Arthur is 101
Arthur Woodgate has lived through two World Wars, and was a young
man of 17, just starting out as an apprentice bricklayer when The
Great Depression came along.
Originating in the U.S. after the fall in stock prices that began
around September 4, 1929, the problem became worldwide news with the
stock market crash of October 29, 1929.
Young Arthur witnessed the hardships and poverty it caused. It made
a great impression on him and he became a strong trade unionist and
throughout the years up to the outbreak of World War Two and beyond,
became a strong local leader in the Trade Union Movement.
He joined the Rye St. John Ambulance Brigade, a voluntary organisation,
which was at that time running the town’s ambulance service. Arthur
gave many years of service to them, including through the War years,
helping to treat casualties of many wartime incidents and peacetime
accidents, taking them up Rye Hill to the hospital, which paradoxically
has now become his home.
Beside his bricklaying skills, many examples of which can be seen
in Rye, Peasmarsh, Iden and many places on Romney Marsh and his prowess
as a ‘First Aider’ with St John Ambulance, Arthur also served the
community as a magistrate at Rye Magistrates Court until 1973 when
the Local Government Act took away Rye’s Borough status and with that
the right to have it’s own court.
What now for Arthur, the man who saw German Zeppelins, in the First
War, German Bombers in Second great conflict, the establishment of
the Iron Curtain and the fall of the Berlin Wall, the creation of
a European Common Market the European Union and the Euro? It is possible
he will live long enough to see the demise of the British connection
with ‘Federal Europe’.
At 101 his mind is still as active as ever. He has ideas and angles
for many new articles and stories based on his amazing memory of the
area and local people. More power to your elbow Arthur, we look forward
to reading them for many years yet. We hope there will be many more
birthdays ahead, leading up to a very special one when you get to
“Rye’s Own” November 2014
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