I was plodding past the Woodlands apartment complex in Grouville on Tuesday morning. It put me in mind of a Friday evening many years ago when myself and my future (and also ex) wife were having a few drinks at the Castle Green in Gorey. We called a cab at the end of the evening and were treated to a pyrotechnic display as we drove by the Woodlands Hotel burning to the ground at the same spot. The following morning when I called into the Dog & Sausage for a livener there was an electrician of my acquaintance looking uncharacteristically sheepish and quiet; it transpired he had been working late there the previous evening!
Of course the hotel site was transformed into apartments in the way that has typified the Island in the years since the tourism industry took a back seat to finance in the local scheme of things. The thing is, this hotel fire thing isn’t particularly unusual in Jersey. Off the top of my head there have been…
The Palace Hotel in St Saviour, some time towards the end of the Occupation. Formerly managed by Olympic sprinter Cyril Gill it was in use by the Germans at the time and the basement was an ammo store. One night the whole lot went up. Some say it was the work of a disaffected German soldier who wanted to hasten the endgame in order to get home. The site is now a mature housing estate, Palace Close.
Maison Victor Hugo is the rather posh apartment complex where I am presently living. It must be some 25 years ago that the Hotel Victor Hugo burnt down overnight. The site was derelict for a long time before the present building went up.
Now within the last couple of months we have the former Mont de la Rocque Hotel at St Aubin burning down after several tries at obtaining planning permission.
An honourable mention to the Hotel de France which, after each of two major fires, has bounced back as a bigger and better hotel in the years following.