1860 harbour plan
Having rejected an 1857 plan to create permanent deep-water berths inside St Helier Harbour, requiring boats to pass through a lock, the States turned their attention to a much grander scheme, involving an extension of the harbour into deep water towards Elizabeth Castle.
The idea was to build a long pier from the Castle south into an area which provided deep water at all stages of the tide, with a second pier running out towards it from La Collette, beyond the boundary of the existing harbour.
Chamber of Commerce
At the time the Jersey Chamber of Commerce was putting pressure on the States to provide better moorings for commercial vessels and hardly had work been completed on the Albert and Victoria Piers than plans were drawn up for them in 1860 by civil engineer G F Lydster, which included, among other things, a new hotel at West Park on the site of the Clarke shipyard, a viaduct from the shore to the Castle along the line of the present causeway, and a deep-water berth beyond the castle.
This plan did not find favour, but within a decade the States began to look at a similar, even more ambitious scheme.
George Balleine's History of Jersey describes the dilemma facing the island at a time when its maritime-based economy was booming:
- "In 1870 the fleet numbered some 450 vessels and more accommodation was needed. This was why the States had advertised inviting engineers to submit plans for yet another enlargement of harbour facilities. Forty-two had been sent in and the Harbours Committee had chosen that of Sir John Coode. This seemed a wise choice, for he was the most distinguished harbour-engineer of the century.
- "His plan was to build a breakwater out from Elizabeth Castle (this part of the scheme still stands), with another pier three-quarters of a mile long running out from La Collette to meet it.
- "But, alas, although the first stone had been laid with such panache, with banners in Jersey French proclaiming that the present harbour of 113 vergées was to be replaced by one of 855 vergees, their optimism was misplaced. The planners had not realized the strength of the waves that south-westerly gales send thundering in from the Atlantic.
- "In December 1874 two hundred feet of the eastern pier were swept away. This was rebuilt; buit next winter three hundred feet were destroyed. The following winter another grewat breach was made, and the States gave up the struggle. They dropped the idea of enlarging the harbour and concentrated on dredging. The failure had cost the States £160,000."
After this the size of the island's merchant fleet declined and the Victorian harbour served Jersey well for another century.
- The 1860 report in full
- 1857 harbour plan
- The 1870s harbour enlargement project, a detailed report by the engineer in charge
- A contemporary report of a failed harbour development, what went wrong