Down Rye Way – April 1966 – Robert Bayley

by J.P.H.

Pushed Handcart to Battle before Breakfast

Robert Bayley was born in Rye on the 19 November, 1886 at the Mint, where he grew up. When he was a small boy his father was a sailor. Bob still remembers the good hidings he had for going on his father’s ship, after being told not to. One day he went aboard with his brother and they locked the ship’s crew in one of the cabins and cast off in an attempt to sail the ship, but, unfortunately it resulted in his brother falling over the side. Luckily after he went under for the second time he was seen by a fisherman and pulled out just in time.

Bob Bayley was only a young lad when his father died, leaving his mother a widow with six children. Times were very hard, but nevertheless he never went hungry, his mother made ends meet by sheer hard work.

Bob first went to school at Miss Albins in Watch-bell Street and from there he sat for the Meryon exam, which he passed and so he went to Rye Grammar School. When he left school at the age of fifteen he was the head boy. Starting work straight away as an apprentice plumber and painter to Mr. Burnham, who, by the way, was Bob’s uncle, he received 2/- for a week’s work of which he gave his mother 1/6 and kept 6d. for his pocket money. The following year he earnt 4/- a week, then he gave his mother 2/- a week and 2/- for himself out of which he had to buy clothes.

In August, 1914, with the threat of war at hand, a very happy event happened in Bob’s life, he was married to the then Miss Worth. Now they have been happily married for 52 years and have three children, a son and daughter in Rye and a daughter in Canada. They also have four grandchildren.

Robert Bailey
Robert Bailey

During his early working years, times were hard, he remembers a time when he had to push a handcart from Rye to Battle before starting work there on a Monday morning, and another time when he pushed a handcart to Bodiam and back, 27 miles, in one day.

Bob’s work entailed a lot of well work, which was very dangerous. Some of the wells were anything up to 200 feet deep and he had several narrow escapes from frayed rope, gas pockets and other hazards.

In Leicestershire some trouble was being met with over 10 miles of Pipe laying, Bob was called to supervise the job. He made such a success of it that he was presented with a Testimonial of appre­ciation, signed by council members and the borough engineer.

Mr. Bayley worked for his uncle for twenty-four years. After he left there he worked for Ellis Brothers until he retired.

From the April 1966 Issue of “Rye’s Own”

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