St Helier harbours to the beginning of the 19th century

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This article by Alec Podger was first published in the 2001 Annual Bulletin of La Société Jersiaise

Introduction

In medieval times most vessels were small enough to come close inshore at high tide, drop anchor, and as the tide receded they were left high and dry on the beach, where they were unloaded into carts. This was still common practice well into the early 19th century.

Any bay with a gently-sloping beach made a suitable harbour unless the approach was too rocky, while locally others acquired the name of port, portelet, or havre because they were sheltered anchorages, though they may not all have been satisfactory for beaching.

From very early times there have always been a lot of small boats using the little bays around the Island, and at the beginning of the 13th century, when the population of Jersey has been estimated at about 11,000, some 3,000 people were earning their living either by fishing or in the fish trade, which accounted for substantial quantities exported annually.

The first official map, the Richmond map, surveyed in 1787 and published in 1795, only shows piers at St Helier and St Aubin, and at the Hermitage Rock. It is known that other piers had existed before this date, such as those at St Brelade, Gorey and Havre des Pas. There are piers at the two former sites today.

Were they in such a bad state then that they were considered unusable, and have since been restored, or were they simply ignored as of no importance? The map was drawn up for military reasons by army personnel, who at that period rarely saw that there might be a possible connection between themselves and the sea. It took the Napoleonic Wars, a decade later, to change that point of view.

The 1787 Duke of Richmond map clearly shows the south pier and La Folie jetty, but nothing on the Havre des Pas side of South Hill

The harbour

No principal town of any island would be able to exist without a port, yet local writers and speakers, when referring to St Helier and its harbour, still continue today to broadcast the fallacy which was best expressed by Balleine when he wrote

”It seems extraordinary, for a sea-faring community, that ships coming into St Helier could find no better shelter than a broken-down jetty at La Folie, until the late 18th century."

The implication here seems to be that the inhabitants of St Helier had never made any real effort to achieve a harbour adequate for their requirements, but were content to sit back and let the harbour at St Aubin act as the main harbour of the Island.

Some 19th century writers argued that St Aubin was at one time the capital town of the Island, simply because they recognised the relationship between a port and a principal town, and St Aubin had had a better port than St Helier in some respects for over two centuries

Amongst local historians only Philip Ahier came near to the truth with his article in the Société Jersiaise Bulletin Col Legge's Accompt of Jersey (1679), which is referred to in more detail later in this article, but he made the mistake of simply describing a harbour without putting the story into its full context, so that the significance of its construction was not fully appreciated by most readers at that time. This lack of appreciation may also be partly due to the fact that the harbour had disappeared so completely during the 18th century that it no longer even existed in legend or folklore, except for the use of the word havre in the name of the locality,

14th century

There is strong circumstantial evidence that St Helier was a port as far back as the early 14th century, and probably before then, though it may well not have had a pier or jetty, Very few places did at that period, when beaching was the norm. G F B de Gruchy, in his Medieval Land Tenures in Jersey, states that in 1309 there were 92 bakers and taverners in the parish of St Helier, compared with 280 in the other eleven parishes.

St Helier therefore had nearly four times as many as any other parish, with their average of between 25 and 26 each, The population was fairly evenly spread throughout the Island, though rather more thickly in the east than in the west, and the town of St Helier had about half the population of the parish as a whole. Even allowing for the fact that the town held the weekly market does not explain such a large difference.

Countryfolk throughout most of Europe did not normally buy their bread in towns, but baked it themselves, and it seems improbable that the very considerable difference can be taken up entirely with taverners, though they may have sold wine, while most country taverns would only have had ale.

The difference can be easily explained, however, if several of these bakers and taverners were acting as ships' chandlers in a fairly busy port, and this number would imply a build-up over the years. Clearly they would not have appeared spontaneously at the date given.

An early pier at Gorey, though almost without doubt a reality in order to cope with the many demands of the castle and its garrison, and also an early pier at St Helier, must remain conjectural, but despite this, the first pier anywhere in the Island of which we have satisfactory evidence was at St Helier.

