Normally Jerripedia attempts to provide answers rather than pose questions, but this week's feature picture is an exception. This little booklet was acquired in a recent on-line auction and sent to Jerripedia with the question 'Did Jersey really have a casino in the 1880s?' The questioner quite rightly observed that during the 20th century Jersey's politicians were implacably opposed to the creation of a public gambling venue, and the likelihood is that a proposal to create one today would prove highly controversial and probably fail. Yet here is a souvenir booklet in French for a casino in its second year of operation in 1884, 'by permission of the Bailiff, Sir Robert Pipon Marett'. The answer to this apparent anomaly lies in the original meaning of the word casino
and in the text of the booklet. In the 19th century the word casino
was commonly used to describe a building erected for public entertainment, sometimes, but not necessarily, including gambling. The attractions of Jersey's Royal Victorian Hall casino were advertised as sea bathing at 'the best beach in Europe', viewed from a seaside terrace; hot and cold baths; hydrotherapy; restaurant; and a children's play area. The establishment also had a concert hall, offering daily concerts with dancing, a full orchestral concert once a week and a 'concert spirituel' every Sunday afternoon at 2 o'clock. But where was the Royal Victorian Hall, and what happened to it? The booklet says that it is immediately opposite Georgetown railway station
, which was on the coast to the east of the junction of Green Road and Greve d'Azette, roughly where Maison Victor Hugo apartments now stand and close to Marina Terrace, where the celebrated French writer Victor Hugo
lived some 30 years earlier. As to how long the casino was in business, that is a complete mystery (can any Jerripedia user provide the answer?). It cannot have been that long, because Georgetown Station was closed in 1891, which would hardly have happened if Royal Victorian Hall was providing large numbers of passengers every day.