Monday, 16 April 2012

Tourism Decline - Lost Attractions

Look at these "Major Places of Tourism Interest" from the 1994 Perry's Guide and be amazed how many have gone since!

Now take a look at the Tourist Attractions section of the yellow pages - a pitifully small number of entries!

Looking through the old map gave me a nostalgia trip, and although I haven't a hope of documenting the hundreds of changes, I took a trip up to the North-West to show just a few of the changes....

The ruins of Plemont Holiday Camp are the best example of Jersey's tourism decay.

Thankfully the eyesore is only visible for a short stretch of main road, or to cliff path walkers or Plemont beachgoers.

.. to get there, go past what used to be a corner shop and Plemont Candlecraft.

Even the pub La Forge has gone - this is all that remains.

Also up North, at Greve de Lecq the hotel above the tower is to become appartments, there's only 1 cafe on the pier where 2 used to compete, a bar has vanished near the barracks, and of course...

.. there are houses where Caesar's Palace used to be.

Taking a quick diversion eastwards but staying coastal - back in the 1980s you could follow a path down the cliffside and visit Wolf's Caves, with a bar/restaurant at the top to help you to recover afterwards. The cliff path is now overgrown and barriered off, and the building and car park here? Now a building site. For houses. Astonishingly some road signs still point the tourists to here, where they'll find nothing of interest! It's on a current tourist map too, along with a couple of other closed attractions :)

Back in St.Ouen, Bleu Soleil camping ...

.. has a kind of closed look to it. (UPDATE 2013 - it has re-opened under new management as Daisy Cottage Campsite)

St. Brelade's Camp Site may have become Reg's Garden (website), but time is limited with that one too, as he's giving up.

And the Shell Garden isn't opening this year, due to illness.

"Wayside Crafts" (later the Snow Goose) at St.Ouen's Village - now more houses.

Bouchet Pottery and Agateware in the village...

.. boarded up.

St.Peter's Bunker? Just a small hint of it remains - and the car museum next to it is just a furniture shop now.

The Fantastic Tropical Gardens made for a good summer day out, but they vanished some years ago.

Nothing left of the Butterfly Farm and its tea room. Or the tea room at Anne Port/Jeffrey's Leap.

And afternoon tea at the Sylvania Guest House won't refresh you on the walk from Bel Royal to St.Aubin - it's a building site too.

And as for Jersey Pottery, there's a building site barrier here now...

.. so you won't be seeing this again...

.. or going for a drive-in BBQ.

Oops, I got side-tracked. Back to the west... and forget about the shop, aviary, sand-sculptures and cafe at Sunset Nursery - it's closed and that'll be more housing too.

L'Etacq makes for a great illustration of the decline. You could have a great weekend break here, on just 2 pages of the 58 page map...

The Bal Tabarin, later Adrian's, The Ranch, finally a Diamond place along the lines of the Gold and Pearl places - now returned to nature (with a wasted chance for a safe small gyratory system rather than risk the fun of meeting a coach in the narrow lane!)

You can't drive along the old pathways at Les Landes any more, you vill stick to ze one track!

The Lobster Pot hotel and restaurant has gone. Housing.

The old hotel / restaurant (Marina?) is self-catering.

The Relais pub is more... you've guessed.. housing.

.. and although the Milano went years ago, at least it provided a useful car park. Until they recently tried to chain it off!

The map shows L'Etacq Woodcraft, Pottery, Leatherland - but there's housing now in the old quarry, and I'm not sure Treasures of the Earth is still going to open any more. The public carpark is now tarmac goodness instead of gravel, but there's no reason for an ice-cream van these days.

The Goldsmiths replaced the old New Med (revolving bar etc) and then became Jersey Pearl (est. 1985) after a move from St.John's village - the Goldsmiths taking over Retreat Farm. Over the road we have the Channel Islands Military Museum in a bunker which is moderately recent, but the Chateau is a tatty relic now. It was a Shopping Experience but that's shut up shop, and there's currently just an Art place where the incredible Microworld once was.
Winston's restaurant is also just a memory, at what's now a scout center.

Once upon a time there was a filling station here, and a chance to buy a drink or ice-cream on a sweltering summer walk when the others nearby seemed a long way off...

.. and that's presently becoming a whole new house. The eco homes nearby replaced the old bar Sable d'Or.