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Haven of Jersey

There is a manuscript chart in the British Museum, dated at 1545, and entitled The Haven of Jersey, which looks to us rather amateurly drawn. The aspect of the hills and valleys is greatly overemphasised, but this was usual at this period, because the art of contour drawing was still in its infancy.

The drawings of the ships, on the other hand, show that the artist was highly proficient, and may well have been the equivalent of a naval engineer or surveyor, for there are several types of vessel carefully portrayed.

The larger vessels are seen where one would expect them at this time, at anchor in the shelter of Noirmont headland, where there is deep water, and close to St Aubin's Tower, the building of which had been authorised in 1542 to protect that anchorage.

The illustration, showing the whole of St Aubin's Bay, also shows only one pier, and that is at St Helier. The representation is of a strong stone embankment sheltering ships, composed of massive stones at the southern section, which faces the incoming tide, with the enfolding arm gradually tapering to smaller stones, while a little embankment nearer the shore would seem to be designed to protect the ships from the outward rebound of the waves.

The latter in particular, if this interpretation is correct, clearly implies some knowledge in the art of harbour construction, though that experience may have come from elsewhere, while the detail shown in drawing the relative sizes of stones again suggests a technical specialist rather than an artist.

Court fines

In 1552 fines imposed by the Royal Court were set aside towards the building of the Havre Neuf (New Harbour) at St Helier. This New Harbour is the first that we can read about, and for local historians in general the words Havre Neuf came to mean no more than the name of that early Town Pier, as it was later called, where the present-day South Pier now stands.

It did, in fact, retain that name for more than a century. But in my own lifetime, when referring to the two main harbours at St Helier that existed up to the 1960s, before the substantial additions of recent years, we used to call then simply the 'Old Harbour' and the 'New Harbour', the latter being that enclosed by the Victoria and Albert Piers.

This also was more than a century after it had been built. No doubt our ancestors did the same, so that the term Havre Neuf could also simply mean the harbour most recently constructed. Does this not then also imply that an old harbour existed, or may have existed?

Three harbours

By 1585 the States found it necessary to nominate as Collector for the Taxes on Wines and Spirits, Servais le Vavasseur de Bois, who was appointed to oversee the three harbours at St Helier. These were the harbours at l'Islet, (later called the Havre St Jaume) on which Elizabeth Castle was soon to be built, the Havre du Mont (or Havre Neuf, as it was still also called), and the Havre des Pas.

It might be argued that the Collector was collecting from beached vessels, but there is clear evidence that there was a either a built pier or a pier under construction at each of these sites at about this time. Two years later a notice was published to the effect that a fine of 20 francs would be imposed on anyone taking stones from the Havre Neuf pier. This might imply either that builders were working on the pier, with piles of stones awaiting use, or, less likely, that the stonework of the pier was loose and unstable.

The harbour at l'Islet, known as the Havre St Jaume, must have been usable by the time the Collector was appointed, but it was being built with voluntary contributions, principally from the merchants, and in 1599 it was still unfinished due to lack of funds.

This disproves the long-held idea that it was built to serve the Castle, though at a much later date this became its sole use. It is mentioned as being in use during the Civil War (1642-1649, but 1643-1651 in Jersey), and Dumaresq described it in 1685 as "a small pier, unfinisht, under the Castle Walls, at the East side by a Sally port, where the Castle Boats are usually kept, and where greater Vessels may be safe, but the entrance is narrow and dangeroust". This is therefore a different pier to that shown on the Richmond map, as mentioned above.

The map drawn by Thomas Phillips in 1679 to illustrate Col Legge's observations is the only one which clearly shows a jetty on the Havre des Pas side of South Hill. This jetty was said to be over 100 metres long

Havre des Pas mystery

The existence of a pier at Havre des Pas at this time remains somewhat of a mystery. There are too many rocks for a satisfactory beaching area, especially when this was so easily available between l'Islet and the town. It would seem that this, too, was usable by 1585, again taking the appointment of the Collector as a guide, but then Le Geyt states:

"En 1602, le 29 May. Apres Record de Denonciateur d'avoir visite une piece de bois venue au Gravage du Fief du Mont de St-Helier, entre le havre de bas et le havre neuf, sur le Fief de la Fosse, en presence de six hommes, ladite piece de bois fut mise en la possession d'Helier de Carteret, Sieur dudit Fief, a cause de sa femme."

