No 72 King Street

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72 King Street


St Helier had no traffic-free streets until the late 1960s, when King Street became the first pedestrian precinct, followed soon after by Queen Street. Jersey Tourism took the opportunity to commission these photographs to illustrate promotional glossy brochures to promote conference business in the island. Many of the buildings at the bottom end of King Street shown in the photograph had remained relatively unchanged, at least externally, and particularly above the ground floors, since they were built in the 19th century.

No 72 is towards the back of this row of premises at the western end of King Street

The building

Part of a row of Victorian shops retaining some fine decorative features, and contributing to the character, and consistency of the scale and rhythm of the streetscape. Part of a unified row of mid-late 19th century shops, on a site with earlier origins. A plaque attached at the end of the row reads: 'Vice Admiral Philippe D'Auvergne, Prince of Bouillon, lived here 1754-1770'.

Originally two properties, now combined. Both properties are three-bay, three-storey plus attic. Pitched roofs behind parapet. Pitched roof dormers with arched bargeboards, finials and pendants. Continuous moulded cornice over plain frieze, above string course. Walls rendered with rusticated quoins. No.72 has banded rustication, alternately vermiculated, at first floor. No.74 is plainer, with lined ashlar effect; hopper and square downpipe to west. Shopfronts have plain fascia with round-headed corbels; unusually framed by ashlar granite pilasters, with stone plinths. Both with large display windows and recessed entrances, edged by narrow round columns.


Our histories of other properties in King Street show that it was unusual for traders to remain at the same premises from the early 1830s through to the 1850s, but grocer and wine merchant John Valpy (1805- ) was an exception at No 72.

He is first recorded in a 1833 commercial directory, but his advertisements refer to his business being established five years earlier; and then in the censuses of 1841 and 1851, living with wife Mary (1809- ). The advertisements below indicate that he was in business at least until 1859, but moved to the Parade in 1861.

Royal approval

It must have been a posh business, because John is described in the census as ‘wine merchant to Her Majesty’ and in his advertisements as 'by Appointment to Her Majesty'. It has not been possible to discover whether John Valpy held an official Royal Warrant, but it seems unlikely that he would have described himself in this way had he not.

It is difficult to find an accurate ancestry for John. It seems most likely that he was the son of Jean Valpy and Esther Jolin, who married in St Helier in 1803. Jean was probably the son of Jean Valpy and Jeanne Averty. Jean was from Trinity and married Jeanne in St Clement in 1778. He appears to be the son of Philippe Valpy and Jeanne Amy, but there the trail goes cold.

In 1861 linen draper William Jones (1815- ), a Welshman, was living at and trading from No 72. He lived with his Jersey-born wife Anne, nee Gruchy, (1814- ) and their children Anne (1845- ), William (1847- ), Alice (1853- ) and Bertha (1855- ).

Ten years later hosier John Best (1806- ) was trading at no 72, living with his wife Mary Ann (1823- ) and children frances (1842- ), Henry (1844- ), Alfred (1848- ), Arthur (1851- ) and Ernest (1857- ).

Left to right: 74 and 72 King Street
No 72 was home to the Oriental Museum at some time between 1912 and 1919

Public house

There is no record of No 72 in subsequent censuses, perhaps because by 1880 it had become a public house, with nobody resident on the premises. The first publican was A Campbell, followed by Mrs Petit.

By 1900 No 72 had reverted to a drapery, run by John Baudains, but by 1919 Fox Chemists were trading there. Ten years later the property had been taken over by the Jersey Electricity Company, and at the beginning of the Occupation it was home to Olympia Amusement Arcade.

In the 1960s Lexicon Library moved to No 72 from further along King Street, and they were followed by W H Smith, which continues to trade there today.

Chronology [1]

  • 1828-1861 - John Valpy, grocer
  • 1861 - William Jones, linen draper
  • 1871 - John Best, hosier
  • 1880 - A Campbell, publican
  • 1885 - Mrs Petit, publican
  • 1900-1912 - John Baudains, draper
  • 1912-1919 - The Oriental Museum
  • 1919 - Fox Chemists
  • 1929-1939 - Jersey Electricity Company
  • 1940-1949 - Olympia Amusement Arcade
  • 1955-1975+ - Lexicon Bookshop
  • 1980- W H Smith

Notes and references

  1. Many of the start and end dates given for businesses are approximate. As more business advertisements and other records are discovered the dates will be adjusted
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