Saye Bay, Alderney

Saye Bay, one of Alderney’s many beautiful beaches, looking towards the Victorian fort Château à L’Etoc. Watercolour and gouache on paper, 29 x 21.0 cm.


Here’s a view of Saye Bay (pronounced Soy), one of Alderney’s many beautiful beaches. We are looking towards the Victorian fort Château à L’Etoc.

The island’s history is a troubled one. During the German WWII occupation of the Channel Islands, Hitler deemed Alderney to be of vital strategic importance. From 1942 to 1944 the land just south of Saye Bay was the site of Lager Norderney, one of four camps built by the Nazis to house workers needed to build a vast network of tunnels and fortifications. Lager Norderney was a concentration camp that housed Russian slave workers, at first under the control of the Organisation Todt and subsequently the SS. Nowadays, the area is a campsite for holidaymakers.

Hitler’s paranoid delusion regarding the importance of the Channel Islands was as much a folly as the earlier Victorian paranoia regarding Napoleon III. The island was ringed with batteries – Château à L’Etoc itself was built in 1855 to mount 23 guns and a complement of 128 men. France and Great Britain became allies just a year later.

The name of the fort, Château à L’Etoc, means fort of the sea stack (it is built on a promontory). Note the similarity to Les Etacs, the stacks, that you can see in another of my paintings (sold).

Saye Bay is an almost perfect beach. The arms are rocky and there are numerous weedy pools to explore, while the beach is of powdery white sand. If only the water was warmer!

You might also like my view of Longis Bay in Alderney