The phrase "between the havre de bas and the havre neuf" must, in fact, refer to the Havre des Pas. The position stated suggests this, and no other reference to the Havre de Bas has come to light.

In 1618 a petition was sent to the Privy Council requesting leave to levy an import duty of one sou Tournois on every pot of wine imported for local sale, and an import duty on commodities, "to build a safe pier". This was approved by the Council, and again confirmed in 1628.

It now seems clear that the harbour they built (or rebuilt?) was the Havre des Pas, which lasted for less than a century, and then decayed so rapidly, probably due to storm damage, that only its name remained.

On the other hand, although it is on the lee side of the Montagne de la Ville, the best situation for a sheltered harbour, the area is very rocky. It may be that entry and exit was found so hazardous that the pier was deliberately dismantled, the stone being used to once again rebuild the Havre Neuf, or Town Pier, just around the end of the headland. This could account for its apparent total disappearance.

Accompt of Jersey

It was described in detail in 1680 by Lt-Col George Legge in his Accompt of Jersey, accompanied by Phillips' map of the previous year, as under:

"At the outward head there is a 24-foot [sic] at high water, vessels of 50, 60 or 100 tuns may lye safe. The Peere is in length 5 chains 24 links [346 feet], in the seat 25 feet, at the top 12 feet and 10 feet high. There are several other harbours about the Island as at Havre des Pas, where the inhabitants of the Town of St Helier are very earnest to have licence from His Majtie to build something ... "

This account of Legge's, and especially his final statement, confirms my argument that the people of St Helier had been trying for years to have a proper harbour, though without much success.

That this harbour had replaced the Havre Neuf as the principal harbour of St Helier during most of the 17th century is clear. From Chevalier's Diary, written during the Civil War, there are references to its use during this period, and not one to the Havre Neuf. This is not to say that the Havre Neuf was not in use by small traders, but clearly the larger vessels were using the Havre des Pas.

There is also only one to the Havre St Jaume, already mentioned above, in which he tells how a patache and a barque (one of Sir George Carteret's prizes) were both damaged beyond repair by a severe storm in March 1645/6 whilst in that harbour. No doubt also, as Elizabeth Castle was virtually on a war footing during the period of the Civil War, that harbour was closed to normal use.

The map drawn by Peter Meade in 1737 to accompany his recommendations shows a thin, rounded jetty with no accompanying La Folie pier. Havre des Pas is shown as an anchorage for small vessels but with no pier

Chevalier

Chevalier's references to the Havre des Pas are as under:

  • 1643, November 20, General Lydcot ... embarked at Le Havre des Pas, with his gentlemen.
  • Sir Henry Killigrew ... died [at St Malo] on Saturday, September 27, 1646. His embalmed body was transported to le havre des pas, thence to St Helier
  • 1646/7, 1 February - la compagnie des Irrois [Irish troops] q estois en Jersey sanbarqua tant du vieux chastaux q du haure des pas

Also during this period Prince Charles and his entourage are described in Chevalier as landing at Elizabeth Castle, but they came in a naval vessel far too large for any of these harbours, and would have come ashore in a shallop or cutter, what would nowadays be described as a naval pinnace.

William Trumbull, chancellor of Rochester diocese and later Secretary of State, visited Jersey in 1677 with his brother Charles, chaplain to William Sancroft. (Sancroft became Archbishop of Canterbury in the following year. Charles wrote a diary which will be published by the Societe Jersiaise in the near future, and from its content they also are understood to have landed at Havre des Pas, though the wording is not specific enough to be certain.

