Maps of 18th century St Helier

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Meade-Map-1737.jpg
St-Helier-map.jpg
Map-Momonier-1787b.jpg

These two 18th century maps of St Helier demonstrate very clearly two facts about the development of the island's principal town and capital. The first is that the town in the 18th century was a fraction of the size it now is. The second is that it grew very little in the 50 years between the creation of these two maps.

1737

The earlier map shows the start of St Helier Habour, with a single jetty well to the south of the built-up area and described by mapmaker Peter Meade as 'Town peer, not finished and very unsafe'.

The map confirms the belief that La Collette, on the other side of South Hill, afforded safer and more popular moorings for fishing vessels and those which fetched vraic from Chausey, to supplement the quantities harvested around the island's coast for manure and fuel.

The 'town watch house' on the coast nearby was positioned to detect any invaders approaching from the south and south-east. The garrison on Elizabeth castle to the left of the map area would have protected St Helier from any invaders approaching from the west.

The Chapelle des Pas is shown alongisde a track which is now Green Streed, but aside from a handful of buildings in the area of Le Dicq at the far right of the map, the whole area to the south of the town centre remains undeveloped as open fields and orchards.

Contrast with today

By contrast, the map above of the town of St Helier today shows the extensive development which has taken place over the last 200 years to the south, east and north of the capital. To the west there is only a ribbon of development along the coast with open countryside to the north of St Aubin's Bay.

Unfortunately the 1787 map does not show the development of the port of St Helier, but in fact there had been little development in 50 years, and St Aubin remained the island's main port. The jetty shown on the 1737 map was abandoned and the French and English harbours were built to the north of it, but it was eventually to be redeveloped as the southern arm of a much larger harbour, named Victoria Pier in honour of the visit by Queen Victoria in the mid-19th century.

One of the most obvious differences between St Helier in 1837 and today is the complete change in the shape of the coastline. A strip of land along the south coast was reclaimed from the sea in the 19th century, and then substantial areas of land were added to the south and west of the harbour at the end of the 20th century. The primary reason for reclaiming these areas was not to create extra land, but to provide landfill areas for disposing of the island's rubbish.

1787

Whereas the earlier map is orientated north-south, the 1787 map shows the town rotated counter-clockwise through nearly 90 degrees. It can be seen that the central developed area has barely spread, save for a stretch westwards along the coastline where the new hospital has been built.

On both maps, streams can be seen flowing out to sea. Today those streams run through underground culverts, but in the 18th century they were at ground level, and in periods of heavy rainfall they could turn into raging torrents. There are reports of children and adults falling in and drowning during severe storms.

Between the creation of the two maps it is evident that the shoreline has moved south in the western part of the town, but there is no sea wall as yet, and the area occupied by the Esplanade today has yet to be reclaimed. It can clearly be seen, however, that whereas in 1737 the sea still almost reached the walls of the town churchyard (A), by 50 years later land has been reclaimed to the south, where the cattle marked (14) then stood.

Both maps show clearly that Fort Regent has yet to be built on Mont de La Ville (F) and (16). Although the building of a defence installation on the hill had been under consideration for a long time, it was not until 1906 that the foundation stone was laid for the Fort, which never fired a shot in anger and became a leisure complex in the late 20th century.


Key

1 St Saviour's Road 13 Parish Church
2 Road to Mont Millais - now Grosvenor Street 14 Foire à Bétail - Cattle Market
3 Rue des Alleurs - now Don Road 15 The prison - now Charing Cross
4 St Clement's Road - Colomberie 16 Mont de la Ville - now Fort Regent
5 Rue du Froid Vent - Regent Road 17 Hue Street
6 Road to Town Mills - now Bath Street 18 Vauxhall Street
7 Road to St John - now New Street 19 Ordnance Yard
8 Road to Mont Madris - Old St John's Road 20 Town Hall
9 Road to First Tower - now the Parade 21 Ordnance Yard
10 Hospital barracks 22 Halle à Viande - Meat market
11 Hospital 23 Halle à Blé - corn market 1668
12 Market Place/Royal Square 24 Statue of George II
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