View of Signal Station from St Helier

Signal Station

Les Sîngnaux

The Island’s only working signal station

Jersey Heritage maintains a 300-year-old tradition of flying signals at Fort Regent at what is perhaps the oldest signal station in Britain.

Following the failure of two French invasion attempts on the Island in 1779 and 1781 the idea of creating an early warning system that could also pass messages to Guernsey was revived. In 1792 work began on building a chain of ten signal stations around the Island; these were manned by the Royal Navy because they were used to signalling in code using flags and pennants. At night, cannon and fire beacons were used.

In 1811 the Lieutenant Governor, General Don, reiterated his instruction that if the Island was threatened by invasion then a red flag would be hoisted to the top of the mast at Mont de la Ville (Fort Regent), the size and direction of the enemy fleet would be indicated by the number of balls placed on the yards.  In 1861 Admiral Fitzroy introduced the idea of hoisting a black triangle when a gale (Beaufort force 8 and above) was to be expected. This became known as the storm cone.

Today the signal mast is dressed overall for special occasions, and while it is no longer possible to fly the house flags of vessels in port, whenever visiting warships enter harbour the relevant national flag is hoisted. The Pilot Jack (a Union Jack with a white  border) is hoisted for visiting tall ships and the T flag is flown to mark tides over 38ft (11.6m). Armed Forces Day, Merchant Navy Day and Trafalgar Day are marked by the flying of relevant flags or ensigns and the illuminated Christmas star and Easter Cross are hoisted to mark these religious festivals.

In 2005, when the States of Jersey decided that due to budget constraints they would no longer operate the Signal Station, there was a public outcry. Jersey Heritage organised a new way of keeping the tradition going and operates the Station with the help of the Boat Shop team from the Maritime Museum.  The Signal Station is in service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  It can be viewed from many vantage points in St Helier.   There is no access to the Signal Station itself.

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Mont Orgueil Castle

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Places to Visit

Maritime Museum and Occupation Tapestry Gallery

An interactive adventure about Jersey’s seafaring history and the Occupation Tapestry Gallery tells the Island’s story during WW2.


The Yard Walk

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Town Walk

A short stroll through Town to discover some hidden gems of historic St Helier.


Download the Podcast

We take a look at the story of Howard D, Jersey’s first motor lifeboat, and the rest of the historic fleet on display outside the Maritime Museum. 

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