Set in over twenty-six acres, this was the most imposing hotel in Jersey.
It consisted of 150 bedrooms, sixty of which boasted private bathrooms.
Its most prominent feature was a 450-foot long sun terrace overlooking
the bay of St Clements. It had been built by Robert Henry Miller whose
daughter Phyllis married an English Olympian, Cyrill Gill, who had won
a bronze medal in athletics in the 1928 games in Amsterdam. He
managed the hotel for his father in law during the 1930s.
The hotel also enjoyed the island’s only freshwater 25-yard swimming pool thus making it very popular with locals and visitors alike. The Palace hosted a series of inter-hotel swimming events during the summer months and allowed pupils from Victoria College, which was only a few hundred yards away, to use it for lessons.
It wasn’t heated so, like the seawater pool at Havre des Pas, seemed quite chilly to those used to indoor pools in the UK. However, as it was sheltered and much smaller, it did reach temperatures in the low 20 degrees Centigrade though no one in Britain used that European measure!
Sea temperatures at Havre des Pas were recorded every day and chalked on a blackboard. Records for 1939 showed a rise from 15 C (60 Fahrenheit) in early July to 20 C (68 F) in the second week in September.
Like the pre-war swimmers, I used to train from early June until the end of the season in the middle of September. My school had an outdoor pool similar to the one at the Palace but that was only slightly warmer. For comparison, a typical indoor swimming pool is heated to 30 C (86 F) though, for competitions, the temperature is usually lowered to 26 C (79 F) as the water is thicker and gives more purchase for all the strokes.
Unfortunately, the Palace Hotel wasn’t available to us in the 1960s, as it had mysteriously blown up in 1945 while the Germans were using it as a command centre. Jack Renouf has an explanation for that but the reader will have to wait until the seventh novel in the series to discover more!