St Brelade's Bay Hotel

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St Brelade's Bay Hotel

Probably the oldest hotel in the very popular bay, the St Brelade's Bay Hotel started life as an inn owned by a brewery


German officers relaxing at the hotel during the Occupation

In the late 19th century St Brelade’s Bay Hotel was hardly more than a pub owned by a local brewery. It was situated where the cocktail bar is now. Apart from the parish church, the only houses in the bay at that time were four farms, some fishermen’s cottages and the coastal defensive tower.

Sarah Jennings, a publican by trade, became the license holder in 1877. Her daughter, Ellen, took over the tenancy in 1880 and in 1884 married Alan Harden an “ambitious commercial traveller”. Over the following years they had three daughters, Helen, May and Eve.

Alan Harden

Alan Harden was successful. He considerably enlarged the premises, doubling the bedroom capacity. The room rate at that time was seven shillings and sixpence for full board, with free use of a bathing machine; a lobster lunch was one shilling and sixpence.

In 1917 Mr Harden asked the brewery to sell him the freehold, but they refused. He immediately bought a plot of land next door and built the granite building at the west end of the hotel and threatened to open a rival establishment. In 1919 the brewery reluctantly sold the freehold to him and the next door property was turned into self-contained flats.

Alan Harden died in 1924 and the license was inherited by Helen Colley, his widowed eldest daughter. During her time in charge the two buildings were joined together and considerable improvements were made to the interior including, among other things, “electric light throughout”. Then, and earlier, a large proportion of the vegetables used in the hotel were grown in what is now the gardens. Three côtils of Jersey Royals on the hillside at the back, tomatoes and cucumbers in the greenhouses, vegetables where the pool bar and tennis court are now, cherry and pear trees where the swimming pool is situated and an apple orchard on the car park.

Bob Colley

Helen Colley retired in 1933 and her only son Bob took over the reins. The Germans invaded Jersey on 1 July 1940 and he escaped to England on one of the last steamers. His mother and his aunts remained in the island throughout the Occupation. The hotel was taken over by the Germans and was used as a Soldatenheim, a place for rest and recreation away from the front line. Jersey was a prestigious part of Hitler’s “Atlantic Wall” and among the numerous defensive constructions built by slave labour on the island were the sea wall stretching the length of the bay and, beneath the terrace at the front of the hotel, an air-raid shelter, now used as a holding tank for rainwater.

In May 1945 Bob Colley returned to Jersey with his new wife, Audrey, and his stepson. The hotel was in an appalling condition after the four years of the Occupation and it took some years to be up and running properly again. Tourism in Jersey started to boom in the late 1950s and during this period the other hotels in the bay were built. Bob Colley made some major changes to the premises, all the bedrooms were made en-suite, the swimming pool was built along with the pool bar and grill and a new floor was added.

Bob Colley died in 1965 and for the next 25 years the hotel was run by his stepson Digby, who returned his shares to the family in 1990. Robert and Mandy Colley then ran the hotel until 2009, the fifth generation of the family to run the hotel.

In November 2009, the hotel was sold to Jayne Best, Daughter of Wigan Athletic Chairman Dave Whelan.

Picture gallery

The hotel in 1900

Click on any image to see larger version

A carriage collects guests in 1908
A family outing in the Edwardian era
An artist's impression of the hotel before the sea wall was built and land reclaimed in front of the buildings to create seaside gardens and a full-width road
The hotel from the air in this 1974 Jersey Evening Post photograph
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