Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Racing Ahead with Changes

1947 was a year when changes began to be decided for the States of Jersey; the old order of Rectors, Jurats would be gone, replaced by 12 extra Deputies and 12 Senators.  In early April we read in the Almanac that "Town Deputies address crowded meeting at Town Hall on Reform." And by 29 April, the -Island voted on Reform proposals taken in the parish halls; 64% register for reform, 36% against... On the 13th May, the States adopted Reform proposals in their entirety. Speed was of the essence, for the changes would need to be in place by the autumn of 1948.
But what other events happened around April and May, also recorded in the Almanac?
On the 26th April, we read of the visit of Bishop of the Windward Islands. Why the Bishop was visiting Jersey is not stated, but it has a curiously exotic ring to it! I didn't even know the Windward Islands had a Bishop.
The Windward Islands are called such because they were more windward to sailing ships arriving in the New World than the Leeward Islands, given that the prevailing trade winds in the West Indies blow east to west. They are Guadeloupe, Dominica, Martinique, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Grenada.
The Anglican Diocese of the Windward Islands is one of eight dioceses within the Province of the West Indies. The current bishop is the The Right Reverend Calvert Leopold Friday, which no doubt will cause some readers to think of Robinson Crusoe.
On 27th April, there was a Parade of Scouts and Cubs at Aquila Road Methodist Church in honour of St. George's Day. The Scouts still parade today, but Aquila Road Methodist Church has been closed, although it remains a listed building.
The same day saw big jewel robberies at St. Brelade where thieves net £2,000 worth of jewels. It's difficult to tell what this would be nowadays, but an inflation calculator puts it at between £60,760.00 and £279,900.00. Even taking the smaller figure, that's quite a sum, and would make large headline in today's Jersey Evening Post.
April 28.-His Excellency inspects St. John Ambulance Brigade.-
Annual general meeting of Chamber of Commerce.
On 28 April "She Wanted a Cream Front Door " at The Playhouse. This was the small theatre of the Island Players, which I remember; it had a sliding door to open up the bar in the interval. Sadly it has been demolished. "She Wanted a Cream Front Door" was comedy, written in 1946, by Arthur Reginald Whatmore (1889-1960), a British actor, playwright and producer of plays, so it was a very modern play for Jersey in 1948.
30 April.-Eighty head of cattle leave the Island, destined for Canada.
Games and cattle shows featured heavily in the start of May. It is interesting to note the legacy of Occupation; the golf club having its first annual dinner since 1939, having ceased to do so during the war years.
May 1.-Muratti : Jersey XI beats Guernsey XI 3--1 in Guernsey.
St. Helier and St. Clement's May shows of cattle held.---
Inter-insular snooker final won by D. P. Dorleans (Jersey).-
Cricket season opens at F.B. Fields on grass wicket.
May 2.- F. T. Drouin beats H. Bertram (750-501) in Island Billiards Championship.-
First annual dinner of Royal Jersey Golf Club since 1939.
May 3-Easy win for Elizabeth College in inter-collegiate athletic meeting.
May 3 Motor ship "Dames des Iles" commissioned by Lady Coutanche. The ship would have its maiden trip round the island in May 10th
May 4.--Concert by Jersey Gleemen given at The Forum.  The Forum has long been demolished, and the Jersey Gleemen don't seem to exist any more either. Although it was a Cinema, the Forum also had an organ (which rose up) and an area which could be used as a stage.
May 7.-Dedication by the Lord Bishop of Winchester at  St. Helier's Parish Church of two silver candlesticks given by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth.
G.R. Balleine notes in his booklet on Jersey Parish Churches that "The candlesticks on the altar were given to the Island by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth (now the Queen Mother) as a thank offering for the Liberation and for the faithful witness of laity and clergy during the German Occupation. In 1963 she attended service then being the first Royal personage to do so since Charles II in 1649."
The central event for Liberation Day in 1947 was an International Road race.
On May 4, we read that Ringwood and Corundum arrive with English racing cars for International Road Race.  The following day, "Some 380 special constables sworn in for Road Race duties." On May 6, continental racing cars arrive from St. Malo, and practice runs begin over the course, watched by a crowd estimated at 10,000
May 7th  saw more practice runs in preparation for Road Race. There was also a pre-race Vin d'honneur for racing drivers held at West Park Pavilion!
The circuit for the drivers was from West Park to Bel Royal along Victoria Avenue, only a single-carriage road in those days, returning via St Aubin's Road, a total of 3.2 miles.
Liberation Day, May 8th, saw "The International Road Race an outstanding success : many world famous drivers compete, including Prince Bira,  R. Mays, Peter Whitehead.The event wa s won by R. Parnell (Maseratti), with L. Chiron (Maseratti) second. and R. Mays  third : Ball held at West Park Pavilion and fireworks display given show in the evening "
Here's a few biographical snippets from Wikipedia on the drivers mentioned above. It shows that the event attracted big names in motor sports at the time, and indeed, it would continue in Jersey until 1952.
"Reginald Parnell (2 July 1911 - 7 January 1964)[1] was a racing driver and team manager from Derby, England. He participated in seven Formula One World Championship Grands Prix, achieving one podium, and scoring a total of nine championship points."
"Louis Alexandre Chiron (born 3 August 1899 in Monte Carlo, Monaco - died there on 22 June 1979) was a Grand Prix driver."
"Prince Birabongse Bhanudej Bhanubandh (born 15 July 1914 in Bangkok, Thailand; died 23 December 1985 in Barons Court Station, London), better known as Prince Bira of Siam (now Thailand) or by his nom de course B. Bira, was the only Thai racecar driver to race in Formula One."
"Peter Whitehead (12 November 1914, Menston - 21 September 1958, Lasalle, France) was a British racing driver from England. Whitehead was able to fund his racing largely through the family wealth, gained from the wool industry. fter World War II he participated in 12 World Championship Grands Prix, debuting on 2 July 1950."
"Raymond Mays CBE (1 August 1899 - 6 January 1980) was an auto racing driver and entrepreneur from Bourne, Lincolnshire, England. Mays was one of the principal people behind the development of the motor racing stables of English Racing Automobiles (ERA) and British Racing Motors (BRM). The workshops of each firm were established, in turn, behind his house in Bourne, in a building known as The Maltings. His lifelong ambition was to see his country succeed at the top level of international motor sport"
More details of the races and photos can be seen on the Island Wiki site at:
and I would refer the interested reader there.
As cars became progressively faster, it was no longer viable to hold races in Jersey. The speed of modern-day racing cars is considerable in excess of that of 1947.

1 comment:

Deputy Trevor Pitman said...

Interesting piece, Tony.

Of course a slight problem with 'reform' being 'rejected' after the war was that the Evening Post was frantically doing all they could to scupper it.

Documents we have show the JDM were prevented from publicising their manifesto - even as a paid advert - and other ideas which were theirs were lifted by the phoney Jersey Progresive Party and allowed to be passed of as their own by the same paper.

Why, if one reads Roy Le Herriser's paper we even learn how the Evening Post editor was in at the very start of the JPP scam. But did not actually officially 'join' to maintain some appearance of 'independence'.

How little has changed...