La Collette

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La Collette

For a long time St Helier did not have a proper harbour. Although there was a jetty on the west side of Mont de la Ville, in the area where today's South Pier stands, it was little used, being in such a state of disrepair that it offered more danger than protection from the elements. The other side of the hill at La Collette offered much greater protection from the prevailing westerly winds, and a small jetty there seems to have served as the town's principal harbour, at least until a better pier was built at St Aubin, adjoining the fort. There are records in the 16th century and 17th centuries of various comings and goings at Havre des Pas, although the reefs which stretched from close inshore well out to sea would have prevented vessels of any size using the facility, and it is perhaps likely that small boats would have been sent inshore to collect and disembark passengers and load and unload limited amounts of cargo. Neither the date this picture was drawn, nor the era it depicts are known, but it is supposed to show a jetty at La Collette. This presents something of a problem, however, because maps of the time show an l-shaped jetty, with south and east arms, facing inwards from the point of La Collette, which would mean that there was no view of Elizabeth Castle. Perhaps a degree of artistic licence has been used, perhaps this is not La Collette at all; either way, it is a superb image of sea travel 400 or more years ago.

An Edwardian family pauses for a photograph on La Collette promenade
The structure behind the rocks is the men's diving board. In the Victorian era men's and women's bathing sites were separated. The men swam at La Collette and the women had changing rooms and a bathing area at Havre des Pas. Even when the sea water pool was built at Havre des Pas in the 1890s it was at first only for use by women

La Collette is the southernmost point of the town of St Helier, stretching from the Harbour around to Havre des Pas. It was once an unspoilt coastal walk, with the road passing above it along Mount Bingham, but in post-war years a new power station was built, followed by a tanker berth and fuel farm on reclaimed land, and then the coastline was extended still further with a large land reclamation scheme, which now contains the island's refuse incinerator.

In the mid-19th century the States embarked on an ambitious project to build a large deep-water harbour with an arm stretching out from La Collette towards Elizabeth Castle, which would meet another arm from the castle. The latter was built and survives to this day, but as work progressed on the three-quarter mile long pier from La Collette it was breached in severe storms in the winters of 1874, 1875 and 1876 and the project was abandoned.

A contemporary report of a failed harbour development

The La Collette land reclamation scheme of the 1970s in pictures

La Collette, a pictorial timeline

La Collette Gardens

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Green Street slipway between Havre des Pas and La Collette

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The promenade before it was levelled and surfaced. The steps and platform in the foreground were formerly a diving place for men
The diving stages at La Collette in 1910 - separate facilities for ladies and gentlemen
1945, and the German railway line remains on the seaside walk
Drone photograph by Paul Lakeman. Visit his Facebook group for a large selection of photographs looking down on Jersey's coasts. Photographs are available in return for a contribution to Jersey Hospice

20th and 21st century land reclamation

1977, and the power station has been built, but major land reclamation has yet to start
The latest reclamation area, almost filled
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