Minutes of the meeting held on Tuesday May 17th 2005 at 5.15pm, Members’ Room



            Members present :

Frank Falle (Chairman), Pamela Adams, Marie-Louise Backhurst, Don Bell, Mervyn Billot, Roy Dobin, Caroline Easterbrook, Sue Groves, Douglas Hooke, Sally Knight, George Langlois, Georgia Le Maistre, Bob Le Sueur, David Levitt, Ian Machin, Will Millow, Winston Pinel, Alec Podger, Philip Stevens, Wendy Tilling, Bill Towers.


Bob Le Sueur volunteered to take the minutes as Mary Billot was unable to be present.



1.         Apologies for absence :

Yvonne Aston, Jean Bell, Mary Billot, Guy Dixon, Gerry France, Mary Gibb, Sue Hardy, Tertius Hutt, Sarah Jordan, Nick Jouault, Frank Le Blancq, David Le Maistre.



2.         Minutes of the meeting of April 19th 2005 and amendments

3.5.2.    Gerry France e-mailed Mary Billot to point out that the Town Church railings have been green for several years. Painters have started to prepare the railings for painting. Gerry would like to know if they have been painted in other colours.

            The minutes were then approved as a correct record.



3.         Matters arising from the minutes not covered by the agenda

2.4.2          Frank Falle said he would step in with another subject if Jean Arthur were unable to give an Autumn lunchtime lecture because of uncertainty about the material from Newfoundland.

4.6        Marie-Louise Backhurst has received draft 4 of the programme for the Brittany visit. It includes the Carnac alignments and various châteaux including the completely rebuilt Château de Suscinio, which she hoped was not controversial. She also reported that she has contacts in Bayeux, which might result in a visit to Normandy in 2006.

5.8        Gerry France reported by e-mail that Alfred Amy married Roza Christine Lacy at St Peter’s Church, Parish of Highgate Hill/Upper Holloway, London, on 14 April 1909. He had met her in London. Gerry’s research continues.

5.12      Frank Falle reported that a primary school teacher, who wishes to remain anonymous, would be prepared to act as co-ordinator for the teaching of local history, as far as possible.



4.         Chairman’s communications

There were no chairman’s communications.



5.         Members’ contributions

5.1        Sue Groves reminded the meeting that the Jersey Archive would be five years old on July 25th 2005 and that the Channel Islands Family History Society would be holding an open day on July 14th. She anticipated receiving the St Peter’s Parish records shortly, which will require sorting.

5.2               Alec Podger queried the origin of the St Helier street name, Drury Lane. The late Joan Stevens had supposed that it was named after the London Drury Lane, which had been a ‘red light ‘area. He wondered if the local Drury Lane, a quiet lane between Rouge Bouillon and Trinity Road, might have had a similar reputation. Members could give no further information.

5.3               Georgia Le Maistre reported that the Nicolle Tower, St Clement, property of the Landmark Trust, opened to the public for 14 May only. It is a self-catering holiday let organised on three floors. There are panoramic views from the top floor observation slits, which were added during the German Occupation. A compass rose incised into the bedrock (dated 1644) had intrigued her. David Levitt said that it was similar to parallel stones on the Norwegian coasts.

Roy Dobin said that the handout on the history of the Tower had mis-translated the German word ‘meile’ as ‘miles’.

5.4               Sally Knight spoke on La Rocque Godaine (La Rogodaine), Grouville. It was a tor destroyed between 1868 and 1872 and used for quarrying. Could the name have Viking connotations?  Philip Stevens thought that ‘dain’ meant ‘deer’ not ‘Dane’. Frank Falle said that there was firm evidence that it had been used for pagan practices, like Rocqueberg.

5.5               Philip Stevens said that he has been researching water mills with Chris Aubin. He circulated photographs of Vicart Mill in Waterworks Valley (Le Chemin des Moulins). The Germans destroyed the building; the pond in the foreground of the photograph would have been used for the next mill down the valley, Le Moulin à Sucre, so called because it was used to grind sugar from the West Indies.

5.6               Marie-Louise Backhurst commented on a report prepared by Chris Aubin, Paul Drury and Kirsty Rodwell on the block of properties in Pitt and Dumaresq Streets, which gives the significance of the buildings, history of ownership and suggestions as to use. She contested the remark on page 11 ‘the older town, which essentially still had a mediaeval plan with just one wide main street. By this time (1795) new development was beginning to fan out along the streets from Charing Cross at the west end of St Helier, including Dumaresq/Pitt Street and Hue Street to the north’. The Hue street properties are probably at least from the 1690s and archaeology has shown older houses of the 13/14th centuries in Old Street. The mill (Debénaire)  in Planque Billot (York Street) moved c.1579 to Bond Street; it was a fulling mill so it would have been very noisy. She believes it more likely that infilling of vacant lots occurred to form contiguous buildings and streets.

She also speculated whether there were saltpans in St Helier, as well as at the eastern end of St Clement. She thought that there was a reference in the Trumbull journals but has to locate the page reference. It was known that salt was imported from France but there would have been a need for locally produced salt during the frequent wars with France.

She said that St Clement’s Priory had a market – was it a fair or a weekly market and where was it held? She has contacted the foreman of the new housing development off Jambart Lane to ask him to watch out for any signs of structural remains.

5.7               Bill Towers is still working on his study of the developing competition between the Weymouth and Southampton ferry routes in the early 19th century.

5.8               Winston Pinel spoke of his research into the Guernsey tidal wave on January 11th 1749 when there was extensive flooding on the west coast. The Guernsey diarist, Pierre Allez, reported it; offshore submarine earth tremors were thought to be responsible as an exceptionally high tide was followed by a low tide which had uncovered rocks never previously seen.

He asked for help in his studies of the origins of the Pinel and Paisnel families whose M26 DNA samples indicated that they were descended from Palaeolithic Man which had survived the last Ice Age in the Pyrenees region, particularly the Basque country in both Spain and France. He wondered whether anyone knew of any names in Jersey of possible Basque origin.

5.9               Douglas Hooke asked what happened to the roof timbers from the old 13 Broad Street, previously occupied by Bigwoods for whom he had worked. He recalled that they had tongue and groove joints. Alec Podger said that he had seen Jersey furniture made in that way and asked whether this was characteristic of Jersey carpenters. Marie-Louise Backhurst said that timber from old sailing ships was usually recycled, often for roofing.

5.10            Will Millow reported on a rumour circulating in Jersey in 1897 that the British government was thinking of exchanging the Channel Islands with the French for territory elsewhere. Agitated letters appeared in the Evening Post and the Marquess of Salisbury, then Prime Minister, denied any talk of it in the House of Lords. The rumour had possibly arisen because of the proposed removal of the English garrison. Marie-Louise added that the 1901 census showed 6,000 French nationals living in Jersey.



6.0               Date of next meeting

            Tuesday June 21st 2005 at 5.15pm, in the Members’ Room if available, otherwise in the Arthur Mourant Room.