Posted on: December 8th, 2011 by Andrew Syvret No Comments

So far it’s been gales all round. Today saw a gust of 165mph (143.4kts) recorded atop Cairngorm Summit in Scotland, not far off the all time U.K. wind speed record set there on 20 March 1986 at 173mph (150.33kts). Interesting research into the present violent storm by the Met Office.

Nothing near that in the Channel Islands, nonetheless with full moon tomorrow, in this weather even modest spring tides mean most beaches are non-existent at high water. A curlew (Numenius arquata), or courlis in French. Europe’s largest wader, sheltering on grazing land in St Peter…

A marsh harrier (Circus aeruginosus), over St Ouen’s Bay, with La Rocco Tower and La Corbière behind. Twenty seven of these magnificent birds, the largest of the harriers, were recorded coming into roost at St Ouen’s Pond one evening this autumn. Photograph taken from La Rue de la Campagne.

La Rocco Tower, one of the Island’s ‘newest’ and more correctly known as Gordon’s Tower, has a fascinating history. An extract from Peter Manton’s (1995) Jersey Weather and Tides reads as follows: 

“Built between 1796 and 1801 as part of the defences against Napoleon. Before the war the States let the tower out to Lady Houston, an eccentric who had a yacht with the words “Wake up England” in huge letters which were illuminated at night when anchored in the Solent. She was often seen wandering about the deck in pink pyjamas, a scandal in those days. One day a man called on her in Jersey and asked for £100,000. He left with a flea in his ear. The next day her chauffeur delivered a cheque for the full amount. It was not even in an envelope. The man R.J. Mitchell, went on to develop the Spitfire, which, arguably, saved Britain and the Free World.”

I was once told that Mitchell was in a queue to leave the Island when the cheque arrived. There is also mention of this story in former Bailiff Sir Peter Crill’s autobiography. La Rocco Tower will be available to rent from Jersey Heritage in 2012.



In other news… We are delighted that the Constable of St Helier was successful in his bid to defer decision time on the La Folie site, the subject of an earlier blog: HERITAGE. It would be great to see the beginnings of a long overdue ‘Sinel renaissance’ take root between the English and French Harbours. More on this idea in a future post.

Lastly, we’ve begun to play with moving pictures: Sea Jersey YouTube Channel ~ c’est parti!