He Worked on Rye Barges


Down Rye Way   Ernest Hatter

by Elaine & Heather


Harold Parsons

Harold Stanley Parsons is a true born and bred Ryer. Born at Rother Iron Works in 1907 Harold spent his first school years at the old school near the Town Hall. Later he attended the Strand Hill school, where Gun Drill was included as a lesson in the curriculum. Harold represented the school at football and recalls that he had to pay 1d. for the privilege.

When a boy, Harold, who comes from a family of eight children, lived in the white house at the entrance of Jempsons Yard. He remembers the time when the Strand was under water at high tide and he and his brothers used to ferry their mother across the water in a punt to the laundry, where she worked.

Leaving school at the age of 14 he became a Caddy at the Camber Golf Course, earning 9d. a round as a junior, later rising to 1/6d. a round as he became more experienced. Each day he travelled to Camber via Rye Harbour by way of the Ferry Boat. The fare for this river crossing was ld. He left caddying and worked as a stable hand for Mr. Hacking, earning the princely sum of 14/- a week.

Famour Rye Barges at The Strand
Famour Rye Barges at The Strand

Harold’s next job was on one of the famous Rother barges. This work consisted of loading ballast on to the barge at Rye Harbour and delivering it to Newenden or Bodiam. The journey from Rye to Bodiam and back sometimes took a week, the old barges were sailing craft and relied on the wind. Sometimes the barges were unloaded at Strand Quay, and it is interesting to learn that 4d. was paid for each ton of ballast delivered here. Other cargoes carried on the sailing barges included timber, Cherbourg stone, granite and manure.

During the Second War he worked for the Gas Board—main laying, and had a hand in the laying of all the gas mains in and around the town. In 1942 he left the Gas Board and became a fisherman. This career he shared with Harry “Crusty” Crampton, an old Ryer whom we would have dearly liked to feature in our personality feature. Alas, Harry Crampton died before the magazine came into existence.

Harold Parsons
Harold Parsons

Harold Parsons and Harry Crampton worked their boat through these dangerous war years, and despite strafing and bombing by the Luftwaffe, their boat, and others like it, helped to ease the nation s food problems by landing many tons of Rye Bay fish. After the war Harold went into a fishing partnership with his brother, and their boat ‘The Arthur’ was well known in local waters in the immediate post war years. Harold told us that during his fishing career fish was always sold at a fixed price of 14/- per stone.

Harold, now retired, lives at Ferry Road with his brother, Harry. He is still a keen gardener, and often goes to watch the fishing boats arrive and depart at the fishmarket.

Both he and his brother keep in close contact with their family and as well as looking after themselves, still find time to join in many local activities.

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

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