Reminiscences of Havre des Pas

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A letter written in 1972

The diving stage referred to in the letter with Havre des Pas in the background

Swimming school

On a fine summers morning at seven o'clock there would have been a number of St Helier tradesmen at the top of the slip waiting for their early morning swim either at the black stage, the coffin, the parlour, the 10 foot dive, the flat or low cement. This school of swimmers were all strong swimmers and good divers and often bathed when tide and conditions were suitable from the abandoned La Collette Works. They were at at this time the only persons bathing here and kept their own ladder here to reach a certain spot.

This school consisted of T Le Quesne (Deputy and plumber), Green Street; Vibert, Green Street; Messervy, Plaisance Road; J F Vautier, Oakbey; G E Croad, Colomberie. Sons were not allowed to swim with their fathers but the fathers taught their sons how to swim and dive.

Following on, the east side of the walks had a number of interesting areas: a Ladies only bathing stage had just been swept away from its moorings, the ladies dressing shed was situated between Le Roux's yard and Sidon Place store.

At the bottom of Green Street was a timber built store originally Vautier's boat store but later used by Mr Bayliss of Bay View Guest House for his motor excursion vehicles (some of the islands first]. This was later demolished to make way for the Hotel de La Plage. Also included in the demolition was the house and shop of Mrs Weeks, Le Roux building yard, the workshop and the dressing room.

About 50 years earlier the seawall and its promenade were constructed replacing the shipyard areas. After passing Sidon Place Gardens there was the Aquarium, a new building but winter gales broke into the building causing so much damage it was never opened again. This became the Marina Hotel.

Moorings

At Havre des Pas the fishing boats were moored and at the Three Sisters rock were a number of landings built by the fishermen themselves, so that they could load and offload their catch. These disappeared by 1918 and also Mr Brewer’s boats on the pebble slope were the Carlton Hotel had also disappeared.

The Swimming Pool consisted of a number of diving stages and were established by George Yvon and others. The original diving stages were forged using railway lines and were made at the long forgotten Smiths shop in Francis Street. The blacksmith was Frank Jeune, who lived in Don Road, and two strong lads, Jack Pallot and Phil Le Claire. The metalwork was carried to the bathing pool and erected by the firm of I Reed of Nelson Avenue.

Rounding the promenade and outside the wall of the Fort D'auvergne could be found the older residents of the area, the retired ship builders, fisherman, pilots,repairers. They sat and yarned all day, smoking their clay pipes. Among them would be representatives of the families of Le Vesconte, Le Cornu, Allix, Keeping, Roberts, Le Roux and Le Riche. The doyen of this group was a well built man called Mr Le Riche.

But Mr Allix had the largest fishing boat and most of their homes were in Marett Road. On Sundays they probably attended the Havre des Pas Mission Hall, which was an offshoot of St Luke’s Church, which was run by a Miss Poore, who is remembered by a plaque on the south wall of St Luke’s Church. She was helped by a Mrs Crouch.

There was also talk about the high price of property. Where Halsea now stands was a typical Jersey cottage, pink tiled roof and whitewashed walls, green painted sash windows, front door and porch. This property and its long garden sold for £1,100. Some readers may also remember the families of Pilots Keeping and Roberts, of Rose Cottage and North Star Cottage, also E B Renouf and family, Cyril Vane, Albert Louveau and Harry Randall.

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