There is a court record of a dispute dated 1677/18 between Philippe Dumaresq, seigneur of La Fosse, and the Constable of St Helier, over possession of a cottage described as la Maison du Guet, (meaning the Watch-house) situated at what is now called Mount Bingham. This cottage, which does appear to be of 17th century origin, but which awaits an archaeological survey before it can be dated with reasonable accuracy, still stands in the La Collette Gardens, and according to the document was built by the Parish of St Helier pour l'usage du guet.

There is a small double aperture at the eastern end of the south-facing wall, and it has been suggested that the use of this somewhat unusual aperture was for placing signal lamps for shipping. In fact it is situated just to the north of the entry to the Havre des Pas, so that while its title does infer merely a watch-house its situation suggests rather a pierhead control for that harbour.

On the other hand, the interpretation of the court record could well mean that it was probably new in 1677, which would seem a late date to be adding to this harbour's facilities, unless it was to replace a former one.

Lt-Col. Legge's account of 1680, accompanied by Phillips' map, has already described this pier, with no suggestion that it was in decay. Phillips was a Master Gunner, and his job here, under Legge, was to survey and advise on the fortifications, so that we can assume that his map, which clearly shows a built harbour at the Havre des Pas side of the Montagne de la Ville, is reasonably reliable, but it is in fact both helpful and yet posing some problems.

Four piers

He only shows four piers in the Island, at Gorey, Le Hocq (of which we have no other reference), the Havre des Pas and in St Brelade's Bay, the latter being clearly marked as 'La Chaussee'. Oddly, it is also the only one so marked, and as it is fairly close under the churchyard, but clearly not a part of it, is he using the 'sea-wall' definition for a protective dyke rather than a jetty?

He shows no pier at all either at the site of the Havre Neuf or at the Havre St Jaume, and in view of the fact that there is no mention by Chevalier of the Havre Neuf, and only one of the Havre St Jaume,it does seem feasible that both were so decrepit that they were no longer of use except to shelter small boats.

Phillips does not show the pier at St Aubin's Fort on his map, but this was only in the very early stages of construction, and in his detailed drawing of the fort he shows it as a long rubble mound, which to my mind confirms that he was most careful to be accurate.

In 1685 Philippe Dumaresq, Seigneur of Samares and of La Fosse, on which fief the Town Hill is situated, passed contract before the Royal Court with the procureurs of the Vingtaine de la Ville, who were to raise the funds "a estre employe au bastiment d'une chaussee au Havre des Pas".

'Bastiment' appears here to mean 'in the building of' rather than its definition of 'building trade'. No dictionary that I have found (not even one of the very early 19th century) defines the word 'chaussee' as a jetty or pier. It can be a road, a carriage-way, or a sea-wall, but Phillips does use that term for what seems to be a jetty at St Brelade, and in 1706 the States formed the 'Comite tenu pour l'avancemt de la Chaussee de St Hellier' specifically to rebuild the Town Pier.

It would seem, therefore, that this use of the word was, and still is, strictly local, and that the vingtaine's responsibility was to work on the existing pier at Havre des Pas.

Only six years later (1691) it is somewhat differently described by Dumaresq. "About half a mile from the Town, there was once a Peer designed, and begun at the water-front of the Town Hill, called Havre Neuf - aforementioned, but found inconvenient, and so laid aside, as since another at the South point of the said Hill, called Havres des Pas (sic) was intended for greater vessels than those it is now fit for, which use the St Malo's trade: but its entrance is also narrow, and full of rocks that it discourages the bestowing of any charges about it.”

This clearly implies that it was still in some use by fairly small ships, but in general abandoned as inadequate, but where does Dumaresq's contract of 1685 with the procureurs of the vingtaine fit in?

He was foregoing his rights in the vingtaine, but in exchange there was a proposal for some building work seemingly related to the harbour, though the exact meaning of the wording is not at all clear, and we have no further knowledge of any such work. There was never a proper road to it, though what is now called the La Collette Walk may have been constructed for the use of the carters employed when the harbour was in course of construction.

