Coast: Rozel

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This article by Doug Ford, a respected authority on Jersey's maritime history, was part of his Coast series for the Jersey Evening Post, and was first published in 2015

"About half a league to the north west (of St Catherine) is a small creek, called Rosel [1], where the Islanders keep several boats, both for fishing and for going to Les Ecréhous, there to fetch such seaweed, as they burn, and manure their land with. The leading marks for the harbour were the two chimneys of the northernmost house upon that harbour one by the other." - Philippe Dumaresq, Survey of the Island of Jersey, 1685

Sweetest bay

In 1834 Henry Inglis described Rozel as “one of, if not the sweetest bays of Jersey” in the first serious guide book to the islands which was aptly called The Channel Islands.



Rozel was described as a port as early as 1274, although it would have simply been a landing place. The first port structures only appeared in the 19th century, despite the fact that during the English Civil War a Royalist ship was based here. Its main role has been as a fishing harbour.

In 1791 it was agreed that a chain on which boats could be moored should be placed in the harbour.

In 1810 about six or eight small boats were based here, but as the oyster fishery developed in the years following Waterloo, numbers grew, and by 1820 there were 30 vessels.

In 1820 the States of Jersey discussed a petition from the inhabitants of Trinity and St Martin. Attempts had been made for many years to give the boats at Rozel Harbour more shelter, because it was said that only six to eight boats could be moored there. With the growing oyster fishery the States agreed to build a quay and a pier in 1824. In 1829 the Harbours Committee awarded the contract to Philip Godfray and work was completed the following year at a cost of about £2,000 - 30 oyster boats could be accommodated.

Pier completed

Once the pier was built, fishermen’s cottages were constructed along the approach road. One of these has an unusual datestone above the front door. Dated 1832 the initials JRS and JLS are linked by a tilted ampersand, rather than by the more usual hearts.

In 1831 development of the role of the harbour continued when Rozel was given the same rights relating to the disembarkation of beef as St Helier, St Aubin and Gorey. By July 1845 the States agreed that the port needed its own Harbourmaster and George Noel was appointed to the post. The Harbourmaster’s account for Rozel from 1849 shows that 90 vessels paying harbour dues arrived in the port during the year. Half of these visits were by the Esperance and the Phoenix.

Fishing boats shelter in the harbour in the early 20th century

In 1856 the Register of the Oyster Fisheries shows that 17 of the island’s oyster dredgers were based in Rozel. Within ten years the oyster industry was finished and the fishermen either had to stick with the less lucrative local fishing, or else go further afield dredging in the Channel around Barfleur. By 1871 two of the larger cutters were dredging in the Irish Sea.

It was not only at sea that people had accidents – on the evening of Monday 24 May 1874 a Mrs Cabot, of Trinity, was backing her horse and cart on to the pier when the cart went over the side dragging the horse and Mrs Cabot into the sea. Some passers-by were able to extricate Mrs Cabot from the tangle, but the horse drowned.


Despite having no official lifeboat stationed there, Rozel does have its place in Jersey’s lifeboat history, for it was here that the island’s first lifeboat was built by a Mr Lillington, a shipwright from Weymouth, under the supervision of Captain Wiliam Symonds, RN. It was launched on 17 May 1830 and then sailed to Havre des Pas, where it was to be stationed. Rozel was also the first official job for the RNLB Howard D. On 20 November 1937 she was called to pick up the master of the mv Affaric so that he could attend the inquest on one of his men who had died as a result of an accident at Ronez Quarry.

On either side of the barracks are slipways, Le Brecque du Sud and Le Brecque du Nord. A brecque is a gap in a sea wall or embankment, which may indicate that during the 18th century the whole bay was protected by a seawall. The actual slipway was only built in 1862 as part of a contract that also saw the removal of rocks at the entrance to the harbour.

Further reading

Notes and references

  1. This is the old spelling of Rozel - although as our map suggests, it was earlier known as Roselle. By convention the bay and its harbour, and the surrounding area, are now referred to as Rozel, but the manor, is still described as Rosel Manor

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