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?
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.”
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.
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.”
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
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