Call for help in finding architects who shaped the face of St Helier

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THE Société Jersiaise is appealing for help to find architectural drawings and information about the generation of architects who shaped the face of St Helier in the second half of the 20th century.

Its vice-president Stuart Fell, who compiled the Association of Jersey Architects’ exhibition celebrating 60 years of its members’ buildings, wants that exhibition – part of which is on display again at the Arts Centre until the end of the year – to inspire further research into Jersey’s recent architectural history.

Some of the now-retired architects remain in the Island and may have their own archives but others are obstinately elusive figures for those seeking to understand the development of our built environment.

‘We are looking for more information about the architects who worked through the 30 year-period beginning in 1961. It’s also interesting that, for some particularly good buildings which have since been demolished, we know almost nothing about the architect’, he said, citing as an example the Linton Cars showroom at Millbrook designed by Terence Walsh-Smith.

‘There are some intriguing questions about how people became qualified, did very good buildings and then disappeared,’ he added.

Research for the exhibition has also focused attention on some of the hand-drawn architectural images of some of the buildings made by the father and son firm Maclinton which, at one time, would produce architectural perspectives for virtually all the practices in the Island.

‘About 40 of these survive that we know of but we are now asking anyone with information about architects, or about drawings or collections to let us know so that they are recorded and catalogues. This is a plea for people not to throw away drawings or information but to pass them over to us,’ Mr Fell said.

One area of specific interest is the architects working for the States about which – with the exception of Maurice Boots and Graeme Hutchison, well-known respectively for Cyril Le Marquand House and the Jersey Library – little other information has been found.

Mr Fell added: ‘There are some very good buildings here which certainly match higher-quality buildings in the British Isles, and that has been confirmed by external experts like the Twentieth Century Society who have visited Jersey several times.

Next month the Société Jersiaise will establish a new section to sustain interest in Jersey’s architecture from the Victorian period onwards.

Research for the AJA exhibition has revealed much about the association’s history and its relationship with the States.

‘I wouldn’t say that it has fallen away but is perhaps now not quite so co-operative. There is a sense emerging in communities across the world that community spirit is quite important and I think that has enthused many local architects who hadn’t realised that they had this legacy of the very strong involvement of the profession into the future of the Island,’ he said.

The first three decades of buildings chosen for the exhibition can be seen in the Arts Centre’s Berni Gallery until 31 December, while anyone with information about the retired architects, or with architectural drawings may contact Mr Fell at the Société Jersiaise.

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