An 1838 newspaper report concerning The Parade

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This translation by Geraint Jennings of an article in Le Constitutionnel in April 1838 first appeared in the St Helier Town Crier, in December 2015

An open sewer, scandalous scenes and disorderly conduct: The Parade in the 1830s

Many years ago the place now known under the name of the Parade, along with the site where the Hospital, the public Prison and All Saints Chapel can be seen, was nothing more than an accumulation of sand covered in rushes and intrusive plants, where children went to play, or rather to sprawl about and wallow, and from where the inhabitants took the sand with which, at that time, they covered the floors of their rooms. Later, the garrison having no suitable place where the troops might gather for exercise and arms drill, this barren rustic spot was handed over to military detachments who levelled it.

A perimeter was marked out and the Parade, with its low enclosing wall, became more or less what it is today. Ashamed of remaining backward however, our authorities had one of those passing whims of patriotism which impelled them to plant around this perimeter wall a double row of trees which, with a modicum of maintenance, might have prospered in this unforgiving soil.

But, as lacking in application as ever, they left to nature the pains of encouraging their growth and to the many urchins of our town, the pleasure of ensuring their ruin, with the effect that after a few years, it was all one could do, out of several hundred trees that had been planted in this spot, to count a dozen that were left!

That is how matters remained. The Parade became an open sewer into which everyone threw their filth, several stretches of the walls were successively pulled down; and this place which at first held out the prospect of a pleasant stroll, became the haunt of a number of nags which ran wild, in all senses, to graze, and to which most of our little urchins made their way to better indulge in their frolics.

The uncleanliness of this place became so notorious that finally several inhabitants, outraged by these scandalous scenes, complained to General Thornton, who succeeded, after a vigorous crackdown, in putting a stop to the disorderly conduct committed there, and this repressive measure, backed by several people from the surrounding area who managed to put to good use the impulse given to this makeover, has had a lasting effect over recent years.

Thanks to their patriotism, the walls have been totally repaired, some new trees have been planted, which have been a perfect success. An iron gate has even been erected to close up the main entrance on the town side, and this obvious improvement has been making itself felt since last year.

If the enthusiasm of a few private individuals can make such a difference, what might not the authority achieve that took to heart the conversion of this place into a promenade? We take pleasure in signalling the recent efforts of a number of inhabitants of this neighbourhood to achieve such a desirable end, and in recognising the patriotism that moves them. With perseverance, they cannot fail to succeed; and if, as is to be hoped, this place becomes a retreat where one can taste the pleasures of a stroll – where convalescents may recover their health or regain new strength – where, as in public promenades in every town in France and even in England, children may attempt their first steps, the authors of these improvements will have truly deserved the thanks of generations to come, who, appreciating their lack of self-interest and their labours, will equally come to bless their memory.

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