The Steam Clock – which has been controversial since it was first commissioned by the Waterfront Enterprise Board in 1996 at a cost of £250,000 – was ‘gifted’ to Ports of Jersey and at present its future is uncertain.
But yesterday, speaking at the launch of Ports’ annual report, chief executive Doug Bannister said they are undertaking a full review of property assets as part of the Harbour Master Plan. While this is being done, they are keeping the Steam Clock site ‘neat and tidy’, but he confirmed an approach had been made by a hotel group.
However, he added that no decisions had yet been made.
The Steam Clock, which is now electric, is in a poor state of repair and has come under extensive criticism for its inability to tell the time and poor visual impact for visitors to the Island. Ports has said it has no budget to repair the clock with significant infrastructure investments planned at both the Airport and Harbour.
In the past, St Helier Constable, Simon Crowcroft has called for the clock to be gifted to the parish. However, he said he would not rule out the idea of a hotel on the site.
‘I welcome new hotels coming to Jersey – it’s very exciting for tourism,’ he said. ‘I have tried to protect the Steam Clock site because we are so short of open space. I think there’s also a second issue, that it is facing a drying harbour [the Old Harbour which is tidal] and whether they [the hotel group] would want the harbour filled. It’s something that would obviously be open to discussion, but I would want to talk to Ports about compensatory open space.’
Last year local maritime historian Doug Ford shared pictures of the clock – which does not work – on Twitter and questioned the kind of advert it was for Jersey.
Ports said that there was a team responsible for ensuring the structure was safe but there was no immediate need to carry out any work.