8th January 1931

Work begins on the Val des Terres

Without the Val des Terres, getting into and out of St Peter Port from the south or west would be tortuous. We should be grateful, then, that the planners who plotted its winding path down the hill from Fort Road had sufficient foresight to commission was might have looked like an indulgence.

Car ownership was increasing in 1931, as the price of vehicles fell. The Morris Minor debuted that year, costing just £100, and unless Guernsey did something to upgrade its road system, more cars at similar prices would see the existing routes clogged.

But construction of the Val des Terres was about more than just providing a better route into Town. It was also organised for the public good, with the workers employed to dig and lay it taken from the island’s long-term unemployed.

The exception was the bailiff who, although gainfully employed, was given the honour of digging the first sod. Sadly, regardless of the fanfare, reports suggest that the event may well have been spoiled by the weather. Guernsey had just over two hours of sunlight that day, and the boats from the mainland were delayed by fog.

The Val des Terres is opened

It wasn’t called Val des Terres at the time, but simply New Road, and didn’t get the name by which it is now known until its official opening by the Price of Wales in 1935.

Despite having just one lane in either direction, the Val des Terres remains one of the most important routes into St Peter Port. That still doesn’t stop it being closed from time to time to accommodate the British Hill Climb Championship.

This first happened in 1946 when driver G Bainbridge covered the 780m (850yds / 0.5 miles) in 50.6 seconds. This was chipped away at over the years and, by 2008, driver Martin Groves had cut the course record to just 28.25 seconds.

 

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Other events that occured in January

Alderney elects its first president 1st
Guille and Alles open their library 2nd
Guernsey bans smoking in public places 3rd
Guernsey Press registers its domain 4th
Guernsey Zoo is sold as a going concern 5th
Guernsey opens its wartime files
Guernsey Police moves to its new headquarters 6th
Guernsey Fisher makes its maiden voyage 7th
Work begins on the Val des Terres 8th
A hotel porter goes on trial for murder 9th
Guernsey Police Service appoints its first inspector 10th
Royal theft inquiry heads to Guernsey 11th
Channel Express Airways plane crashes on Guernsey 12th
Sibyl Hathaway, Dame of Sark, is born 13th
Channel Television disappears 14th
Benefactor Osmond de Beauvoir Priaulx dies 15th
MV Prosperity is wrecked at Perelle 16th
Guernsey’s Royal Court sits for the first time 17th
Doctor Who travels to Guernsey 18th
Channel 4 gameshow Treasure Hunt comes to Guernsey 19th
Hanois Lighthouse is cut off by the weather 20th
Guernsey-built prototype plane crashes 21st
Guernsey Steam Tramway stops running 22nd
Radiant Med sinks with loss of life 23rd
Guernsey wins gold at the Commonwealth Games 24th
Sark is awarded Dark-Sky status 25th
Guernsey passengers are battered by storms 26th
Sir Isaac Newton has his say on a mysterious Guernsey invention 27th
Guernsey’s last witch trial takes place 28th
Guernsey poet George Métivier is born 29th
The States of Guernsey proposes a new airport 30th
Guernsey lifeboat performs a chemical tanker rescue 31st