The 1783 map shows the South Pier and La Folie jetty in a different shape from Peter Meade's map 46 years earlier

Aerial photograph

The pier does not appear at all on Meade's Survey map of 1737, and today its remains are no longer visible from the shore, though they still showed very clearly on an aerial photograph taken in the 1930s, when a map of the Island was being prepared.

In this photograph, under the sea, which appeared black, was a white back-to-front L-shape joined to the land, of a size which would appear to agree with Legge's description, and just beneath the Victorian tower on the headland. Unfortunately this photograph, which used to be on display in the Map Room of the former Societe Jersiaise Museum, has since disappeared.

Cartographical evidence from the late 17th century is not fully trustworthy on this subject. Neither Lempriere’s map of 1694, which shows the pier at St Aubin's Fort, but no other pier or jetty anywhere in the Island, nor Norden's, of 1695, shows anything relating to maritime requirements anywhere, which would seem to imply that they were only interested in the natural structure of the Island itself, not in man-made additions.

Fishing fleet

During the 17th century, and especially after the Restoration of King Charles II in 1660, Jersey had built up a substantial fleet for use in the fishing-grounds off Newfoundland and Canada. There were too many of the larger vessels used in this trade for them to shelter off the coasts of Jersey, and they had to winter at St Malo in Brittany, where there was a large natural harbour.

Some vessels were even owned jointly by merchants of St Malo and of Jersey, and even in times of war, relations between the Malouins and Jerseymen normally remained amicable. Nevertheless there was an obvious need for a new harbour at St Helier, made even more urgent by a political change in the status of the Channel Islands.

From the year 1483 onwards the Islands had had the right to be neutral in times of war, and though there were occasional breaches of this neutrality they had enjoyed a considerable degree of peace and prosperity, but in 1689 William III ordered the discontinuance of this privilege. As a consequence of this edict these vessels could be liable to seizure should war break out between France and England, as it had done periodically over many centuries. More harbour accommodation in Jersey was imperative.

The States decided that once again the Havre Neuf should be rebuilt, and work began in 1700, as soon as the pier being built at St Aubin at that time was finished. By 1703 short-term loans were being raised from local merchants and others, repayment to be made from the Impot duties.

It is probable, though not certain, that the first work done was the dismantling of the old pier, which was clearly in a very decrepit state, and possibly of the Havre des Pas also, to re-use its stones in the new work. The 'Great Storm' of 26 and 27 November 1703, in which some 8,000 people were drowned all along the south coast of England, must have seriously affected whatever work had been done so far.

Harbours Committee

On 18 March 1706 a States committee was appointed to take charge, the 'Committee tenu pour l' avancemt de la Chaussee de St Hellier'. By the time of its second sitting, on 7 April 1706, only three weeks later, it seems to have enlarged its own powers, and was known as the 'Comité pour les Chaussées' .

The oldest of all the States' committees, (which shows the importance that they have always attached to the harbour facilities of the Island) it has been responsible for the upkeep and creation of Island harbours ever since that date. It is now known as the Harbours and Airport Committee.

At the first meeting Abraham Dumaresq (later described as Gent) was engaged as bargemaster, Thomas Nicolle for "placing the stones of the pier", and Jean Denise for "work with the cart and otherwise as is deemed necessary". These were, of course, not the actual workers, but rather the principal employers.

Barge-crew were engaged later, the stone being brought by sea from Ouaisne, and Philip Le Gallais, Constable of St Helier and a member of the committee, was authorised to oversee the work and pay the men.

In 1708 it seems that work began to speed up. Jean Le Gallais was appointed as chief mason, with Philip Romeril as assistant; there were also four 'inspecteurs' and five quarrymen for cutting stone at 'Whesnel', later 'Whaisney', nowadays Ouaisné.

Most of these men were paid 20 sous a day, except the barge-men, who had less. The workforce was increased in 1711 with the addition of Jean Le Cornu 'and his horse' (17 sous), Jean Bisson 'and his horse' (15 sous), and eleven labourers, mostly at 10 sous, while in 1712 there were seven masons, four men 'with horse', four quarrymen at 22½ sous with four assistants at 12½ sous.

