12th February 1985
The States votes to flood Queen’s Valley
The battle to save Queen’s Valley from flooding, with the goal of creating a reservoir that would satisfy Jersey’s needs for years to come, had been hard fought for more than a decade by the time the States voted for a third time in favour of the move, by 39 votes to 11. In doing so, it authorised the destruction of what The Times called Jersey’s “last large unspoilt area”.
A house in the valley had been used as the home of the television detective, Jim Bergerac. According to the same report in The Times, “in real life, Bergerac’s cottage is the home of Mme Marie Travert, aged 87, her son Eugene and eight cats. They will be evicted from the 500-year-old farmhouse which they have rented from the Crown for 40 years when the reservoir proposal goes ahead. Theirs is the only inhabited house in the valley.”
Fact in fiction
The reservoir plans even featured in the Bergerac storyline, albeit briefly, when a scene depicting Jim visiting an estate agent in search of alternative accommodation saw him meeting what would become his love interest for the fourth series, as played by Louise Jameson.
Some big names had supported the Save our Valley campaign against its flooding, including David Bellamy, a naturalist famous for his television programmes, and Gerald Durrell of Jersey Zoo. In the biggest demonstration Jersey had ever seen, more than 7000 locals turned out to protest against the move, and one in eight of all residents signed a petition calling for the flooding plans to be abandoned.
The campaign was ultimately unsuccessful, an 80ft dam was built and the reservoir finally flooded in 1991, although not before other twists in the long-running saga threatened to derail the project, including a change of ownership for the water company, the contractor working on construction appointing receivers and suppliers withholding materials.
FREE Jersey history newsletter
Don't miss our weekly update on Jersey's fascinating history. We promise never to sell your data to anyone else, and there's a super-easy unsubscribe link on the bottom of each email so you can leave whenever you want.