Posted on: November 10th, 2011 by Andrew Syvret 106 Comments

The pretty aquarium at Havre-des-Pas ~ just a quarter of an hour's walk from the centre of the town, and within a stone's throw of the new swimming pond ~ should not fail to be visited, and is a delightful resort alike from the extreme beauty and tastefulness of the gorgeous sea wonders placed on show, as from the wonderful interest attaching to the greater part of these. In every sense this is a genuine 'Aquarium' and the Director is not exaggerating when he describes it as the “best-arranged and most beautiful establishment in Europe.”


That weird sea-monster, the octopus, so celebrated by Victor Hugo, is a special feature ~ four to five being always on view, restlessly swimming and crawling about their tank. But it is in those wonderful sea-flowers, the many-coloured anemones, that this aquarium is unique. Never has a finer show of these gorgeous creatures been exhibited and one cannot but admire the enterprise that has enabled such a splendid collection to be brought together. The Butterfly Gurnards, with their blue-jewelled fins; the tanks showing the wonderful changes in colouring that can be effected on fishes by changing to the colour of the sand or gravel they live amongst; the shoals of silvery sand-eels, bass and mullet; the bronzed crowds of whiting; the curious crested blennies; the numerous kinds of local sharks and their near relatives the rays and the monk-fish; with giant craw-fishes and lobsters and strange crabs of grotesque form, are among some of the other attractions. All these are beautifully framed in a pretty setting of shrubbery, and here and there about the central floor, little rock ponds and small aquaria give accommodation to such smaller fry as pretty fan-crowned, plume worms, argus-eyed sucker fishes, anemones and the like.

Above the aquarium is a reading-room and museum in which a splendid collection of preserved specimens, many of which are on sale, are exhibited. We may add that on certain days of the week, special evening illumination takes place, and then with brilliant lights playing upon the tanks, the beauty and interest of the scene will be difficult to surpass. Jersey is indeed fortunate in having such a well-managed and interesting Aquarium. [Transcribed from Harry Clark's Guide Book (1894)]

The large building in the image below housed Joseph Sinel and James Hornell's Marine Biological Station and the aformentioned aquarium…

Today, we have no marine laboratory, or aquarium…

But more than enough luxury accommodation. We fully support the Constable of St Helier Simon Crowcroft's effort to put the La Folie site to 'cultural' use. While the buildings are not particularly special, it is hard to imagine an area within the Port of St Helier with greater heritage, sitting as it does twixt the original English and French Harbours.

À bétôt!