Starting at the White Horse, walk down the slipway by the Dicq Shack beach café.
The large rocky outcrop on the right-hand side of the slipway is known as Le Rocher des Proscrits or The Exiles’ Rock. A plaque was set in the rock in 1954 in memory of Victor Hugo, the famous French writer, who lived for 20 years in exile in the Channel Islands, nearby in Greve d’Azette between 1852 and 1855. Hugo had many photographic portraits taken on top of the rock, alone and in thought, facing towards France.
Return to the White Horse and walk along the pavement towards the bathing pool. On the opposite side of the road, you will see the Ommaroo Hotel.
The Ommaroo Hotel, with its lovely decorative frontage, is in a prime location on the seafront at Havre des Pas. It was built in the late 1880s as a terrace of private houses and was converted into a hotel in the early 20th century when the tourism industry began to boom in this area. Many private homes were converted into hotels and guesthouses to accommodate the crowds of holidaymakers.
Note the postbox set into the roadside wall by the Ommaroo Hotel.
This is a George VI wall box, one of a collection of Island-wide post boxes of historical interest. The postal service has a long history in Jersey. The first Post Office was established here in February 1794, and in the 1850s the first British pillar boxes were trialled in Jersey, on the recommendation of novelist Anthony Trollope.
Stop opposite the bathing pool or cross the bridge to take a closer look.
This seawater pool dates from 1895 and is an early example of an outdoor seaside swimming pool or lido. It is unusual in that it was dedicated to teaching swimming rather than recreation. The circular granite tower dates from the original design and the blue terraces were added in the 1920s as sunbathing became popular.
The pool was built by the Jersey Swimming Club, which was formed in 1865 following the tragic drowning of two young boys in the sea at Havre des Pas. There were many witnesses but nobody knew how to swim so the boys could not be rescued when they got into difficulty. The pool provided a safe place to hold swimming lessons, and there were regular swimming and diving competitions as well as gala events. The pool fell into disrepair when the Island’s first indoor pool was opened at Fort Regent leisure centre in 1972. However, it was restored in 2000 and has benefitted from today’s growing interest in sea swimming.
Follow the pavement alongside the road in front of the Fort D’Auvergne Hotel. Turn left into the site of Allix’s shipyard by the large wooden ship.
Jersey was an important shipbuilding centre in the British Isles in the 19th century. The Allix shipbuilding yard operated from 1830 and a gap was left when the sea wall was built through which the ships could be launched. This can still be seen although it is now blocked in. The first boat built here was The Jupiter in 1832 and the last one was built in 1904.
Walk through Allix’s shipyard and turn right onto the seafront promenade. Carry on past the slipway and continue along the promenade. Pass the café on the right-hand side and take the second set of steps up into the seaside gardens above.
Just opposite these steps was the site of a men’s bathing place. In Victorian times, it was quite common for men to bathe nude while, a bit further down the coast, women were being carried into the water in horse-drawn bathing machines to preserve their modesty!
At the top of the steps, turn left and follow the path until there is an exit on the right-hand side by the Barracks.
This is a rare surviving example of a late 18th century Engineers Barracks. To its left, stands a squat Martello Tower that was built in 1834. It was used to defend the Havre des Pas area beneath the flank of Fort Regent against French attack. The roof deck of this Martello Tower was originally designed to mount three guns, with a very broad encircling parapet. Access to the roof was via a pair of granite stairs set entirely within the thickness of the external wall. The ground floor was the original magazine for storing gunpowder, while the gunners had their bomb-proof accommodation on the floor above.
Follow the path alongside the Barracks and head towards the black painted cannons. Cross the lawn and take the path by the black litter bin. Head to the benches in the shelter.
From this vantage point, there are sweeping views across the bay. On the horizon you can see Icho Tower, a squat round tower that stands a mile offshore from Le Hocq. It was built to defend the Island during the Napoleonic Wars, and is now painted white and used as a navigation mark. At low tide you will be able to see the many rocks that make this stretch of coast so dangerous to navigate.
These seaside gardens were laid out in the early 20th century as tourism boomed and replaced the traditional shipbuilding industry of the area.
To the left, notice the simple Fisherman’s Cottage, now restored as a Jersey Heritage Let for holiday rentals.
Take the path near the Cottage and head back down to the promenade.
Pause at the top of the slipway and look back up the hill. Bramerton House on the right-hand side has a plaque to commemorate the fact that T E Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) lived here when his family moved to Jersey for a short time in 1893.
Head back along the seaside promenade toward the bathing pool. Stop by the Marina Metro Hotel.
This was the site of a biological station that was set up by local naturalist Joseph Sinel and his son-in-law James Hornell in 1893. It included an aquarium for the public which described itself as ‘the most beautiful aquarium in Europe’. One of their most popular exhibits was the octopus, or ‘Devil-Fish’ as they called it in their advertising!
Carry on to the end of the promenade and pause on the corner by the Fort d’Auvergne Hotel.
A plaque marks this site as the surviving part of La Garde du Havre des Pas, a defensive work built in the mid-18th century against French attack. It originally consisted of a boulevard, powder magazine and two guns and was re-named Fort d’Auvergne around 1833 in honour of Major General James d’Auvergne.
Head back towards the bathing pool and notice the many fine Victorian seaside houses and terraces that line the seafront.
An 1896 guidebook described Havre des Pas as ‘until recently but a cluster of fishermen’s cottages that has now developed into an important and fashionable suburb, with some of the finest private houses in the Island.’
Walk back to the White Horse along the pavement.
Chateau de La Mer
On the way, notice the flamboyant seaside villa called Chateau de La Mer which overlooks the sea. Further on you will pass a building called Silvertide. This was the headquarters of the Geheimfeldpolizei (secret military police) during the Occupation.
Enjoy some well-earned refreshment at the White Horse!
This popular pub dates back to the 18th century and occupies the short stretch of coastline belonging to the parish of St Saviour, sandwiched between the boundaries of St Helier and St Clement.