Search your attic for hidden history, urge Jersey Heritage

AMY Johnson, the pioneering pilot lost during the Second World War, visited Jersey to lecture to the St Helier’s Church Literary Society in the early 1930s – not a lot of people know that.

Harry Le Feuvre, trainee archivist at Jersey Archive, reading one of the documents relating to Kenneth Le Sueur Picture: JON GUEGAN
Harry Le Feuvre, trainee archivist at Jersey Archive, reading one of the documents relating to Kenneth Le Sueur Picture: JON GUEGAN

But even fewer would be aware of it had the talk not been mentioned in a letter sent by Henry Le Sueur to his son Kenneth Henry which refers to ‘thrilling adventures during Amy Johnson’s flight to Australia’ conveyed by means of ‘lantern slides and film’.

The letter is contained in the collection of Kenneth Henry Le Sueur and Kathleen Le Sueur which comprises hundreds of letters and slides deposited at the Jersey Archive and now catalogued for the benefit of those interested in the Island’s social history.

It has prompted Jersey Heritage to urge Islanders to pay a visit to their attics or cellars to examine material which may still contain undiscovered treasures, as trainee archivist Harry Le Feuvre explained.

‘People often pop in to the Archive after a relative has died, having gone through their archives,’ he said.

‘Generally we would encourage people to do that if they find something that tells us about the history of the Island – that is the important thing. We would always err on the side of having such records here at the Archive so that we can care for them, give them the attention they deserve, and be able to catalogue and record them in a way that does justice to the people whose records they were.

‘If someone is unsure about whether to bring records in, I would say bring them and we can make an assessment at that point. You should never be worried that you shouldn’t, or that the documents might not be worth bringing in.’

The Le Sueur collection, which Mr Le Feuvre began to catalogue last year, is a particularly interesting one, recording the life of an Islander, educated at Victoria College, who went to London to train as an engineer for the Western Telegraph Company and was then posted to South America.

He was to work in Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Barbados and Cape Verde. Engaged to Kathleen in 1927, Kenneth Henry Le Sueur returned to the Island to marry his bride at St Brelade’s Church in 1931 but the period of some 3½ years while he was away resulted in hundreds of letters between the couple and other family members, revealing intriguing aspects of Island life, including the lecture by Amy Johnson to her Jersey audience.

‘He was a very interesting chap. At some point he worked for the Foreign Office and was a diplomat of sorts,’ Mr Le Feuvre said, adding that information about his professional life is sketchy, leading to speculation – fuelled by photographs of a building used by the intelligence service – that he may have been involved in covert work on behalf of his country.

The couple moved to the UK, living in affluent areas of London, before they returned to the Island in 1969 to live on Old Beaumont Hill. Mr Le Sueur’s interest in photography continued and he made slides of the Island until the mid-1970s, six years before his death in 1981.

Mr Le Feuvre said: ‘As an example, he took a photo of two ships in St Helier Harbour because he was interested in ships, trains, cars, aircraft and what have you. He’s taken a photograph of these two ships – which is what the caption says – but it you look carefully up to Mont de la Ville and Fort Regent above you can see that there’s the frame of a dome emerging that hasn’t quite formed yet. And you can see the swimming pool that has just been put up.

‘There are lots of photographs of Fort Regent over the years but I hadn’t seen many of the dome taking shape, so for me that was something that was really quite interesting.’

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