The Romans built the first paved roads in England. The people of Rye, a couple of hundred years later, started to make the streets in and around Rye serviceable by gathering the hardest wearing material at hand, the humble flint. Out on the shore the people found an abundant supply of boulders. Once transported to the site, men lay them, packing them tightly into place and bedded them in with mud.There they remained, never to wear out. The odd one would perhaps come out of place but the local paver would soon be on hand to relocate and tamp it back into place. The cobbles, as they are known, need little attention in the summer months. A light weeding is all that is required. Thousands of people from all over the world visit Rye annually but what sort of impression do they take away with them nowadays?


The best way I can describe one of our old streets like Conduit hill, is boulderdash! It is a disgrace to the ancient town. Has Rother Council no pride? Obviously not in our area! Each time a stone comes loose, they plaster the hole it has vacated with a dollop of ready mix. The old boulder is seldom replaced and soon the whole hill will be nothing other than a river of concrete patches. Then they will claim it is unsightly and not safe so cover it in asphalt. Rother Council are a law unto themselves. Let anyone in the citidal of Rye change their doorknocker or colour of the door, an order to replace to the original image would quickly follow, with the threat of court action! So come on Rother. Employ a man that knows his trade for a change, or do the decent thing like many others in this town are suggesting and get out before you are kicked out!

PS: For information only. I know of a large lump of blue stones already gathered into a pile ready to transport. They were surplus to the last consignment my father hauled to Winchelsea Station to load into goods wagons in the coal yard. Those were sent from there by British Rail to Coventry to help build the new cathedral. I suppose now you would need a pile of paperwork to get permission to remove them, not like the old days!

Rye’s Own May 2005

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