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18 June 2014
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Legacies - Jersey

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Jersey
Watermill
© Courtesy of The National Trust for Jersey.
Milling around in Jersey

Dating back to the 13th Century, Le Moulin de Quetivel is once again a perfectly-restored example of a working watermill. It has proven its worth to the islanders of Jersey over generations, not least during the German occupation in the Second World War.

The Channel Islands were important to Hitler's plans during the Second World War, with Jersey being particularly crucial for German wartime activities in the Atlantic.

Thousands of German troops landed on Jersey, fundamentally transforming the island from a popular holiday destination to that of a prison for the islanders. Le Moulin de Quetivel watermill was to become vital.

Watermill
© Courtesy of The National Trust for Jersey.
People caught disobeying German army rules were imprisoned, deported to concentration camps, or simply died from hunger. Without the intervention of the Red Cross the island would have witnessed mass starvation as English and German supply ships failed to reach Jersey's shores.

It was to ease this catastrophic food shortage that Le Moulin de Quetivel was one of three island watermills to be restored to working condition. But the choice of Le Moulin de Quetivel has mystified many, as there were several other mills on the island in better condition.

Waterwheel
© Courtesy of The National Trust for Jersey.
Under the watchful eye of their captors, islanders were forced to make the mills operational. But with hunger as their incentive, they eagerly complied. They had to overcome years of neglect suffered by the mills and their surroundings.

They cleared ponds and waterways, constructed a new 12ft diameter waterwheel, made with greenheart segments and oak teeth. It was a fine piece of craftsmanship during such dark days of war. They re-built the nearby bridge and, as a major boon in occupation times, they even installed a bread oven.


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