Riots and retail – The early years of Halkett Place

What’s the history of your area? In this latest look through the records, staff at the Jersey Archive look at a town street dating from the 1820s

What’s the history of your area? In this latest look through the records, staff at the Jersey Archive look at a town street dating from the 1820s

HALKETT Place has been a street for commercial activities for almost 200 years. It has an interesting history, which documents the growth of domestic trade. It has also been the scene of violent civil unrest and was originally a part of the rapid expansion of St Helier after the Napoleonic Wars.

In the late 18th century the area around what would become Halkett Place was still rural. The Richmond map of 1795 shows that the edge of St Helier had not quite extended as far as the current street. The map shows properties facing King Street but no buildings between New Street and Bath Street. In contrast the Le Gros Map of 1834 shows a number of buildings in the Halkett Place area as the relatively small town grew in the early 19th century.

Halkett Place came into existence in the mid 1820s, before this the area was a private road under the name, La Rue de Nouveau Marche. It was officially opened on 6 August 1825 and named after Sir Colin Halkett, the new Lieutenant Governor. It is interesting to note that if opinion had favoured the outgoing Governor we may well have been shopping in Gordon Street.

Jersey Archive is fortunate enough to hold the plan for the original Governors residence dated 1800 which shows the house, stables and gardens together with a meadow. The Governors original residence stood on the corner of Halkett Place and King Street on the plot where until recently Woolworth’s and now New Look stands.

Governor Halkett was the first to move to St Saviour from the Governors residence in Halkett Place. The Governors letter books show official correspondence relating to the move. Halkett complained that the site of what is now Halkett Place was unhealthy and that the gardens flooded in the winter. Finally he was allowed to move to Belmont on St Saviours Hill, a higher, healthier and much drier position.

The original name of the road – La Rue de Nouveau Marche or the Road of the New Market highlights what is one of the main landmarks of Halkett Place today. The Central Market, which partly faces Halkett Place, has been in its present position for over 200 years. In 1800 the States decided that due to constant disruption from noise and congestion on market days the town market should be transferred from its original position in the Royal Square to where it now stands. The market opened on its present site in 1803. The structure was roofed on three sides for goods such as vegetables and dairy produce, with covered butcher’s stalls in the middle. The larger covered market that we now know was not opened until 1882.

Another landmark of the area is Wesley Grove Methodist Church, now called St Helier Methodist Centre, which encloses one end of Halkett Place and effectively defines the end of the street. It was built in 1847 and designed by Philippe Bree. The Churches sheer size is a testament to the power of Methodism in Jersey as it was originally built to hold over 1,000 people and could accommodate up to 30 preachers at one time.

By looking at records at Jersey Archive it has been possible to trace the occupation of 9, Halkett Place from the 1820s to the present day. The property was sold by Louis Poignand to Marie Falle in 1823 but evidence of occupiers shows that Marie probably leased the property to traders in the area. A dispute over a bill for millinery, between Madame de Carteret of St Ouen and draper Jean Nicolle of 9, Halkett Place is early evidence of the use of the property. The original bill dating from 1828 is for £3 7s 11½ d and includes an account for ribbons bows and silks as well as other trimmings. Madame de Carteret had said to send the account to the Deputy Vicomte who flatly refused to pay, and by 1830 Jean Nicolle was respectfully writing to ask her to settle up.

Number 9, Halkett Place, changed tenants many times after Jean Nicolle moved into the premises. In 1841 it was the home and business of an Auctioneer named Henry Moser Millard. Fire insurance registers show that Henry was paying premiums from 1835. In 1851 the premises was occupied by William Ward a grocer. From 1861 to 1881 it was in the possession of Thomas Le Breton a paper-hanger who, by 1891, had passed the business to his son also called Thomas.

In the late 19th century the numbering of the properties in Halkett Place changed. Upper Halkett Place had originally been called Morier Lane and Halkett Place itself began at the property that is now Burtons. The name Morier Lane was no longer used after 1900 and what was 9, Halkett Place became number 19. During the 20th century number 19 was owned by the British and Argentine Meat Company and eventually became Savills Estate Agents.

Obtained

By the 1840s Halkett Place was establishing itself as a prominent street for trade. The 1841 census shows an amazing amount of services that could be obtained from this one area. Among the services available were two chemists, four hairdressers, an optician, a dancing teacher, two artists, several bonnet and dressmakers, a printer, a coach maker and a currier. By 1861 the choice of services available had increased still further with tallow chandlers, tea merchants, music sellers and coin dealers.

Interestingly several women were earning an independent living from the retail trade. Rachel Pallot who lived at number 36 Halkett Place was recorded as a retired shoe manufacturer in the 1861 census. By this date her son Samuel had taken over the expanding business and it employed 22 men and two boys. In the same year Nancy Le Touzel at number 27 ran a confectioners and Fanny Huet at number 7 was recorded as a retired perfumier.

One resident of Halkett Place who prospered, was Chadwick Le Lievre of number 13, which is now part of the premises occupied by New Look. In 1861 Chadwick was a printer and bookseller employing eight men, two boys and one female Emma Stickland. He was also the proprietor of the Constitutionnel Newspaper. By 1871 he was employing 15 people – 10 men, five boys and Emma. Chadwick became a Centenier of St Helier in 1870 as well a printer for the States of Jersey. Many of the official volumes we now hold at the Jersey Archive have his label attached to the back cover. He died unmarried in 1897, in his will he left Emma £500 for being his faithful assistant for more than 30 years. This was a considerable sum of money and the faithful Emma was able to retire to Rouge Bouillon as a lady of independent means.

Halkett Place’s proximity to the Royal Square and States Chamber has also influenced events in the street. In 1837 there was a riot in Halkett Place when disappointed oyster fishermen stormed the street after their petition protesting at the re-election of Lieutenant Spark as Inspector of Oyster Fisheries was rejected in the States by one vote.

The rioters attacked an unfortunate member from St Martin who had voted against them. Reports indicate that officers managed to lock one of the protesters into the French Café in Halkett Place, but he smashed every pane of glass in an effort to escape. The ringleader Elias Aubin was arrested. Prudent shopkeepers in Halkett Place boarded up their premises against damage and a white flag of truce was hung from what is now the Cock and Bottle. Elias Aubin and George Messervy were bailed on the charge of riotous behaviour.

This article only touches on some of the stories of the people who have lived and worked in Halkett Place over the past two centuries. If you would like to find out more about the area the Jersey Archive will be hosting a talk at 10 am on Saturday 15 May as part of the Appleby sponsored What’s Your Street’s Story Project. The Archive is open from 9-1 on Saturday to encourage you to come and find out more about the history and people of your area. If you would like to book your place on the talk please call Jersey Archive on 833300.