There was either a halt or a considerable slowdown not long afterwards, for after 1713 there are no further references in the committee minutes, though it is known that the States issued 50,000 livres Tournois in notes in 1720 "on completion of the work ".

The 1799 map shows the South Pier and La Folie jetty and also an isolated breakwater giving them some protection from heavy seas

Horse power

Men 'with horse' acted both as tractor for moving the stones and as crane for lifting the heavy blocks. This would have been done with the use of a pulley suspended between two spars lashed together in an A-shaped frame, propped against firm footings, and used in the same manner as the jib of a crane.

The fact that there were more men 'with horse' in the later stages could be due to the laying of the very heavy parapet blocks, these having to be lifted high and placed with great accuracy. A team of horses would have been necessary to raise them to the required height.

By this stage there may have been a crane, but its existence is very doubtful, and in any case it would have been fixed, as all cranes were at that time, and so unable to deal with the parapet-blocks. Cranes were a rarity in most ports until the 19th century. Unloading of ships was usually done using their own spars and tackle.

There is a drawing of the harbour made shortly after this period by John Bastide and Clement Lempriere. Bastide was a government ordnance engineer, working at Elizabeth Castle from 1730 to 1734, and it would seem probable that he drew the harbour and Lempriere added the ships.

If you study the picture carefully you will notice that there is a long extension of the pier at just above tide level, while the end of the pier seems not well finished. If, as it appears, they laid the foundations for the entire length and then began to build upwards, they in effect created a temporary reef, but there are records of other piers being built in this fashion elsewhere.

It may have been that Bastide was illustrating storm damage, but there is no record of this. On the other hand, it is known that a second 'Havre Neuf' was being constructed in 1735, this being the square quay on which the La Folie inn is situated today. Meade's map of 1737 shows the 'Town Peer' as a rather thin structure like half an octagon, but not the Havre Neuf, with a comment "not finished and very unsafe'.

There is no reference in the minutes of the committee as to either pier being not properly completed, so which one did he mean?

Lottery funding

On 11 January 1749/50 the States passed an Acte for the raising of a Public Lottery (a customary way of raising funds in the 18th century) to pay for more "work to be done on the Chaussee de St Helier" and George II gave £200 also.

Hamilton's map of 1781 (not illustrated) shows that the seaward end has been substantially strengthened, though only three of the four sections of semi-octagon remain. He also shows a small pier, which does not appear in other evidence, just to the north of the Town Pier, and no Havre Neuf. It does not seem to be logically situated, except to break the backwash from the shore, and it seems possible that it is simply a badly drawn Havre Neuf. But who knows?

In February 1768, only a month after its foundation, the Jersey Chamber of Commerce recommended to the States that a new quay should be built along the shore northwards from the Town Pier, but nothing came of this for many years, despite the fact that in 1779 there were no less than 71 ships owned or registered in Jersey, averaging about 100 tons each.

In November 1787 the Chamber of Commerce again pressed for harbour improvements, and presented to the Governor, Bailiff and Jurats, who had agreed to meet them, several plans for the improvement of both St Helier and St Aubin's harbours, with a recommendation that that of Mr Clement Hemery for the harbour of St Helier was, in their opinion, the best.

The plans were passed to the Harbours Committee which, after long deliberation, called in John Smeaton to advise them. He proposed plans for St Aubin, which the merchants there did not accept due to inadequate access by road, and also put forward plans of his own for St Helier, and though these plans for St Helier were not carried out, on the advice of local sea captains, the States decided to enlarge both harbours.

So once again it was the fear of war with France that led to the States decision to enlarge the harbours. The Battle of Jersey was only six years in the past, and the Revolution was raging.

Town pier rebuilt

Beginning in 1790, the old Town Pier was almost completely rebuilt, both strengthened and lengthened, and later became known as the South Pier, while the North Pier (nowadays known as the New North Quay) which was begun at the seaward end and gradually extended towards the shore, was worked on for some time, remained for some 30 years as a disconnected breakwater, and was finally joined to the land about 1834.

