Millbrook

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An 1850 print of Half Way Hotel

Millbrook is the name of a residential district mid way between St Helier and St Aubin in the parish of Saint Lawrence on Jersey's south coast.

Boundary stream

It derives its name from the brook running down Le Chemin des Moulins, which is now popularly known as Waterworks Valley and powering a number of mills. The stream, which is also known as Le Douet de Mi-Grève and in modern Jèrriais as Lé Dou dé D'mi (the half-way brook), forms the boundary between St Helier and St Lawrence. Close to the stream at the junction of the valley with St Aubin's Road there was a hotel and inn known as Half Way Hotel, reflecting the area's position in the middle of St Aubin's Bay. It was sometimes also known as Half Way House, although another property, Magnolia House, close to Bel Royal, was also known by this name.

It is difficult to say how large an area is covered by the name Millbrook, but Coronation Park to the west of the brook is popularly known as Millbrook Park, the Glass Church beyond it is known as St Matthew's, Millbrook, although it is much closer to Bel Royal, and to the east towards First Tower, some say that it encompasses the area known to others as Boulevard Avenue.

Certainly when the telephone first came to Jersey, a large area spreading out on either side of St Aubin's Road from First Tower to Bel Royal, was covered by the Millbrook Exchange, which was not incorporated into the Central Exchange until March 1960.

The lavoir across the brook which gives Millbrook its name

Jerripedia founder Mike Bisson recalls:

"In the 1950s my family lived at Belvedere Terrace, which is about half way between the mill brook and Boulevard Avenue. We gave our address as Boulevard Avenue, but our telephone number was Millbrook 200, and I think today people living there would probably say that they were in part of Millbrook."

Milling

Until the 19th century the Mill Brook was a major part of the island's network of water mills. In the middle of the century the Jersey Waterworks Company, and its successor the Jersey New Waterworks Company, began buying up land and mills in the area as the island's public water supply developed, and successively built Millbrook Reservoir in 1895, Dannemarche Reservoir in 1909 and then Handois Reservoir which was finished in 1931.

Lavoir

Before the stream crosses underneath St Aubin's Road there is a lavoir, or abreuvoir, a communal washing place which was built of granite in the 19th century.


Goldsmith's Garage

Archive presentation

Millbrook was the subject of a presentation in 2011 in the Jersey Archive What's Your Street's Story series. It revealed that the 1795 Richmond Map shows the area to have been largely undeveloped. There were a few houses in what was otherwise an area of sand dunes, and St Aubin's Road had yet to be built.

The area was partially protected from the sea by a sandbank, but this was gradually being eroded by the sea on one side and by people taking shingle from the other, despite the threat of a fine of 200 livres.

Early in the 19th century, as first St Aubin's Road, and then Victoria Avenue were built to open up the route between St Helier and St Aubin, more homes started to be built in the Millbrook area.

Seafield House

Fortifications

This was an era when the island was constantly under the threat of another attack by the French, in the wake of the Battle of Jersey in 1781. The nearest coastal towers were built at First Tower and Bel Royal, but records show that there was a fortification next to where Coronation Park is now. A fort was built in 1795, followed by a redoubt in 1817, which was known as Volunteer's Redoubt.

A book held by Jersey Archive notes that in 1857 the redoubt was no longer armed, but the barracks were retained in good order. The 1841 census shows that it was occupied by William Haywood, a 56-year-old 'pensioner'. Thirty years later the redoubt was occupied by Benjamin Hudson, a 70-year-old Chelsea Pensioner and his wife Harriet. Ten years later she was still living there, although by then widowed, and described as a washerwoman.

Gervaise Le Gros

By 1891 the property was occupied by James Goldsmith, a 43-year-old Battery Sergeant Major of the Royal Artillery, his wife Mary and six children. Mary was the daughter of the Hudsons. After her husband's death she bought the property from the Crown for £500. It was divided between her children and new houses were built on the site. Goldsmith's Garage was also built alongside Victoria Avenue in 1932. For many years its prominent position made it the top garage for petrol sales in the island, until it was forced to close in 1961 after the road had been converted to a busy dual carriageway in the late 1950s.

Seafield House

A prominent property in the area is Seafield House, a listed building behind high walls in a garden which stretches from St Aubin's Road at the bottom of Waterworks Valley to Victoria Avenue. Before that road was built, the property stretched to the shoreline, but first the new railway line in the 18780s, followed by the construction of the road, intervened.

Seafield House was built in the early 1800s for Francois Giffard, who is described as a prominent banker, merchant and smuggler. It is not known which of his activities brought him the wealth required to build his home, but it might well have been the latter of the three.

The house was sold in 1821 to Michel Le Gros, and it then passed to his son Jean, and his grandson Gervaise. Gervaise was a leading island personality in the second half of the 19th century, becoming an Advocate in 1853, and then entering public service as Greffier, Viscount and ultimately Jurat. He prospered sufficiently to enable him to buy the Fief de Meleches and become a seigneur.

In April 1867 Jane Marett and Elizabeth Gruchy were sentenced to eight days in prison with hard labour for stealing rhododendron plants from Gervaise Le Gros' garden.

The house was sold to Maxwell Blackler-Douglas, whose widow was living there at the start of the German Occupation before she was forced to move out and give way to soldiers who used it as a Soldatenheim.

Church

The population of the Millbrook area was growing sufficiently by 1840 to persuade the Dean, François Jeune, and the Revs George du Heaume and Philippe Filleul, Rectors respectively of St Lawrence and St Peter, to acquire land to build a new church.


It was, and still is, St Matthew's Church, although it is more commonly known today as the Glass Church after its total refurbishment in the 1930s, complete with magnificent Lalique Glass, the gift of Lady Trent in memory of her late husband Jesse Boot.

Lady Trent, who lived at Villa Millbrook on the north side of St Aubin's Road, also created Coronation Park on a large area of land alongside the church, in 1937. In 1953 the park was gifted to the States, together with £7,500 for its upkeep.

Other articles

The junction of Victoria Avenue and Rue du Galet, which connects the Avenue with St Aubin's Road. Picture courtesy of Jersey Temps Passe. Radley Tea Rooms (below) were behind the second two-storey house on the right, itself behind the house with railings in front

Businesses

EUSRadleyTearooms1.jpg
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