F E Centre, Garage & Ferry Road School

Rye’s Own May 2001

The controversy currently raging about the possible demise of the Lion Street School Buildings, re-sighting the Library in rented accommodation at the old garage in Cinque Ports Street and the new use of the Ferry Road School site may be more to do with raising money for the County Council and Hastings College of Art and Further Education than in providing public amenities on two properties that should belong to the people of Rye. It should be Rye Council and Rye people that decide the uses to which these two important sites are to be put.

The Lion Street buildings were bequeathed by Charles Pix Meryon in 1879 for the education of the children of this town. They have been used on a continuous basis since that time for educational and recreational purposes, all of which Meryon no doubt would have approved. He certainly would not approve of their use for dwelling houses.

Rye folk have voiced their opinions at two public meetings. At the second it was discovered that both the F.E.Centre and The Community Centre were booked to an extent that neither could offer a regular weekly daily booking. When this magazine proposed the provision of a Community Centre for Rye back in the sixties we were told by many Councillors and Aldermen in this town that a Community Centre was desirable but unobtainable because of the cost. We kept on pestering and one day a great man came along to the “Rye’s Own” office.

The Reverend John Williams, Vicar of Rye, moved mountains, and within days a fine committee was formed which would not take no for an answer.

Rye Community Centre came into being less than eighteen months later.

The Lion Street buildings, pictured above, were used as a school until the new Secondary School in New Road and the Primary School in Ferry Road were opened in the thirties.

From that time Lion Street has been used as the Town Library and the numerous other old classrooms for Further Education and recreational activities.

The Rye Movie Society, pictured below, made many award winning films here in the sixties and the Rye Camera Club still hold their meetings at the F.E.Centre as they have done almost continuously since the War.

Cine Club at Work
Cine Club at Work

Art classes, Rye Town Band practice, countless receptions and parties have been enjoyed. The Youth Club, run by Peter Mitchell put many youngsters on the right track in the fifties and sixties and more recently the Brownies made their headquarters there.

To think that it would be possible to recreate such fine facilities in the old garage in Cinque Ports Street is no more than a joke and if the Hastings College of Art and Further Education think they will be allowed to sell off one of Rye’s inheritances they had better think again. As Councillor Colin Marsh said at a recent meeting,

“If Hastings College cannot afford to repair the building, sell it back to Rye for the £1 they gave for it.”

It is quite clear Rye likes to take care of her own.

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