The harbour builders had at last unintentionally got the right idea, the necessity to shelter the English and French harbours, as they are known, from those fearsome gales, rather than to improve the harbour itself. The breakwater at Elizabeth Castle ultimately achieved that goal, but it was not begun until 1872, and so is outside the scope of this article, except to say that it would have been extremely expensive and much more difficult to construct a century earlier.

Conclusion

Returning to the criticism of local historians regarding the "broken-down jetty near the inn called La Folie" it is clear that though St Aubin had for a time become the leading commercial port, this view has not taken into account the full facts.

The merchants and the States had been struggling for 300 years to provide a safe harbour at St Helier, though the States were at times somewhat tardy, and there is little doubt that they were defeated principally by the necessity to build a harbour in one of the worst sites in the world.

It was open to the full force of gales from the south and south-west, as the breakwater at Elizabeth Castle did not yet exist to shelter the town shore, and it had to withstand the massive tidal range of up to 40 feet, as well as the fact that these tides reversed direction of flow four times in every 25 hours.

When one looks critically at the sepia drawing of 1770, and takes into account these facts, one is left full of admiration for what they had actually achieved. The abortive attempt to build it on the lee side of the Mont de la Ville, at Havre des Pas, had clearly shown that that area had too many rocks for the larger ships to use in safety.

The lee side of Noirmont would have made a better harbour, but the depth of the water in which to work would have involved enormous costs.

Guernsey's problems

On the other hand, neither the expertise nor the finance had been available to build a structure at Havre Neuf strong enough to last for many years. Guernsey had managed to achieve a fairly safe harbour as far back as the late 16th century, but they were luckier in that St Peter-Port is well sheltered from the west. Even so, Ansted describes their harbour as being "in course of construction for two centuries, from 1580 to 1780 ... " so that it is clear that they, too, had much difficulty.

Jersey was not alone in this - one reads in many sources of similar ports in England, especially in the south-west, where the words 'broken-down' or 'decayed' are the most frequent description of the piers up to this same period, and most of these ports only had about half the tidal range.

Timeline of 18th century references

The author describes these references to the pier during the 18th century as "utterly confusing":

  • 1730s Drawing by J Bastide and C Lempriere, engraved by C Toms, shows a fairly long pier, not showing apparent signs of neglect
  • 1735 Havre Neuf constructed, ie the La Folie Quay, not the Town Pier reconstructed
  • 1737 Meade's map shows a thin semi-octagon, but "not finished and very unsafe", and does not show the La Folie quay
  • 1749/50 States vote for "more work to be done on the pier"
  • 1755 Bellin's map shows no pier at all
  • 1762 Painting by D Serres shows what appears to be a sound structure, seen from the town
  • 1768 Chamber of Commerce recommend a new quay alongthe shore north from the Town Pier
  • 1770 Sepia drawing similar to Bastide and Lempriere's of the 1730s, but from a different viewpoint, shows large vessels tied up against the long pier, suggesting at least reasonable stability
  • 1781 Hamilton's map shows a pier similar to Meade, with another new arm from shore, and no La Folie Quay, unless his new quay is a distortioin of it
  • 1783 An officer's map shows apparent ruins of Meade's/Hamilton's pier, with more solid and shorter pier built on that site, and square La Folie quay has appeared
  • 1787 The Richmond map, which as the first Ordnance SUrvey map, has to be the most reliable, but comes in almost too late for most of this period. It shows a pier similar to Meade's of 1737, except that it is (now?) curveed rather than angular, and the pierhead is fully circular. It also shows the squar La Folie Quay, and a clear roadway from the town to the pier
  • 1790 The Town Pier was almost completely rebuilt and lengthened and the New North Quay begun from the seaward end, but only a few yards constructed to date
  • 1799 Bouillon/Stead's map is an amalgam of Hamilton's/an officer's but with the seaward end of the New North Quay now apparently rebuilt
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