St.Aubin’s Village – Gateway to Jersey

Like many other coastal villages, St.Aubin takes its name from the 6thCentury bishop of Angers, who was said to give protection from pirates. This is rather ironic, as Jersey’s highly successful fleet of privateers were based here during the English Civil War.

Before the harbour at St.Helier was built, St.Aubin was the main port for Jersey. It lay sheltered from the south-west gales behind Noirmont Point and the firm sands allowed boats to unload their cargo directly into carts drawn up alongside. The port prospered and the wealthy merchants put up elegant houses on the quayside to be on hand when their ships returned. The long narrow gardens of these houses show how much land has been reclaimed from the sea.

The harbour fell into disuse as a commercial harbour for a number of reasons; after the north arm of the harbour was built, the harbour began to silt up; and the coming of bigger, steam driven, steel ships made St.Helier the first choice.Before 1810, there was no road around the bay from St.Helier, everything was carried across the beach by horse and cart or brought in by boat. In fact the island’s first bus service was a horse and cart that ran across the sands from St.Helier to St.Aubin.
By 1844, a road, La Neuve Route or Victoria Road, finally joined La Haule to St.Aubins. At that time the boat building industry was booming and ships, as large as ‘The Evening Star’ at 800 tons, were often seen on the sea shore. At about the same time a railway company was formed with the idea of running a line out from the town. This eventually came to fruition in 1870, when a train running through the dunes and shipyards arrived at St.Aubin amongst great celebrations.
Today St.Aubin’s harbour is packed with pleasure craft. The merchants, the boat building and the train have vanished but, even without all this, the village is still as vibrant and inviting as ever.

©Arthur Lamy

http://www.arthurlamy.com

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