Down Rye Way – Tom Upton

Down Rye Way

Tom Upton

On many hot summer evenings Special Police Sergeant Tom Upton does traffic duty in Rye keeping the flow of traffic passing smoothly through the town from the seaside beaches of Camber and Winchelsea Beach. To see Tom Upton in action, competently marshalling the hundreds of cars, its difficult to believe that this upright, fit looking man is over 70.

Born at Beckley in 1894 Tom spent his childhood in the village. He emigrated to Canada, and celebrated his 18th birthday on board ship, in mid-Atlantic! He took up farming near Edmonton, Alberta and learned many aspects of agriculture.

In 1915 he was all set to come to England with the Canadian army but was prevented from joining as farming was considered to be a reserve occupation. He went to Saskatchewan where he lived with a Norwegian family for 10 years. He bought some land in Saskatchewan and farmed there, working hard he built up a 480 acre farm with 14 horses and much stock and equipment by 1927.


1927 was to be a big year in the life of Tom Upton, he sold his farm to his brother and came back to Rye where he married. He bought premises in Cadborough Road and he and his wife ran it as the Cadborough Laundry. A bomb fell on the Laundry in 1940 but failed to explode. He persuaded the bomb disposal officer to give him the shell of the bomb after they had steamed all the explosiv out.

Tom Upton with the bomb he used to collect money for the 'Spitfire fund'
Tom Upton with the bomb he used to collect money for the ‘Spitfire fund’

On the death of his wife he sold the business moved to a house nearby. In 1949 he married again.

Tom Upton has been a well known figure in Rye life for Many Years

In pre-war years he was chairman of the Carnival Committee and since the war a leading figure in the Bonfire Society. Tom has been responsible for building the great Bonfires on the Salts each year. He was with the Police War Reserve during the period of hostilities 1939/45 and is now a special Sergeant of the East Sussex Constabulary.

Mr. Upton, with the aid of his wife, has done valuable work for the hospital car service over the past years.

Tom Upton right pictured meeting the Duke of Norfolk at the opening of Rye's new police Station in 1966
Tom Upton right pictured meeting the Duke of Norfolk at the opening of Rye’s new police Station in 1966

Tom spends his spare time looking after his very attractive garden and making birds nesting boxes, the proceeds of which he gives to the Cancer Research Fund.

From the May 1966 issue of “Rye’s Own”

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