Rare Storm Bell!
By Jo Kirkham
Rye’s 97 year old historian, Arthur Woodgate, recently presented this rare survival of a ‘Storm Bell’ to Rye Castle Museum. Arthur said, “During the time of the change from the 19th to the 20th Centuries, the Rye fishing fleet consisted of some fifty smacks (wind driven fish trawlers of ten tons or more, and around fifty feet in length.) These ships went to sea for fourteen days. My maternal Grandfather, Thomas Clark Batcheler, was owner and skipper of one of these – RX 153 – ‘The Three Brothers.’ ‘This particular fog bell, which they all had, was sold by auction when the trawler ‘Pert’ was laid-up and her gear sold. My grandfather bought it to use on ‘The Three Brothers,’ and it was hung onto the mast when he was anchored down in a fog. He gave the bell to me when he sold the ship in about 1928, on his retirement.”
Jo Kirkham, Chairman of Rye Castle Museum, said that ‘We are very grateful to Arthur for giving the Museum this rare survival of a once vital part of Rye’s history. The Museum has a very fine model of the smack ‘The Three Brothers’ in its collections, and which is on display at our East Street site.
Arthur is an amazing gentleman, who has an encyclopaedic knowledge of Rye and its past. It was his memories that were used to compile the very first booklet of the ‘Rye Memories Series,’ after his visit to the students of the then Thomas Peacocke Community College, back in 1986/7. It was called ‘Goodbye Bijou’ – and described his life both before and after the demolition of the old Bijou Theatre in Cinque Ports Street in 1931.
RX 153 “Three Brothers” sets sail from Rye Harbour headed for the fishing grounds in Rye Bay and beyond.
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