Several centuries of history in a lunchtime

MY walk starts and ends at the Jersey Archive and can be done if you power-walk it in your lunch hour – although you may want to give yourself a bit longer to fully appreciate the buildings and sites that you pass.

One of the pleasures of researching ‘What’s your Street’s Story?’ and getting to read others’ research is that your eyes are opened to some of the areas that you wouldn’t necessarily notice otherwise. Because of this, it is nice to visit some of these areas and take in the surroundings while getting some exercise.

From the Jersey Archive, walk along Clarence Road to Don Road and, passing the Don Inn on your right, walk towards Howard Davis Park. The park really is an ocean of calm in a busy town. It’s amazing to think of the generosity of T B Davis in gifting such a large area for the perpetual enjoyment of Islanders.

Through Howard Davis Park – as long as the lawn isn’t wet – walk past the bandstand towards St Luke’s Church. Continue past the church, pausing for a second to take in the war cemetery before crossing the road to head down Beach Road.

The end of Beach Road brings you out at the Dicq. Turn right and follow the road past Hotel de Normandie to Havre des Pas. This area is an amazing part of the Island, with so much history to enjoy.

I always look out towards the bathing pool and think back to the stories that my parents and grandparents told me of summers spent swimming, diving and low-water fishing. The Jersey Swimming Club collection is held at the Archive, and seeing images of the old 35-foot diving board in the early 20th century transports you back there.

Follow the promenade round and then head up Mount Bingham and look out towards the Old Harbour and Elizabeth Castle.

At the crossroads between South Hill and Pier Road branch to your left to join the top of Pier Road. It is at this point that you can realise why Pier Road had such a dodgy reputation a couple of centuries ago. Fort Regent and soldiers were at the top of the hill and the Harbour and sailors were at the bottom of the hill – meaning that Pier Road became one of the major red-light districts in the Island.

Follow the hill down, taking in the Jersey Museum and Société Jersiaise on your left. Just after that used to stand number 5 Pier Road, which over 150 years ago was a house of ill repute but has now been pulled down and replaced.

At the bottom of Pier Road cross into Bond Street and take a right into the grounds of the Town Church. I’m always amazed to think that the sea used to reach as far as Pier Road before sea defences and reclamation took place.

Cross into the Royal Square and past the magnificent Royal Court buildings and the statue of George II. When joining King Street take in the bullet holes on the side of The Peirson, left over from the Battle of Jersey.

Walk up the precinct into Queen Street, passing Boots on your left and past Les Jongleurs before joining La Motte Street. La Motte Street is considered to be one of the oldest streets in St Helier and has lots of interesting elements.

At the top of La Motte Street join Grosvenor Street, walking past the Terrace before turning right at the bottom of the Victoria College grounds and rejoining Clarence Road and returning to the Archive, ready to carry on your research in the afternoon.

A walk with lots of interest for a keen local historian.

Information

DISTANCE: Around two miles

Start and end at the Jersey Archive in Clarence Road

TIME: From one to one and a half hours

DIFFICULTY: Relatively easy, but with a steep climb at Mount Bingham

Meet your Guide - Stuart Nicolle

Senior archivist at the Jersey Archive, Stuart Nicolle studied English and history at Southampton University before going to work at the archive as an assistant. He then undertook a Masters degree in archive administration at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, before returning as a locally qualified archivist. He has worked at the Jersey Archive ever since, where he loves cataloguing and researching the old records of his Island home. He also contributes to the JEP feature What’s your Street’s Story? and he particularly enjoys studying the Victorian period, especially searching the court records for scandalous occurrences in temps passé.

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