In the 19th century, quarrying was Guernsey’s major industry with 268 quarries being actively worked.
The disused quarry at Beaucette in Guernsey’s north east parish of Vale, had been bought by Vale Investments Ltd. Given its location close to the sea the plan was to create a marina. But there was one major obstacle – a substantial cliff wall was in the way.
Quotations were obtained from local companies, but the enterprising owner had an idea and contacted The Royal Engineers to ask if they’d like something to blow up – for training purposes, of course.
After a full reconnaissance had been made, it was estimated one officer and nine men could complete the work in just three weeks. With Ministry of Defence approval given on 18th June, 1968, Vale Investments Ltd accepted The Royal Engineer’s estimate of £725 plus the cost of explosives.
Work began in early July 1968, but it was quickly realised that the original estimate was extremely optimistic. The reasons were threefold. The ‘normal’ method of loosening rock by boring holes from the top proved unsuccessful due to the immense strength of the Guernsey granite; the hope that the weight of water plus the effect of the tides would be sufficient to open the channel – but it wasn’t; and finally, a severe storm deposited 600 tons of previously excavated rock back into the opening. Hence, the work would take a great deal longer, and be more expensive than had been expected.
Work was suspended on 8th October 1968 pending a further reconnaissance in November to assess the situation and plan for completion of the task.
With 80% of the rock already removed, it was concluded that work could be completed using 2 officers and 60 other ranks between 17th February to 6th June 1969.
In the end, the project took over 7 months to complete and involved more than 60 men rather than the original 3 weeks for 10 men.
From the original £725 plus explosives, it cost some £27,000 including the pay and allowances of the officers and men, but excluding expenses such as accommodation, transportation, use of equipment, and the heavy equipment which had been left at the bottom of the quarry and which remains there to this day.
In the end, matters were settled at a total of £3,300 by Vale Investments ltd, being the original estimate plus a £1,000 ex-gratia payment, and Beaucette Marina, Guernsey, was born.
Frequently described as the most peaceful and beautiful marina in the English Channel, Beaucette Marina also provides access to some of the most exhilarating and varied boating off the UK’s south coast.
Beaucette Marina is real hub both for sailors and all those who love the sea and being close to it. Boats come and go daily, are maintained in the adjacent boatyard and are stocked and replenished for the next stages of their adventures.
It’s also an ideal base for exploring the wonders of Guernsey and all it has to offer including easy access to day trips to Herm, Sark and the other islands.
The accommodation at Beaucette Marina is the world-class Plankbridge Shepherds Huts together with the adjacent campervan ground.
Add to the mix one of the very best restaurants on the island, which directly overlooks the Marina, its entrance and is the one place within Guernsey with views of Alderney, Herm, Jethou, Sark, Jersey and France all at the same time.