British Hotel, Gorey

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An advertisement for G Le Bourdiec's British Hotel and Restaurant Francais, where fresh lobsters were offered every day

The British Hotel on Gorey Pier was originally owned by Philip Payn, but it was the Cantell family who developed it into a substantial establishment in the last quarter of the 19th century. It was probably the largest hotel in the east of the island at its peak, and one of the largest in the whole of Jersey.

Francis John Cantell (1834-1905) was a master mariner who had spent a number of profitable years fishing in the Gaspé, before returning to Jersey to run the hotel, which had been left to his wife Ann Messervy by her uncle Philip Payn in his will of 1875.

Francis and Ann bought neighbouring properties to expand the hotel, which benefitted enormously from the increase in passengers passing through Gorey Harbour after the Jersey Eastern Railway was extended to reach the pier in 1891. The cantell family eventually acquired Nos 1, 2 and 5 Gorey Pier, to add to Nos 3 and 4, which had been bought by Philip Payn in 1840. All these properties had originally been private houses, constructed between 1834 and 1840. Francis Cantell bought Nos 1 and 2 in 1881, and No 5 in 1892.

Francis died in 1905, at the age of 70. He must have realised that his days were numbered, because, having no children to inherit them, he sold many of his Gorey properties, including houses in the village, earlier in the year. The hotel was sold to George Lestang, who renamed it Lestang's British Hotel and ran it until 1911.

Gustave Le Bourdiec

He then leased it to a French chef, Gustave Le Bourdiec, for nine years. Gustave was born in 1872 in Ile d'Arz, Morbihan, in the south of Brittany. He was the son of Pierre Francois Le Bourdiec and Marie Adolphine Lorho. In 1914 he married Louise Aimee Augustine Robert in Portbail, Normandy. Her family owned the Hotel des Voyageurs in Barneville, nearby on the Normandy coast.

Mr and Mrs Le Bourdiec and their car outside their Gorey Pier premises

War intervenes

Le Bourdiec's British Hotel, as it became known, was undoubtedly very busy when Gustave first took on the lease, but the outbreak of the Great War in 1914 must have severely affected his business. There were few arrivals from France at Gorey for the next four years, save for seasonal agricultural workers, and virtually no traffic in the opposite direction. However, the business seems to have survived and grown again after the end of the war, andMr Le Bourdiec's lifestyle would seem to indicate that business was good.

He not only owned a yacht, which he moored in Gorey Harbour, but also what was arguably the island's best racehorse of the era. Named '75', the horse won the prestigious His Majesty's Cup at the Jersey Race Club's first meeting after the war on Thursday 15 July 1920. There were only three horses entered in the 3 o'clock race, but '75' was nevertheless in good company. Mr A Raworth's aged mare 'Little May Queen' had already triumphed on four occasions between 1908 and 1912, and Mrs J Forsyth's 'Jopffretta' was bred from the 1910 winner 'Red May'.

Gustave Le Bourdiec's success was given added prominence when he rode '75' at Springfield Stadium on 12 July 1921 to be presented to King George V, who was on an official visit to the island and was doubtless interested to see the horse which had won his cup the year before.

When Gustave's lease of the hotel expired the property was sold by George Lestang to Ernest Gordon Trevor Ward Simpson. In 1950 it was sold to John Arthur Patrick Harrison, and renamed the Moorings Hotel. It was again sold in 1969 to Mr J M Fitzpatrick, and completely modernised.

Gustave and his wife had another hotel at Le Croisic in south Britanny, which they did not operate very long, and bought a house in Saint Pierre de Quiberon. After Gustave died, Louise stayed in the house until poor health forced her to return to live with family in Normandy, where she died in 1969 or 70.

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