members of the Brigade Auxiliary Service. This changed in the early '60s to a grey colour and then in the mid-sixties to a blue States of Jersey Uniform. On 25 January 1981 the States of Jersey service became completely independent and moved to premises at Summerland in Rouge Bouillon.
Dr John Hanna was a prominent member of St John Ambulance in Jersey in the 1930s and 40s. He was appointed visiting doctor at the General Hospital in 1931, and was involved with the visits to Jersey of the Red Cross ship Vega which brought much-needed food parcels for islanders during the final months of the German Occupation in 1945
An ambulance in front of the General Hospital