FolkestoneJack's Tracks

So much for nostalgia!

Posted in Jersey by folkestonejack on September 9, 2011

So, how did Jersey stack up to my childhood memories? Well, I guess to be honest that was always likely to be an impossible ask – if I’d gone back in time and visited the Jersey of my childhood as an adult it probably wouldn’t generate quite the same warm glow.

Changes

In the build up to my trip to Jersey I expected that much would have changed. Nevertheless, the scale of the (over)development that I saw was absolutely shocking. Maybe I wouldn’t have felt the same if I’d visited every year and watched the changes happen incrementally, but the contrast between the island I left in 1985 and the one I revisited in 2011 was so much greater than even I had anticipated.

The huge waterfront development feels like an out of proportion and ugly addition to the St Helier seafront, not helped by the dual carriageway isolating it from the town centre. It doesn’t strike me as a particularly people-friendly space either, which is a shame because it was always a pleasure to stroll along the esplanade (as it was) and out to the pier on our visits.

Incredibly the St Helier waterfront pales into comparison with the development in Portelet Bay which featured in an edition of the Jersey Evening Post I read during my stay (also available online at
Portelet revealed – so now what do you think?
) which seems a monstrous addition to the coastline. If this is the future for Jersey then I would say it’s a good time to go before the natural beauty of the place is swallowed up by luxury apartments!

I didn’t travel around the island to see the main tourist attractions, so I can’t really comment on how much these have changed – that will have to wait for a future trip. However, I did briefly visit Fort Regent which was always a highlight of my childhood holidays to Jersey.

Fort Regent

Fort Regent was constructed in the early years of the 19th century and sits in a prominent position above St Helier. In the 1970s it was converted into an entertainment complex and at the time we visited the island this was accessed by a cable car (see this wonderful youtube video – Fort Regent cable car capturing the experience) which both terrified and delighted me.

In the late 70s/early 80s the attractions of the fort included a number of small museums, an aquarium, shell collection, an outdoor adventure playground, a giant snake slide, a hall of mirrors, a small theatre for shows, a swimming pool, extensive rampart walks and some historic stuff from the old fort. It always seemed to be an exciting mix – at least from a child’s perspective! Sadly, the cable car system has gone and there are no attractions to speak of in the fort itself – other than some limited leisure facilities and small businesses. The swimming pool was shut in 2003. To an outsider it feels like a missed opportunity.

A quick google brought up a number of articles that show the future of the fort was still the subject of debate in early 2011. I had to laugh a little at a news report ‘Future of Jersey’s Fort Regent under review’ in which the lack of direct access from the centre of town was identified as a problem and suggested that creating such access, possibly at Snow Hill, could be the answer. That almost perfectly describes the role the cable car served from Snow Hill…

Fog and rain

I had allowed myself to forget the hassles of fog delayed flights and the occasion where our ferry couldn’t dock in St Helier as the tide had gone out (frustratingly we sat outside the port for hours). The last day gave a rather unwelcome reminder of those hassles.

So, all in all, so much for nostalgia!

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