The railway was started in response to a petition by the inhabitants of Gorey, who were jealous at the establishment of a railway in the west of the island. The States of Jersey passed an Act authorising the construction of the Gorey railway on 31 March 1871 and Royal Assent was received a year later. On 6 April 1873 the Jersey Eastern Railway Company was registered. It had permission to construct a railway from Snow Hill to Gorey, and on to St Catherine, but the final leg was never started.Indeed, it was not until 1891 that the line reached Gorey Pier.
When it did, it was possible to book a tbrough ticket from Snow Hill to Paris, with a steamer providing the connection from Gorey to Granville.
The first sod on the route of the line was cut on 17 September 1872 in a field at Samarès by Mrs Edward Mourant, the wife of the Seigneur of Samares, the company chairman. A much grander reception was reserved for the first operational run the following August, and by May 1874 the line was open from Snow Hill to Gorey Common. It was a single, standard gague (4ft 8½in) track with passing loops at Pontac and Grouville. Plans to create a link through from Snow Hill to the Weighbridge terminus of the western railway never came to fruition.
- A history of the Jersey Eastern Railway
- Another history of the Jersey Eastern Railway ...
- ... and another history
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The route followed a coastal course before moving inland to cross from Fauvic to Gorey Village. The start of the journey from Snow Hill was through an impressive cutting with perpendicular rock faces, but after that the whole route was across flat, open land, with the exception of a short cutting and tunnel near Pontac. The line crossed Roseville Street on a steel girder bridge. Unlike the western railway, when the Gorey service eventually closed down, sections of track became the property of private landowners and no public walk was created.
There were nine stations and one halt along the route, at St Luke (Georgetown), Grève d'Azette, Samarès, Le Hocq, Pontac, Le Bourg (halt), La Rocque, Fauvic, Grouville and Gorey Village. There were substantial two-storey stations including the stationmaster's residence. The journey from Gorey to St Helier took about half an hour, but a summer evening express stopping only at Gorey Village and St Luke cut the journey time by half. There were 20 return journeys on weekdays and twelve on Sundays.
The company had four locomotives, each weighing 24 tons, supplied by Kitson of Leeds. They were of 0-4-2 design and painted olive green with black bands and a thin white line on each side. They were called 'Caesares' and 'Calvados', purchased in 1872, 'Mont Orgueil' (1886) and 'Carteret' (1889). Unlike the western line, which had substantial goods traffic, carrying quarried stone from La Moye to St Aubin, the eastern railway would normally just attach a goods wagon to a passenger train as required.
In the 1920s falling passenger numbers in the face of competition from several rival bus services, caused financial problems which saw the introduction of cost-cutting railcars in 1927, named 'Brittany' and 'Normandie', but these could not stem the losses and the company was placed in liquidation on 21 June 1929.
Profiles of stations, photographs and more details of the Jersey Eastern Railway from www.disused-stations.org.uk
- Snow Hill
- Green Street
- St Luke's
- Greve d'Azette
- Pontorson Lane halt
- Le Hocq
- La Rocque
- Gorey Village
- Gorey Pier