Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Lets have a look round Jamestown

As I walked from my parking spot to do my morning at the Arts and Crafts Centre yesterday I thought you might like to come too and have a wee look at Jamestown on the way. Jamestown is the capital of St Helena and is the size of a small village. The shops all sell bizarre combinations of this and that because if you can't buy it in Jamestown, you can't buy it at all.

Shall we go?

I often park on the seaside. It has the great advantage of being downhill all the way back to the car with your shopping! Oh, and the view is pretty good too.

Looking right we have the wharf where everything comes and goes: people, food, cars, building materials... It is also a pretty good place for a swim if the ship's not in.

Looking left you can see Donny's bar - everyone goes to Donny's for a drink after work on a Friday. The Smalls run as a pack and the rest of us catch up on the week's events. Beyond that is the sewerage outfall - lovely!

Turn around and you cross the moat towards the defensive wall.

Before we go through the arch though, we could stop at the coffee shop - purveyors of St Helena coffee, and great bacon sandwiches. But not on Mondays. Or Tuesdays. Or Wednesdays. Unless the ship's in when it is probably open. Unless it is not.

So, under the arch...

...and into the Grand Parade.

Lets turn round and have another look at that arch from the other side. At the top is the wirebird, St Helena's only endemic vertebrate. Either side is the arum lily, the national flower. It is not endemic so is likely to be ousted in favour of the St Helena ebony. The signs at the bottom on the right say 'The Arch 1932' and below that 'Flood mark 14-4-1878'.

Moving clockwise from the arch we have the Castle. It is very un-castley but has teeny tiny cannons to make up for it. It contains most of the government offices. 

Next to the Castle is the police station and court house.

Then the public library

and the park.

Across the main street (called Main Street) from the park is St James' church, the oldest Anglican church in the Southern hemisphere. Goodness knows why they decided to paint it battleship grey! Apparently it used to be white. The clock is ten minutes fast by the way.

Tucked in the corner behind the church is HM Prison, the Chief of Police's Office and the Immigration Office. The prison is a Victorian monstrosity which is soon to be replaced with a modern facility out of town.

The rest of this side of the square is taken up buy two warehouses, one of which may still be for sale if you're interested...

Between them is a little street leading to the museum and Jacob's Ladder, all 699 steps of it. If you fancy a go, the world record for an ascent is 5m 14s. The record for five consecutive ascents and the four descents in between is 1h 14m. The old boys reckon they used to slide down in their youth by hooking their arms over one rail and their ankles over the other...

And back in the square we have reached the arch again, passing the youth club along the way. 

Now lets head up Main Street. On the right we have numbers 1, 2, and 3 which are also for sale. Boutique hotel anyone? At the moment there is a rather lovely restaurant in number 2.

Next door is a building holding one of the two radio stations on the top floor, a health food and sports equipment shop in the middle (that's one shop) and a video hire place, a sandwich bar and the Chinese restaurant underneath.

Next up is a guest house with a spice shop in the basement where we buy our fruit when the ship's been.

Crossing over we have the National Trust, a gift shop, a couple of private houses and more government offices.

Then, all in a row, Solomon's: the main office, the shipping office and the insurance office. Solomon's is a company majority owned by the government that runs a wholesaler, supermarket, DIY store, clothing and gift shop, shoe shop, the ship bookings, all the car insurance and the fuel imports. In case that all sound a bit much they are conveniently placed next to the Consulate Hotel.

The Consulate Hotel is a curious business. A hotel with no restaurant, an ok bar and café with variable service, a nice garden, an off licence and an upholsterers. In the basement there is a little independent corner-shop and a hairdresser's and beautician's which is worth a visit, if only for the very welcome air conditioning.

Opposite the hotel is the Post Office where you can buy stamps and maps of the island. Also where you go to pay for a driving licence, passport application, hospital bills and car number plates. On the other floors are the air access office (preparing for the airport) and the Audit Service where J works.

Further up the street is haberdashery which has been about to open for three years.

Then round the corner to the shoe shop and the bank.

The market...

Custard apple, chow chow or chillies anyone? Wellies with that?

Now we have a little bit of shopping to do on the way, I need a zip and some interfacing for my skirt so up past a grocery store, a bookshop and café, and a gift shop which also sells wetsuits and swimwear.

Round the corner is the Victoria. Downstairs: supermarket, electricals and cookware; upstairs: haberdashery, clothing, toys and hats, all in a space about the size of your average Spar.

Right, zip purchased, back down past the wonderfully named London Gift Shop (musical instruments, out of date magazines, acrylic yarn and passport photos by appointment).

And here we are. The Arts and Crafts Centre. They won't need me beyond next week. They have appointed a proper paid shop manager. I will be sad not to come any more, I enjoyed my mornings here, even when a cruise ship demanded trading in three currencies whilst trying to pass the time of day in five languages. Or when the only customer all morning was me.

It is a nice, if quirky little town. Thanks for coming with me.



  1. What a fun & interesting post! Thanks for the tour, I found it quite fascinating.
    Have a good week, xx

  2. A lovely tour of where you live, many happy memories for you to store.

  3. The accurate coffee shop bit gave me quite a laugh!

  4. Thank you for your photo-tours! They bring back very happy memories. Keep up the good work.

  5. Alo Saludos desde Argentina! wonderfull photos