Also on these 2 map pages, the Shire Horse Farm has gone.

And the Battle of Flowers Museum - I believe she said she was giving up, but maybe she's giving it one more season. Have a look before it's gone - they don't get coachloads of tourists any more so be quick!
(UPDATE 2013 - Sadly the owner passed away later in 2012, so count this as a past attraction too)

The bay's "interpretation centre" used to give us a chance to look around Kempt Martello Tower, but that's closed now, like the short-lived (too little too late) Discovery Pier exhibit at the end of Gorey Pier.

What else are we missing? I could reminisce about Belle Vue Pleasure Park, or even that the Airport used to be a friendly place to visit. The parking wasn't such a rip-off, there was a restaurant above Arrivals, and open viewing decks to watch the planes. Even when the new Departures first arrived, it was open to all for some shopping, a cafe, kids play area, etc. All gone or closed off to checked-in passengers only.

And it used to be one of the busiest airports in the world, with movements every few minutes. Nowadays the planespotters can get bored waiting for something to happen, ironically now that the place is more expensively over-developed than it ever was! Yes, raise the fees, that'll encourage visitors... like all the other ways Jersey priced itself out of the market.

Portelet could have a blog entry of its own, with all the hotels, holiday village, beach cafe and Janvrin's Farm all gone. See for the latest disgrace.

Fort Regent warrants a website of its own for memories, these days what's left in use is almost totally for sport, leaving gardens unloved and areas of past amusements deserted. Visitors are still recommended to pay a visit on a windless day to enjoy the views from the ramparts and to make sense of what remains visible of the impressive Napoleonic Fort - but that seems to play second fiddle to the money grabbing developers who would rather see it all become luxury housing (as usual), a hotel, casino, etc. See it while you can... :)

Luckily we still have other Forts and Castles to enjoy, because it's not the done thing to build on those. Visitors can enjoy the excellent day out to Elizabeth Castle (which can still be seen from at least half of the bay now) or the easier to reach one at Gorey, also impressive. Jersey Heritage also run the NT(J)'s Hamptonne (open this year from June to Sept) as a country farm museum, and the excellent La Hougue Bie dolmen / museum, in addition to the Pier Road Museum and Art Gallery, and Maritime Museum and Occupation Tapestry Gallery. A private enterprise runs The Pallot Steam, Motor & General Museum (website) which is also worth a look if that appeals.

And there's still the spectacularly beautiful Zoo (called a "Durrell" now), but even they have ominously warned of the possibility of closing if their visitor numbers dwindle further, which really would be the final nail in the coffin.

There's the Living Legend (while it's still open - they have mentioned possible closure so see it while you can) where the Strawberry Farm once stood, providing an 'experience' show, shopping, Crazy Golf, Go-Karting, cafe, etc. (website).

The Amaizin Maze is actually a new adventure park since I was little - well done them - and the Golf Course and Country Club at Les Mielles has branched out into Segways, laser clay pigeon shooting, bungee trampolines, mini golf and more to amuse the kids in their 'Fun Zone'. Also, amongst many sports at Les Ormes there's now a Creepy Valley adventure centre to give the kids a good time. Or you can go bowling if it's raining, hardly a unique attraction to Jersey but worth having anyway.

Some attractions that were around in 1994 are still going. The Jersey War Tunnels (website) once known as the Underground Hospital. There's La Mare Wine Estate (website), and the Orchid Foundation (website) - not exactly mass-appeal IMHO, even if relatively unique to Jersey in their own way. There are those brown Tourist Attraction roadsigns pointing to Catherine Best's Jewellery at the old Windmill (St. Ouen) - new since the 1994 guide - but surely it's just a shop? If it was in town amongst everything else, how many would bother to venture inside? I also have trouble regarding Samares Manor Gardens (website) and Jersey Lavender (shop and cafe) (website) as must-see Jersey attractions, whatever their undoubted charms.

I also have mixed opinions on the glorified shopping experience of the Goldsmith's Lion Park (website) which replaced the Retreat Farm glasshouses visit - but at least it opened up the gardens to us.
(UPDATE 2013 - the Lion Park closed early this year too)

But that's about it - if you're lucky you might catch a National Trust property open (like Quetivel Mill, Grève de Lecq Barracks or the newly refurbished town house), or maybe some German bunkers opened up for viewing by the CIOS.

