Route du Fort

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- Route du Fort


RouteduFort1967c.jpg
The construction of the western end of Route du Fort across the land where the old railway storage sheds stood. The open land to the left of the picture below Green Street Cemetery has been developed as Police Headquarters and offices


This article includes material produced for the Jersey Archive ‘What’s Her Street's Story?’ series.


Route du Fort was constructed in 1967 in preparation for the opening, two years later, of the tunnel under Fort Regent, providing a direct through link from the Weighbridge to Georgetown, gateway to the east of the island.

Streets linked

Before the road was built there was no link between Green Street, in the west, and Roseville Street. From here the Route du Fort follows what was Peel Street, and then Plaisance Road, past St Luke's Church and St Luke's School. A further new section had to be opened up beyond Elizabeth Street to the junction with Don Road, Georgetown Road, Victoria Road and Dicq Road.

At the western end a property known as The Cedars, formerly Maison du Mont, had to be demolished in front of where the tunnel emerges into Green Street. The road from here to Roseville Street was built largely on what were formerly the carriage sheds for the Jersey Eastern Railway, and had been disused since the 1930s.

Street Story

The developed area around Route du Fort is much older than the road itself and its study reveals the wtory of philanthropic institutions caring for women in the 19th century.

Jersey Archive holds two volumes of admission records from an institution called the St Thomas Refuge, dating from 1886 to 1914. [1] They are records of a charitable organisation which was formed in 1886 to open a house of refuge, to help friendless and fallen girls and women, who were prone to or victims of drunkenness and immorality.

The refuge was located in Glengarry Cottage in St Clement's Road, a property which still exists today.

There was a House of Refuge for Fallen Women much earlier than this, recorded in the 1861 census at Mutual House, St Luke's Place, which was in Dicq Road, near Georgetown. This small institution was opened in October 1860 after being set up by a committee of women of independent means.

A newspaper article in December 1860 described their cause as 'one of the most worthy efforts ever made by philanthropists to rescue their perishing fellow creatures from a life of sin and shame'. But the women struggled too support the refuge and it seems to have closed within a year or two of opening.

1834 map

The 1834 le Gros map shows that St Clement's Road and Roseville Street were well-established links from Colomberie to the south coast, but there was very little in the way of a thoroughfare running east to west. Any journey from the eastern parishes to the west had to use Don Road, Colomberie, the Weighbridge and the Esplanade.

Most traffic followed this route for another 130 years, before the construction of the new link road.

Marie Anne Gruchy, nee Le Maistre

1849 map

The 1849 Godfray map shows a number of changes in this area, with St Luke's Church and Green Street Cemetery prominently marked.

The ecclesiastical district of St luke was created in April 1846, and the foundation stone for the church was laid in October 1848. Plaisance Road, Beach Road, Dunell Road, Hastings Road, Peel Road and part of Cleveland Road can all be seen on the map.

A contract of 1844 records Philippe Le Gallais and Jacques Godfray selling a piece of land to Thomas Dunell, bordered on the north by Plaisance Road, which was between Rue aux Ronces and Elizabeth Street Rue aux Ronces was the former name of St Clement's Road and Ronceville, the large house which remains on the eastern corner, was named after the road.

The 1851 census shows that Ronceville was owned by a solicitor with the unusual name of Moreau Amy, who was born in Guernsey. Aged 50, Mr Amy was recorded as a widower, living with his four children, a cook and a servant. According to an 1865 contract, Mr Amy built Ronceville on part of a piece of land he had purchased from John William Dupre in 1840.

Francois Le Maistre, another solicitor, bought Ronceville in 1865 and the house remained in his family for many decades. his daughter, Marie Anne, married George Gruchy and inherited Ronceville on the death of her father, and lived in the house with her family until her death in 1938. [2]

Petitioners

Many women who lived in this area signed the 1924 petition to the States requesting that they be granted the full civil and political rights enjoyed by their counterparts in the United Kingdom and Guernsey. Marie Anne Gruchy and her daughter Grace both signed this significant document.

Marie Anne was the honorary treasurer of the St Thomas Refuge in the 1890s and was described in a speech by the Rev Falle as one of the philanthropic women of the island. She is certainly not as well-known as women such as Julia Westaway and Florence Boot, but women such as her were equally important for their regular donations of money and time.

This is confirmed in her obituary, which stated:

'She was in her early years deeply interested in all philanthropic institutions and took an active interest in all matters relating to the welfare of our island.'

St Thomas Refuge was opened in October 1886 to try to stem the 'tide of impurity and intempeprance' following the formation of a committee headed by the Rev Pipon Braithwaite and Lady Bertram. It was affiliated to the St Thomas Diocesan Home in Basingstoke. Charitable women such as Elizabeth Dodgin regularly visited the Magistrate's Court to plead on behalf of women who had been arrested by the police.

Instead of being imprisoned they were often released into the care of the refuge untl they were able to be taken to a home in England. Admission entries of the refuge record the names of the girls, their situations and follow their progress.

An entry in 1887 for Maggie Lee, aged 18, records her as having a mother who was one of the worst drunkards of the town. It also revealed that Maggie drank very heavily for one so young and that she had a young child in Grouville Orphanage, whose keep was paid for by the women of the committee.

Route du Fort construction, with Green Street car park being built in the background

Elizabeth Dodgin

Elizabeth Dodgin was the most passionate, hardworking supporter and provider for the refuge. She was born in Lincoln in 1836 and was just six years old when her father, Lieutenant William Dodgin, of the 44th Regiment of Foot, died in the retreat from Kabul.

No photographs exist of Miss Dodgin, a spinster, who first appeared in Jersey in the 1881 census, living with her widowed aunt. Despite her privileged background, Miss Dodgin devoted her life to women who had fallen on unfortunate times in Jersey.

Like many charitable women of her time, she remained virtually anonymous. She later became president of the refuge committee and was still very active in her duties until her death in 1923, aged 87.

In 1906 St Thomas Refuge was renamed the House of Help and relocated to 67 Great Union Road.

The first of the two most significant transformations to the Route de Fort area came in 1872, when the construction of the Jersey Eastern Railway line started, crossing open land from the back of Regent Road, Green Street, Roseville Street, St Clement's Road and Beach Road, en route to Grouville.

The line was opened the following year and St Luke's Station opened over 20 years later in 1896, just east of Beach Road.

Nearly 100 years later the area again underwent an even more significant change with the creation of the new east-west road, including a tunnel under Fort Regent, which was approved by the States in 1961. Route du Fort was opened on 9 April 1968, when Peel Street and Plaisance Road ceased to exist.

Construction of the tunnel commenced soon after. A number of buildings were demolished to facilitate both projects and the tunnel opened in 1970.

Notes and references

  1. The refuge had no connection with St Thomas' Church
  2. Marie Anne was 20 when she married George in 1868, and he was aged 40, and of independent means, the son of rentier Francois. The two families were strongly linked because this Francois married Nancy Le Maistre, who was Marie Anne's aunt, her father's younger sister.

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