I presume that the Willie Miller organised discussion was more about current appearance than past history but I find it difficult to separate these matters.
My first video below arose from an entirely chance encounter with Mick Millar whose family were the founders of John Terry Ltd in the mid 19th century.
The original John Terry was from Yorkshire and he built up one of the major agricultural merchant's businesses in St Helier which survived into the 1970s.
Mick Millar kindly showed me around his building which has long diversified into other uses but retains so many traditional features. It describes - with Mick Millar's help - precisely what I want to say and much more.
There were many such businesses in St Helier and this is the central theme of my observation that growing potatoes, tomatoes and flowers etc was not solely a countryside activity. It was integrally linked to the merchants in St Helier and the buildings of the town were inevitably an integral part too.
Thus there were many dozens of granite merchants' stores and they were critical ingredients of the character of St Helier and the commercial and social life of the whole Island.
Through the merchants' activities the agriculture of the country was brought into the town.
Unlike today where agriculture is a country matter, in the past it was an essential part of the whole of Island life.
The merchants were active all the year round. They employed workers who lived in St Helier, drank in the pubs and spent their wages in local shops. There was no agriculture / town divide as exists today. Working clothes were not banned in workers pubs. To a large extent the merchants buildings and their activities created the "character" of St Helier.
This no longer exists today.
St Helier has no unifying purpose now. No traditional merchants stores survive providing their traditional purpose. Some have been "converted" into other commercial uses and a few serve as facades only to banking or finance sector activities. There is a curious need for the "planners" to preserve the illusion of the historic and traditional uses and the John Terry buildings will it seems follow suit soon. Some traditional features only will survive when it is inevitably redeveloped.
Meanwhile Jersey still retains a diminishing "agri" sector which still sets the "character" standard for the country parishes of brown cows in green fields and potato growing.
Although there is a desperate shortage of land for building houses across the Island - the agri lobby resists the release of any land for this purpose. Yet it is also evident that many landowners would be pleased to develop some land and the agri sector faces a doubtful future.
At the same time the "planners" insist on cramming housing accommodation into St Helier or other "built-up areas" and maintain an obsession with creating "zones" so that housing and commercial or entertainment activities are kept apart - and often sterile - whilst the Finance Sector (now the major source of wealth for the Island) has some special status that demands isolation and an architectural banality all of its own. It has not become an integral part of St Helier and its "character" - on the contrary its activities are largely remote and secret and it shows.
My second video looks at some of these aspects of St Helier where "character" has become the servant of the motor vehicle.
It is appropriate that the sound on my recording is almost inaudible due to the overbearing "traffic noise" and I make no attempt to remedy this