That Was Jersey
Local history for everyone
There were several attempts to create a railway in the Island, but it was the proposals made in the 1860s that led to the construction of the Jersey Railway during 1870. It was opened with great ceremony in September of that year, consisting initially of a line from St Helier to St Aubin, with intermediate stations at West Park, First Tower, Millbrook, Bel Royal, Beaumont and La Haule.
The St Helier station, where offices were added in 1901, became the Tourism Offices at the Weighbridge. At the St Aubin end of the line was a station and hotel, now the St Brelade parish hall. Associated with the railways construction was work on the provision of a sea wall along St Aubin’s Bay.
A further line was built between St Aubin and Corbière, known as the La Moye section, opening in 1884. As this was built at a different gauge to the existing line to St Helier, there were further works required before the two lines could be linked, and a through train from St Helier to Corbière finally ran in 1885. A further improvement was the construction of a tunnel near the St Aubin station.
The early years of the twentieth century saw transport developments which presented a challenge to the railways. The invention of the private motor car, and later the motor omnibus, posed a real threat to the railway services. In 1923 the Jersey Motor Transport Co Ltd started bus services serving all parts of the island. In 1936 the St Aubin station suffered a serious fire, which also destroyed the station roof and most of the carriages. It was this disaster which finally caused the demise of the Jersey railway.
The early success of the St Helier to St Aubin line prompted plans for a railway line between St Helier and Gorey. With States approval, work commenced in 1872, with the terminus at Snow Hill. Intermediate stations were located at George Town, Samarès, Le Hocq, Pontac, La Rocque and Les Marais (later renamed Fauvic), with the eastern terminus at Grouville station, opposite the Wimbledon Hotel.
The summer horse racing and other events on Gorey Common provided a welcome boost to business. Plans were made for the line to link up with France through the steamers running from Gorey and a rail extension was constructed to the harbour. However the local bus service again proved too great a challenge, and the company was liquidated in 1932. Snow Hill station served as the bus terminus from 1935 to 1964. The turntable there was built for turning buses, not trains. It is possible to trace some of the route of this line, both on maps, and also on the ground.
During the German Occupation a number of short stretches of railway were constructed, mostly to assist with the moving of construction materials. The St Helier to Corbière line was rebuilt, as was the Jersey Eastern Railway’s line from St Helier to Gorey. The main additional line built at this time ran from the Ronez quarries through the parishes of St John, St Mary and St Peter to join the Corbière line at Pont Marquet. Apart from this, the additions were limited to a few short spurs connecting quarries to construction sites, and a length of railways along St Ouen’s Bay, from the quarries near L’Etacq south to La Pulente.
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