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13 November 2014

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You are in: Jersey > Jersey Wonders > The five mile road

The five mile road

How did the five mile road get its name? Why isn’t it exactly five miles and why was it built in the first place?

The five mile road

Driving along the road

Have you ever found yourself driving along the five mile road and wondering where the name originates or why it was built in the first place?

Or even why the road isn’t actually five miles long? No? Well we’ve found out for you anyway.

We decided to consult a local historian to find out. We spoke to Frank Falle, the Chairman of the History section of the Societe Jersiaise.

Frank started his exploration of the origins of the name ‘five mile road’ by going back  in history to when it was first built.

He explained that: “From the maps I’ve got I reckon it was built in the 1880s. That puts us into a very interesting period because there was no road along where the five mile road is.”

The five mile road

Looking out to sea

That meant that farmers wanting to get from their farms to Corbiere or L’Etacq  would have to drive along the beach itself.

Frank explained that: “If they wanted to get on to St Ouen beach they had to come from where they live up on their farms straight down to the beach.

“The beach itself was the link road if they wanted to travel in a Corbiere direction or a L’Etacq direction.”

So, if there was a perfectly good beach that was already servicing the needs of the farmers, why build a road? Well it was all about the tourists.

The five mile road

The sea

According to Frank Falle there was an increase in tourist interest in the island and “at this time the island was begging to build up on a visitor trade.”

Frank explains that there were also hotels popping up. He said: “A lot of the hotels started to be built, the Grand Hotel the Somerville Hotel. Jersey was expanding to accommodate and improve the island for accessibility to visitors.”

But it isn’t actually called ‘the five mile road’. The road is called ‘Le Route de Mielle’ and is of Norse origin. Frank said: “Mielle is Norse and means Sand Dunes so it was the road through the sand dunes.”

The colloquial name ‘five mile road’ comes from the fact that “if you stand at Corbiere and look at L’Etacq that is about five and a half miles worth of distance.”

The five mile road

View up the road

We’ve looked at the name and the distance but what about the fact that it ends near Lewis tower?

Frank explains that: “The property beyond that, between that and L’Etacq was far more heavily cultivated, so what you’re coming through up to that point is a whole lot of sand dunes, St Ouen pond and uncultivatable ground.

“You then come up against cultivated ground. There was great problem in negotiating a road through fields and obviously where you get cultivated ground you get a road complex within that cultivated ground.

“So there were already roads leading to L’Etacq from that particular point so why build another road.”

last updated: 21/04/2009 at 14:19
created: 31/03/2009

Have Your Say

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Islander, you're quite right - there was(still is?) a Porsche garage there.There used to be 7 oaks in Sevenoaks, although the 1987 storm changed that.In relation to Green Island, I could never quite understand why the local Irish community didn't "invade" it on St.Patrick's Day for a jolly good party...oh, well, lack of imagination, perhaps?!

Julie is called green island because it has green grass on it and it's an island. And there where no oaks at 5 oaks, just as there weren't 7 oaks in sevenoaks in UK. There used to be a porsche garage there I think

To a reader: there are some in the island who advocate total seccession, but that is digressing.

Most children in Jersey ger History lessons with a national, rather than a regional, perspective. I recall local history being taught in Social Studies lessons.

Perhaps if History were taught with a more regionalist perspective it might be possible to understand these fascinating themes better? If not, one could always incorporate a local studies module within either History or Social Studies.

There are many islanders who don't know where Lilly Langtry is buried, nor have even heard of a certain Mr. Vardon after whom the world famous Vardon grip is named - shame on them!

a reader
Is there no history lessons in the schools of the Jersey? Don't your children learn in school the history of your homeland? Recently I have read that the islanders want to get the Jersey independent state. How do you want to build it if you do not know even the history of your small lovely Island?

Julie Myatt
I like this article. How about some more? Where were/are the 5 oak trees at Five Oaks?Why were Grouville and Trinity not named after saints? Who built the martello towers and why? Whats the story behind the green island at Green Island?

It says LEWIS'S TOWER on the stonework above the door, but we don't have a Cyril Le Marquand's House or a Victoria's College so the same principle applies.There's a fair network of inland roads on the map surveyed in 1787, but no coast road yet at that time.

Chris A
It's 'Lewis's Tower'

Fascinating stuff - more material from local history archives, please!

La Grande Routes des Mielles ws constructed during 1855-56

Great article! It's nice to hear about how things once were in such an unspoiled part of the island...

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