A history of Halkett Place

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Touzel's in 1948

Touzel’s, which is still trading today, albeit having been sold by the founding family, was established in 1848, as a plaque on the front of the building, once No 18 and now No 32 Halkett Place, confirms.

Corn merchant John Touzel had been trading in the Parade but moved to the thriving new commercial centre to occupy premises which had been part of the market complex. His main business was supplying food for the large number of horses used on farms and to pull carriages and carts.

He had two sons, and when he handed the business to them they traded for a time as Touzel Brothers. Their building originally had large doors on the first and second floors for hauling up stock to the storerooms, but these have now been replaced by windows.

Touzel's in 1880

One of the brothers emigrated to Australia and the elder, George, took sole control of the business, eventually to be joined by his son, another George, when the business was renamed G Touzel and Son. The younger George died in 1904 at the age of 38. When his father died eight years later at the age of 78, the business passed to his grandson, Francis, who was only nine.

He did not take control until after he had served in World War 1, returning to the island in his 20s. The business had declined under a manager and demand for horse food and bedding had been severely restricted by the arrival of the motor car.

So he turned his attention to food for pets and also began to sell domestic pets. During the Occupation he kept the business going, although rabbits were now kept for food, not as pets.

His son David was the next family member to run the business, joining in 1960, but eventually selling up at the end of the 20th century, although the new owners have maintained the business much as before.

The Duke of Richmond map of 1795 shows that in the late 18th century the town clustered around the harbour and only extended as far back from the sea as King Street, then known as Rue du Derriere.

One of the main new thoroughfares which began to allow the town to expand in the early 19th century was Halkett Place, which began life as Rue du Nouveau Marche.

This was because a decision was taken to relocate the market from its traditional home in what had become known as the Royal Square to new premises on marshland some 200 metres from Rue du Derriere.

A 19th century drawing of Halkett Place, viewed from Morier Lane

Le Grand Douet

At the corner of Halkett Place and King Street there is no longer any sign of the two streams, both branches of a brook known as Le Grand Douet, which flowed across the marsh in 1795. One flowed from the north of the Island via St Saviour's Road, west through the town to Charing Cross and then out in to the harbour and the other flowed from St Saviour's Road, under Tunnel Street, across Belmont Road and along Burrard Street, before coming out in the sea at Gloucester Street. Both are now underground.

Government House

For a short time from 1800 to 1825 a property stretching from the Halkett Place end of King Street, back into Halkett Place, was the residence of the Lieut-Governor.

In 1800 a survey was undertaken of a house in Rue du Derriere which had been purchased for the use of the Lieut-Governor.

Behind the house (which was set a little way off the road) were stables, a garden, a row of sheds and then two meadows.

Rue du Noveau Marche

In 1803 the demands of the market had outgrown its original location in the Royal Square and the States started to investigate removing it to a purpose-built site elsewhere in the town.

A site was chosen next to the back garden of Government House and a new track – it hardly merited the description road at the time – was constructed for access.

Sir Colin Halkett

In 1821 the Lieut-Governor, Major General Sir Hugh Gordon, who had held the office for five years, was replaced by Sir Colin Halkett (1774 - 1856). He was a senior and much-decorated Army officer, who had served under the Duke of Wellington in the Peninsular War and at Waterloo.

The 47-year-old veteran settled in Jersey with his wife, Lady Letitia Sarah, and set about raising a family.

Their first child, named Georgiana Jersey in honour of her father’s new posting, was born on 8 October 1821 and baptised at the Town Church on the 27th by the Vice-Dean, the Rev George Bertram, of St Martin. The couple’s next child, Margaret Letitia, was born on 4 April 1824 and her baptism appears in both the St Helier and St Saviour Parish Church records, although it is not clear whether there were two separate ceremonies.

This happened because Sir Colin had already taken a dislike to his family’s accommodation and insisted that a new, healthier and more appropriate location be found for Government House.

The lower end of the street in 1881 with ceremonial arches erected for the centenary of the Battle of Jersey

In 1822 the growth of business in the new market and the establishment of shops nearby led to the States deciding to cobble Rue du Nouveau Marche, and give it a new name in keeping with the growing trend to use English names for town streets.

A fierce debate arose over whether the street should be named Gordon Street after the much-loved previous Lieut-Governor, or whether the current office holder should be honoured. The decision went in favour of Halkett Place.

It was also agreed that the centre of a developing commercial centre was no longer an appropriate location for Government House and Belmont, a relatively new house on St Saviour’s Hill, was chosen by Sir Colin as a replacement.

His third and fourth children, Emily Mary Weyneken and Frederick John Colin were born there in 1825 and 1826 respectively and baptised at St Saviour’s Parish Church.

The old property was renamed Halkett House and sold by the Government on 11 June 1825.

Not long afterwards a further road was established and named Waterloo Street. Gradually the area that had been gardens and meadows was built over until houses ran along the whole of the other side of the road from the market.

Shorter street

Halkett Place was considerably shorter in 1830 than it is today. The section beyond the junction with Burrard Street was known as Grove Street, and at the other end it stopped at the King Street junction. The uphill section from there to Hill Street was known as Morier Lane and was much narrower than the new thoroughfare in the opposite direction.

Halkett Place was more open, because the market was a much less ambitious structure than that which replaced it in 1881. There were some fine pillars and ornate fencing on the street frontage, but only low buildings behind.

The row of buildings stretching down from the Market to the junction with King Street and what became Queen Street was much as it is today, although some have been rebuilt and the shopfronts, with the exception of animal food merchant Touzel’s, have changed out of all recognition.

Across the road, the long Georgian terrace, save for a coat of paint over the brickwork, has not changed at all in nearly 200 years from the first floor upwards, but the ornate shopfronts with their supporting pillars and many small panes of glass have long since given way to more contemporary finishes.

To begin with this was a row of small shops, but during the 20th century they were all absorbed into Woolworth and the property which had stretched from King Street through to Halkett Place when it was Government House was again reunited into a single unit.
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