Beresford Street

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Beresford Street


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Looking east from the junction with Halkett Place. The Market is on the right


Beresford Street runs from Halkett Place to Bath Street, passing the back of the Market. It was an important development of the central part of the town and has always been one of the principal shopping streets

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Name choice

Beresford Street, one of the town's most important roads, was named after William Carr Beresford who, although he was the island's longest-serving Governor, in office for 34 years from 1820-1854, had little or nothing to do with the island's administration, and may never have visited Jersey.

Perhaps that was why he was the last Governor, because having delegated responsibility for being the Crown's representative throughout his term of office to a succession of seven Lieut-Governors, so that he could continue his Army career, it may well have been thought by the British Government that this arrangement could continue without the need for another Governor with only nominal authority. It is likely that the Lieut-Governors during Beresford's lenghty tenure were not his own choices, but direct Government appointments.

The first mention of the street's name is in 1822, at about the time that the street which connects it with the Royal Square and King Street in the town's centre, was named after Sir Colin Halkett, recently appointed Beresford's Lieut-Governor. This choice is believed not necessarily to have been intended as an honour for the new resident crown representative, but as an ironic reference to his refusal to live in the then Government House on the corner of King Street and Market Street, the thoroughfare which took his name.

Perhaps it was thought that, if the Lieut-Governor's arrival was being marked in this way, the adjoining street should be named after his boss.

Whatever the reasons behind the States' choice of names for these streets, which were yet to be fully developed, they have been maintained to this day.

Markets

The States decided in 1800 that it was time to move the island's main market out of the Royal Square and a new market was constructed some distance to the north on the corner of what became Halkett Place and Beresford Street, opening in 1807. It was to last until replaced with a new structure on the same site in 1881.

But if any buildings were constructed in the surrounding area in the first years of the 19th century, they have not survived and their location is unknown. They would not have been commercial premises, but possibly what would then have been classed as 'country houses' on the meadows to the north of the town centre. What became Beresford Street was a private road before it was given its name. The earliest surviving properties in the street probably had their origins no earlier than the 1840s, and most date from closer to the time when the market was redeveloped.

Beresford Street is very much in the hub of market activity. Not only does the main central market make its corner with Halkett Place, but there is an entrance to today's fish market, which runs through to Minden Place. There were previously openings on Cattle Street, between Beresford Street and Minden Place, to a larger fish market and a toy market, and the town's last cattle market was in Minden Place, the site subsequently redeveloped as a multi-storey car park.

Farmers and fishermen coming to town for these markets were a source of important trade for shops which became established along Beresford Street.

Built in 1880 as the business expanded after six years, this was the headquarters of the Orviss grocery 'empire'

Property numbers

The street has an unusual numbering pattern. The properties on the north side of the street bear odd numbers from 1 to 27, but Nos 2 and 4 are also included. There is no No 6 now, but it certainly did exist, although its exact location is something of a mystery. It occurs at various times in 19th century records, which tend to conflict and suggest that the number may have been used, presumably at different times, on both sides of the street.

A Jersey Heritage presentation on the Victoria Club in 2022 was inconclusive about where No 6 might have been located. It was stated that 'the existing Victoria Club building was constructed in the 1890s but the club and an earlier building – number 6 - date back to the beginning of the 19th century'.

The presentation indicated that the first inhabitant of 6 Beresford Street was Charles Fixott, a surgeon, who purchased land to the west of the new market from the Public of the Island in 1815. He went on to build a house on the site and records show that it was insured in 1826. But land to the west of what was then a relatively new market would not have been adjacent to No 8. Possibly the land Charles Fixott acquired was to the east of the market.

The presenter went on to say that in 1845, Charles Fixott sold No 6 to Josue Laverty and by 1855 the Victoria Club was a going concern. Charles Benest is said to have bought Nos 6 and 8 in 1870 and retained ownership until the early 1890s. In 1893 he sold the Victoria Club to Colonel Philip Robin who financed the construction of a new club which is still standing. The original club building was demolished in 1893 and on 7 February 1894 the foundation stone was laid for the new building.

But this account is in direct conflict with census returns and almanac listings for No 6, which suggest that it cannot possibly have been the site of the original Victoria Club. John Bisson was trading there when he advertised his cabinet making business in 1840, before the first census and almanac listings.

The 1851 census shows Charles Le Feuvre, a bookseller and binder employing three men and three boys, living there with his wife Mary, two daughters and a son, and one servant. This is likely to be the same Charles who founded the Beresford Library at No 18 later in the 1850s. No 6 is not mentioned in the 1861 census but in 1871 Francois Quesnel (38), a chemist from France; wife Louisa and three daughters, were living there. Mr Quesnel's business was taken over by M Hermety, who is shown in Almanac listings to have been in business at No 6 at least from 1874 to 1886. Census returns for stewards and other staff at the Victoria Club all relate to No 8.

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So where was No 6? An 1852 advert for Miss Masters' fancy needlework repository indicates that she was in business there and her premises were described as 'nearly opposite the market gates'. That would place it on the north side of the street between Nos 5 and 7, which are now on opposite corners of the junction with Cattle Street. No 6 can not have been next to No 5 on the west side of the junction, because an advertisement in 1862, offering No 5 for sale, describes it as making the corner. So perhaps No 6 was opposite, next to No 7, a very narrow building, and disappeared when it was widened. This is supported by the fact that No 5 is an Edwardian building, with a much narrower frontage on Beresford Street than the old building it replaced. The junction certainly appears much narrower in photographs taken in the the 19th century than it is today. So perhaps the road widening took part of No 5 and all of No 6.

