The Jersey Leader (1935-1938)
From two articles in the Jersey Evening Post's Temps Passé page
The Jersey Leader was a short-lived weekly newspaper in the 1930s with the motto: ‘With Malice toward none – with Charity for all’. The paper was a weekly and in an age when advertisements dominated the front page of the Evening Post, The Jersey Leader’s front page was far more in tune with what we would be used to these days.
The stories which dominate the paper seem to owe an awful lot to the time of year and pictures abound of bathing beauties and chaps in cricket whites.
The paper took quite a strong stance and made its own comment on the stories of the day, rather than simply report in the style of a paper of record. One story, for instance, is headlined: 'The Public Ought to Know who FAILED'.
- ‘TWO reports on the crane accident on Victoria Pier which entailed the loss of a young, valued life, and the spending of thousands of pounds of States’ money, have recently reached us. Why they have not been made public can easily be surmised.
- ‘It is the public’s money that has been expended. It is the public officials that are being blamed for this unfortunate catastrophe. It is the public who should be the final arbiters, after all the evidence is before it, as to who must incur reprimand for failing in duty.’
Adverts on the first few pages do include some names which are still familiar, including the Midbay Café, Cooper & Co, Besco, Béghin’s and F Le Gallais & Sons. Jersey Agricultural Products invited the public to inspect the methods employed in producing their ‘clean, pure, pedigree Jersey milk’.
On page 7 lies the curious story, trailed on the front page, entitled Nudity: The Case for Bodily SANITY. Signed off by ‘Sun Worshipper’ the article puts forward the nudist argument.
- ‘The deep-rooted, inbred sex and nudity taboos give rise to prejudices that, when examined, are found to be without logical support. This is shown by reluctance to discard clothes in the presence of others, and is not confined to members of the opposite sexes, but exists to a degree, between those of the same sex.’
The Leader also contained a single page pictorial supplement displaying pictures from the Jersey Floral Carnival of August 1 1935. A particular favourite was the weekly feature Woman at Home by Sally. As well as some useful tips on accessorising an evening outfit on a limited budget, Sally offered sardine eggs and mixed fruit compote as recipes. But it is her Health and Beauty tips which will stick in the mind.
- ‘To get beautifully tanned is a summer wish. To tan well, the tanning must be gradual. One of the most successful ways is using vinegar. Rub the skin with ordinary table vinegar. This hardens the skin and tans a lovely shade. After a couple of days of the vinegar treatment, use a good sun-tan cream to counteract the rather drying effects of the vinegar.’
The Jersey Leader was published for three years, from 1935 to 1938. Given its content it should not come as a surprise that the two men responsible for its production were overtly political figures. Ralph Renouf set up the Jersey Leader in partnership with Ned Le Quesne. Both men had particularly strong political convictions which came to the fore when normality began to return to the Island following the end of the Occupation.
Ralph Renouf had considered going into politics in Jersey but, in the early 1930s, decided to turn his hand to publishing instead. He had also worked in America for a number of years, and when he returned to Jersey he did so with a testimonial from the editor of an American paper. When he found that he was interested in local affairs, he and Ned Le Quesne set up the Jersey Leader, publishing their first edition in 1935.
While in England during the Occupation Ralph Renouf had far from forgotten his native island and was for many years a member of the Channel Islands Refugee Committee. The family returned to the Island at the end of the war and Ralph Renouf once again took an active interest in Island affairs. He was clearly a proponent of social justice and in the 1950s was a supporter of the introduction of the family allowance at a time when many people did not think it was the right thing to do.
The tributes paid to him on his death in 1954 suggested that he had developed a name for himself when it came to social affairs. The Evening Post’s Meridian was one of those to make a comment about his role in Island life. In the Under the Clock column – which in those days was run on the front page – Meridian wrote that Ralph Renouf was a man who held strong views and was never afraid of expressing them. According to the column, he had a deep interest in local industrial life, in particular in regard to employee/employer relations.
‘He had established a reputation as a fair and just man. He worked hard in the interests of the Federation of Jersey Employers and at the time of his death was a much respected past president,’ wrote Meridian.
Ned Le Quesne
The second proprietor, Ned Le Quesne, was even more a political figure. He was elected as a Deputy for St Helier No 2 in 1925 and then became Senator in 1948. According to Vol 2 of the Biographical Dictionary of Jersey, Deputy Le Quesne’s socialist views made him a lone figure in the States, even though he joined at a time when change was in the air.
Even before his political career, he had shown a great interest in public works and was instrumental in providing a fund for providing wireless sets for the blind and was also an active member of the St Helier Poor Law Commission. Once a member of the States he – and the other representatives of St Helier – supported the bill for old age pensions.
During the Occupation, he was one of eight States Members who, with the Crown Officers, made up the Superior Council that assumed responsibility for all operations of the States. His special area of responsibility was as president of the Department of Labour Committee.
To minimise the number of people who might have to be conscripted to work for the Germans, many schemes for widening and improving the roads were devised.
Mr Le Quesne’s department managed any number of improvements, buildings and repairs, but its greatest success was that throughout the Occupation no one was compelled to work for the Germans.
Shortly after D-Day he was imprisoned by the Germans after his wireless set was discovered. He was sentenced to seven months but he was released after three weeks and then petitioned for the release of other prisoners.
‘Likeable and with high sense of humour, Le Quesne championed the cause of the under-dog and devoted himself to the welfare of Jersey folk. His firm socialist views were, however, frowned upon by many Islanders, not least because of the expensive projects that sprang from them. Mr Le Quesne died in 1957.
All in all, given the other contributions to the life of the community, it seems that the Jersey Leader was just the tiniest part of a lifetime of work for the benefit of others.