16th January 1853
Death of Jersey sewage pioneer
Some people die young, but still manage to pack their short lives with greater achievements than many who live several times longer. One such man was Pierre Le Sueur who became what many consider one of Jersey’s greatest ever Constables.
He showed a flair for the law at an early age, and studied in Paris before being sworn in at the age of just 19. He established his own practice and was so successful in court that his services were in high demand. Yet, it’s not for his legal skills that we should remember him today, but for the laying of St Helier’s first sewers.
Jersey’s sewage problem
Le Sueur lived at a time when Jersey’s population was booming and, as had been the case in London where sewerage had also been an issue, it was obvious that something needed to be done to upgrade the capital’s infrastructure to cope with so many people. So, in 1845 and in the face of public opposition to the associated costs, Le Sueur embarked on an ambitious plan to lay a network of pipes below the town.
It didn’t take long for the public to realise their mistake in opposing the public works and, three years later, an enormous collection raised £330, equivalent to a very good year’s salary, which was used to buy him household gifts, like crockery, cutlery and vases.
Sadly, Le Sueur was unable to enjoy his gifts for long. On 16 January 1853, he died, aged just 41. Details of his death are sketchy and not widely reported in the press of the day.
A cost-cutting memorial
An obelisk of Jersey granite was erected outside the house on Broad Street, St Helier, where Le Sueur had been born in 1811. Sadly, the obelisk was never fully plumbed in, despite being built with four lion heads – one on each side – with a spout to provide for a fountain. Why? Likely because the States didn’t have the budget to lay the pipework. The original plans, for a large fountain instead of a less expensive obelisk, had been deemed too expensive.
Upon her second visit to Jersey, in 1859, Queen Victoria noticed the monument and asked in whose honour it had been erected. When told that it was for Pierre Le Sueur, she claimed to have remembered him, as the man charged with managing her first visit to the island, in 1846, and remarked how much the town had developed over the intervening years.
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