After the Cattle Street junction the numbering sequence on the north side of the street continues with just odd numbers to No 27, which makes the corner with Bath Street. On the south side, after the Victoria Club, all properties have even numbers, continuing to No 26 on the Bath Street corner.

Our tentative conclusion is that after the construction of the first market on the corner of Halkett Place and Beresford Street, the numbers 2, 4 and 6 were allocated to properties on the north side of the street, and it was one of these that Charles Fixott purchased. The Victoria Club would have been the first property on the other side of the street after the market, always numbered 8.

Grocers

Over the decades in the 19th century and throughout the 20th, town residents and those from the country parishes would visit Beresford Street to do their grocery shopping. The street became the centre of a battle for supremacy between the two main grocery companies of the 20th century - Le Riches and Orviss. Their rivalry had its origins in the years either side of the turn of the 19th century.

The official history of Le Riches - The Le Riches Story: 175 Years of Progress by Kenneth Renault, suggests that Le Riches were the first to establish in the street. He wrote that Le Riches were trading at No 1 from the early 1890s and Orviss did not arrive until the early 1900s, having first become established in Queen Street. This is not supported by Almanac directory listings, which show that John William Orviss' business was founded at No 16 in 1874, and Le Riches did not open at No 1 until the second half of the 1890s.

Although Le Riches would ultimately acquire the Orviss business, it was the latter which expanded dramatically in Beresford Street, Halkett Street and Queen Street in the early years of the 20th century. But by 1905, Le Riches had acquired Nos 1, 2 and 3 Beresford Street and erected a new building, which was remarkably similar to the Orviss headquarters at No 16. When Orviss acquired No 18 and embarked on a rebuild in 1930, Le Riche started again with another new building at Nos 1-3.

The two retail 'giants' were by no means the only grocers to trade in Beresford Street. The largest throughout the second half of the 19th century was Charles Asplet, whose business at No 17, also known as Beresford House, was employing 15 staff by 1851 and 20 ten years later. This business closed at some point during the 1890s and the premises were taken over by Orviss, who were then trading on both sides of the street.

The peak years for grocers in Beresford Street were from 1860 to 1890. The 1861 census shows John Noel at No 10, having taken over from grocer and tea dealer Jane Le Couteur. Next door at No 12 was Henry Le Vavasseur dit Durell. The grocery business was concentrated at the western end of the street, because opposite could be found Elias Falle at No 11, Francis John Durell at No 15 and Asplet at No 17. All these businesses were still trading in 1871. Elias Falle had been joined by his brother Philip.

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At the eastern end of the street Francis Le Couteur and his sister Louise were running their grocery at No 22, and J Anslow opened across the road at No 25 by 1875.

The establishment of the Orviss business in 1874 seems to have diminished the competition, because in 1881 and 1891 Nos 10 and 12 were empty, and only the Falle brothers and Charles Asplet remained in business. By 1901, the only competition for Le Riche and Orviss was George Downer, who had taken over the Falles; business at No 11. In due course this would become the Dupre family's fish shop, famously run in the second half of the 20th century by politician Clarence Dupre.

Other trades

Follow the links below to our individual property histories, which show what a wide range of commercial activities have been operating in the street over the years.

Among the most prominent were the Beresford Library, founded by Charles Le Feuvre at No 18, and taken over by Labey and Blampied in the early 1890s, before they sold out to the expanding Orviss. Charles Le Feuvre was a bookbinder, stationer and printer before meeting the 19th century public demand for access to books - to be read on the premises or taken home.

Unsurprisingly the street has been home to wine and spirits merchants, drapers and tailors, milliners, boot and shoe makers, tobacconists, clock and watchmakers, confectioners, ironmongers, pharmacies, musicians and suppliers of their instruments, and also to artists and photographers.

Apart from the continuing presence of the Victoria Club, the hospitality sector has not featured prominently in the life of the street since the early 19th century. There was probably a hotel at No 9 in the 1880s, and the Beresford Cafe was at No 14 for many years, but the only evidence we have found of inns and public houses was in 1833, when the Beresford Inn was managed by a Mr Renouf; Friends, by a Mr de Gruchy, Navy and Friends, at No 11, by a Mr Gallichan; and Nelson's Arms, by a Mr Poingdestre.

Country trade was catered for by several seed merchants, guano (fertiliser) suppliers, saddlers and harness makers, rope makers and corn merchants. And there were livery stables at No 12 in the middle of the 19th century.

Individual property histories

Nos 1-3 No 4 No 5 No 7 No 8 No 9 No 10 No 11 Nos 12-14 No 13
No 15 No 16 No 17 Nos 17½-19 No 18 No 20 No 21 No 22 No 23-25 No 24
No 26 No 27


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Celebrations in Beresford Street for Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897
Beresford Street in the first decade of the 20th century
An unusual view showing the tops of shop blinds in the 1890s

Businesses

By 1899 the Beresford Library was owned by Messrs Labey and Blampied
A cider bottle sold by C Naylor

Notes and references

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