22nd August 1919

St Sampson pensioner was buried in a landslide

St Sampson residents had a nasty shock on 22 August 1919. Going about their business on what they took to be a regular Friday night, they were startled by what sounded like an earthquake. It was so loud that it could be heard across most of Guernsey. People ran out of their homes to see what had happened.

Neighbours discovered that the noise had been caused by 10,000 tons of granite and rubble sliding down the western slope of the 45m (150ft) deep Longue Hougue Quarry. At that time, the quarry belonged to Messers Menuelle and Co.

A fatality

It wasn’t only granite that had fallen, though. The landslip had taken a garden and washhouse from Church Road with it, and buried 83-year-old Mrs Martin, who had been waiting in her garden for her husband to arrive home.

The Scotsman reported,

Eye-witnesses state that they saw Mrs Martin in the garden when a rumbling noise was heard. They shouted to the old lady to get clear, and she endeavoured to do so, but in vain, and disappeared screaming.

Although a search party immediately started to dig through the rubble, Mrs Martin was not found.

The Western Times reported,

There seems to be no possibility of reaching her body, as some of the slabs of granite weigh hundreds of tons.

Whether the landslip had loosened other rocks itself, or they were all destined to fall sooner or later, isn’t clear. Either way, that wasn’t the only landslide the quarry saw that day. A second slip happened around midnight.

It was estimated that the quarry would take two years to recover from the landslide, which covered an area of 90m (300ft) by 20m (70ft).

The quarry has since been flooded and now forms the Longue Houge Reservoir at St Sampson.


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