On the beach, close to St Helier is West Park Pool or the Victoria Marine Lake, which was originally opened in 1897 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. It is one of the largest Marine Lakes in the UK and up until the 1980’s it was the focus for a lot of activity in this area of St Helier. In 1989 I had the concession for kayaks on the pool and used probably the first type of sit on tops to be brought into the Island.
It gradually fell into disrepair, but following a programme of fund raising and support from the Parish of St Helier the pool was officially re-opened to the public on the 18th July 2014. During the summer months there is the opportunity to rent sit on tops, stand up paddleboards or just to enjoy swimming in the pool. It is unlikely though, that there will be many days in the summer, when the water will be as smooth as it was when this photograph was taken.
Sadly the project hasn’t proved to be as successful as hoped because of the problem of sea lettuce growing within St Aubin’s Bay during the summer months. It drifts onto he edge of the water resulting in a very unpleasant green mess on the beach. Far from ideal and certainly discouraging people from going down to the beach for a relaxing afternoon with the opportunity to take part in some watersports.
A rather bleak day but this interesting feature towers above the ramparts at Fort Regent. It is thought that the first signal station was built here, in 1708, to warn the Islanders of a possible invasion. Eventually there were 10 built around the Island and it was possible to communicate with the other islands via the one at Grosnez. In the past information was indicated about commercial ferries, naval ships etc. After a huge storm in 1859 Admiral Fitzroy introduced a number of coastal stations which sent their weather data to London and in 1861 he introduced the storm cone. A triangle to be hoisted when winds of Force 8 and above are predicted. In Jersey the ball was introduced in about 1971 and it is hoisted when of Force 6 are expected. The apex of the cone indicates the wind direction, so here it is pointing up so strong winds from the north are indicated. Although I can state at the time it was blowing from the south west.
There are other flags which are raised at certain times, for example the T Flag.
As far as I am aware it is the only signal station left in operation and as a kayaker it is always interesting to look up when heading through town as it gives a very quick indication of possible conditions out at sea.
West Park Pool is the colloquial name for the Victoria Marine Lake, located on the sands at West Park. Constructed in 1897, it was officially opened on the 9th June that year, with the most of the great and the good of Jersey on the beach that day. At the time it was probably the largest such pool in the British Isles.
Over the next 100 years the lake was used by thousands of visitors and residents for a variety of watersports. In the late 1980’s I had a personal interest in the pool as I had the concession from Jersey Tourism to operate in the pool and rented out what were probably the first sit on top kayaks to be seen in Jersey.
From the 1990’s onwards the condition of the pool started to deteriorate, very little, if any, maintenance was undertaken and eventually the gates were left open so that instead of water being retained within the walls the water drained out in sync with the falling tide.
What we were left with was a crumbling Victorian wall on the beach. Fortunately a group of locals, less that two years ago, had the vision to restore the Jubilee Marine Lake. Finance was secured and restoration undertaken.
Today, quietly and without any public announcement it opened for activities to begin. There is an official opening at the end of next week but it is good to see it up and running and will hopefully provide a valuable resource for the residents of St Helier and those who live further afield.
The pool with Elizabeth Castle behind
Looking west across the pool towards Noirmont.
Sit on tops, stand up paddleboards and pedalos all for rental
The plan is to have sailing on the pool in the not too distant future.