Le Hocq Tower in St. Clement has proved to be a hit with the public, with nearly 1,800 people taking the opportunity to look inside the Tower during its first season as an interpretation centre.
As a result of this public interest, Jersey Heritage and the Jersey Tourist Guides Association (JTGA), whose guides staffed the Tower when it was open, will be meeting shortly to agree to reopen it again next summer.
The fortified Jersey Round Tower is owned by the Parish of St. Clement and leased to Jersey Heritage. Set in a spectacular location, the Tower overlooks the South East Coast of Jersey Ramsar site, which forms one of the largest intertidal reefs in Europe and was designated as a Wetland of International Importance nearly two decades ago.
Jersey Heritage carried out works to enable safe access into the Tower, which was officially opened as an interpretation centre on World Wetlands Day in February. A series of seven public open days on Sundays followed between April and October. It was the first time that the Tower had been opened regularly since it was previously occupied by the Jersey Amateur Radio Society, who vacated the building in 1988.
The Tower now houses a series of pop-up banners, created by Jersey Heritage, which tell the story of Le Hocq and the defence of the island. There is also information about the geology of the area, the prehistoric landscape, and the Ramsar site and wetlands birds. JTGA guides were on hand to give tours and answer questions when the Tower was open, supported by volunteers from Jersey Heritage and the Société Jersiaise.
An estimated 350 people visited the Tower over its opening weekend in February, with another 1,412 people recorded as visitors during the open days. After entering the Tower they were able to climb up to the first floor and down into the cellar, which would have been used to store gunpowder in the 18th century. The open days raised nearly £1,000 in donations for Jersey Heritage from members of the public.
Capt Brian Nibbs, of the JTGA, said: “We are delighted that so many people took the opportunity to find out more about the Tower’s history and the geology of this special corner of Jersey. We had some fantastic feedback, with lots of people saying they had always wanted to climb inside and take a look. We look forward to working with Jersey Heritage again next year to reopen Le Hocq Tower for another season.”
Lucy Layton, Jersey Heritage’s Outreach Curator, added: “The interpretation centre is a wonderful use for the Tower, which is a Listed building and over 200 years old. It fits perfectly with our Forts and Towers project, which aims to give public access to some of the Island’s most historic sites, while also conserving the history and character of these incredible buildings. We are very grateful to the volunteer guides of the Jersey Tourist Guides Association, who gave up their time to staff these open days.”
Le Hocq Tower will reopen on World Wetlands Day on Sunday, 2 February 2020 and, subject to confirmation, the first Sunday of every month between April and October.