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Ex-Senator calls for prison granite to become memorial

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GRANITE from the impressive façade of the Island’s old prison should be used in a memorial to Islanders to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Liberation, a former politician has said.

Former States Member Terry Le Main

Terry Le Main previously suggested that the stones, which have been in storage since Newgate Street Prison was demolished in 1975 to make way for the Gwyneth Huelin Wing extension at the General Hospital, could be re-erected as a gateway to St Helier to commemorate the centenary of the Great War.

However, that idea came to nothing and the granite, each stone numbered so it could rise again, lies in a field near the Airport where it is visible on Google Earth.

In February 2016, Mr Le Main lobbied the then Infrastructure Minister, Deputy Eddie Noel, and the two men resolved to find a new use for the façade, with Deputy Noel saying he wanted to find a solution within his term. Six months after Mr Noel left the States, Mr Le Main is back on the case.

‘I am terribly disappointed, as I feel that we could have used the prison granite by putting it into a fitting memorial for the 100th anniversary of the First World War because the arch we have got at the Weighbridge is a disgrace,’ he said.

‘I feel very strongly now, as someone who lived through the Occupation, that it should become a monument to the people of Jersey who suffered and died during the Occupation. I would like to see a magnificent arch, a Liberation arch.

‘If they want someone to take on the job of finding a use for the prison granite, then I am willing to take it on.’

The old prison was built in 1812. Although it was condemned by the social reformer Elizabeth Fry in the 1830s, it was not replaced until La Moye Prison opened in 1975.

Plans to recycle the façade, which was 40 metres wide and five metres high, have included a commercial shopping centre to be built in Gorey Village, the Central Library and a new civic centre or public art gallery.

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Although Infrastructure looked at finding a use for it during Mr Noel’s time as minister – such as incorporating it into the Jersey International Finance Centre – it was not a priority project.

The director of capital projects at Infrastructure, Chris Sampson, said finding a use for the granite was still on the agenda – and that could be as a memorial to mark the 75th anniversary of the Liberation.

‘We have not found a use for it in a public building up to now but we continue to look at it when future public buildings are to be constructed,’ he said.

‘The prison granite is considered for all public projects and the next big project is the merging of Liberation Square and Weighbridge Place for Liberation 75.’

Infrastructure was also open to suggestions from private developers, he added, and ideas to use parts of the colonnade design for the kind of memorial being suggested by Mr Le Main.

Paula Thelwell

By Paula Thelwell
author

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