I still think it's all a big step down from what we used to have. All the attractions and amenities go one by one and we hardly notice - but when you actually stop and look back you realise what we've lost.

Hotels, restaurants and nightclubs too numerous to mention, all gone. The Esplanade is a prime example of somewhere that would amaze a visitor who last came here before the 1990s. It's almost unrecognisable all the way from the Pav / Inn on the Park (now apartments) to the Weighbridge, including numerous missing hotels (several in Gloucester Street too - Sandringham and Chelsea) and nightclubs (Thackery's, Swanson's), restaurants (Broadway), Funland, etc.

Obviously St.Helier, as a living town, naturally changes over time - but the Esplanade's changes are just incredible, quite apart from the land reclamation. Also Colomberie is just a shadow of its former self, killed off by mad traffic diversions and hotel closures.

Like a walk in scenic Queen's Valley before it was flooded, you'd also be hard pressed to visit Gorey's Secret Garden, the Harvest Barn in Vallee Des Vaux, St.Clement's Priory Inn, La Moye bar, Zanzibar in St. Brelade's Bay, La Folie pub, The Argilston at Mont Nicolle, Bistros at La Rocque and Rozel (Frere), Bistro Centrale, Apple Cottage at Rozel, Ramsbottom's, The Drive-In, Central Park...  and so many hotels lost (see later blog posting for hundreds!)
Likewise there are so many pubs and corner shops now lost to the mists of time. And cinemas.
Having done some web-searching for missing places I'd forgotten about, I'll admit I got some of the above from the "Missing memories" thread at this Jersey Forum - perhaps if you have any comments and don't fancy making them here, you could try there.

It's sad to see just how much we've lost, as we've lost focus on Tourism and pursued Finance to the detriment of nearly all else. It used to be so much nicer to live here. There was indeed a buzz to the place, tourists all around town in the evenings, which is all gone now. It's hard to believe just how much it has changed, and difficult to explain to anyone who wasn't here.

So, as Jersey continues to slowly turn itself into one giant sprawling luxury housing estate with gated enclaves to keep out the wrong riff-raff sorts from the other half of the divided community torn by mass unemployment, what do we have left to offer?

Countryside with scenic lanes, all twee and micro-managed, but not particularly different to anything the average Brit or European would be familiar with from the nicer parts of their own countries - save for the odd granite farmhouse. Jersey cows if you can find what's left of the herd.

A town also micro-managed to an absurd degree that makes motorists feel unwelcome, with the same shops that Brits will be familiar with, just in a different arrangement.

A range of old military installations for the history buffs to explore - mostly likely to appeal only to one half of the average couple and not so much to kids, apart from the two castles that usually appeal to all.

A pleasant (sometimes stunning) coastline, with great peaceful walks along the north coast and fascinating diversions such as Devil's Hole. But it's increasingly being blighted by the spreading pox of intrusive luxury housing. And along the avenue you have to pay to park for the beach!

Maybe it's not so bad, there's still plenty to do - but not as much as we used to have :(

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

More street art from GF

It's been a while since Street Art from GF last aroused my interest, some of the stickers still remain around St.Helier and beyond, but almost all of the board paintings have been removed including one of the last hangers-on down at the roundabout near Albert Pier (gone about a month ago). One very faded painting remains near People's Park (update - it did for another week or two, then the door it was on got repainted and the artwork was removed!)

It appears that he's placing some simple sketches on cardboard around the town again.

I noticed this one first (24th Mar), I didn't recognise the style but I was intrigued enough to take a snap in case it was the start of another wave of artworks to get me keeping my eyes peeled...

Another one was placed on a JT cabinet that GF had used before, using the same adhesive technique, but it had gone by the time I came back with any kind of camera.

Thanks to Tom for snapping this one at the Waterfront, we can see that the angular question mark and marker pen strokes match the old GF style, and the baggy eyelids are the same as in some of his paintings on Facebook.

.. closer.

I found this one today (Mon 2nd Apr)...

(Thanks Tom for the photo)

.. oh, and a cluster of 9 there too! (One missing on Tuesday)

(again Thanks to Tom)

And Thanks to my other Roving Reporter, we can see this one at Liberation Square.

Found near the Town Church, Tues 3rd April.

I still enjoy seeing creative works around the place - I hope you're keeping well Mr F, and that wise buyers are giving you some income :)