Detectorist, local history geek and occasional walk guide, Johnathan Bull, spends his spare time digging up the past as well as the occasional bomb with his metal detector and trusty spade.
Now he’s digging up some home truths about how our Island could be improved.
There is far too much negativity in general from residents here - “Tourism is dead”, “Too expensive”, “No one comes here.”
I realise we will never have the numbers from the 70s and 80s visiting our Island, but we need to promote where we can. The States of Jersey via Visit Jersey are trying to build visitor numbers long-term, and we need to support that initiative. More can be done of course; looking at the expense to get here is a major problem and one that needs to be addressed. We have a wonderful Island with beautiful scenery, history, restaurants, beaches and attractions to share. Be nice! Next time you see someone poring over a map, go and ask if they need help or if a hire car or overseas registration car is driving along slowly or trying to change lane, have some patience. Which leads on perfectly to…
Drag them into 2017 with digital apps and self guided walks with digital guides, either on smartphones or digital headphones using multiple languages. Whether it’s a castle, fort, bunker complex, Conway or Martello Tower some kind of guidance and information is needed.
To set up involves a cost, but it would likely mean more visitors to the sites, which could be manned by students looking to earn some money or weekend jobs for teens. No historical knowledge needed; hand out the headphones, take the money and everyone’s happy. Guides could still of course be on offer at sites; a balance is required. The Jersey Heritage recent Jersey Offline Map app is a great idea and a good start. Local Historical groups need to work together sharing information and resources, including manpower, whether the groups are amateurs, volunteers or paid professionals. It needs manpower and fresh ideas! Visit Jersey and the States of Jersey also need to invest in this type of initiative, engaging with the public and also the guardians of the many wonderful sites we have here in Jersey.
Sometimes when seeing planning applications and developments being built, I wonder if we really have one? Infilling and the creeping expansion of St. Helier and the Eastern parishes make me wonder who is making these decisions. With the major arteries into St. Helier being jam-packed with vehicles daily, some of the recent very large developments on these very roads seem as if someone hasn’t thought things through regarding the added traffic.
I think perhaps that Planning should be revising the revised 2011 plan as soon as possible! Let’s not get me started on the loss of historical buildings in the last couple of years either, mostly due to error and indifference of either Planning or the developers.
The last 12 months (at least!) have thrown up some of the largest mistakes and PR disasters within the States of Jersey and it seems that still no one is accountable.
Within the last few days we are being told that everything isn’t as bad as we thought after all. I feel like Mr. Whymper in Orwell’s Animal Farm, being led past the food bins, which are filled with sand and topped with grain to look full!
For god’s sake just do something! It needs to be big and bold and the project not States-run. There was talk of a Casino, a University, a part housing development part Sports centre, one funding the other. All have their merits but of course their downsides.
One thing for sure is not to turn it back into what it was in the 80s and 90s. Many people comment on how great it was with the fairground, shows and the pool. Indeed it was, but tastes have changed, kids have far more choice and input these days and heading up The Fort every day, as it was, for six weeks in the summer holidays would not cut it. I was lucky enough to work for two summer seasons as a fairground attendant in 1990 and 1991 at Fort Regent… If Carlsberg did jobs…
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