Keeping Watch in 1973

“Keeping Watch”

Passengers, aboard an ocean liner, pass their days -happy or anxious, busy or idle – not much concerned with what goes on “below decks”. Enough, that there is a crew who presumably know their business and destination, and watch-by-watch through the twenty-four hours get on with the job.

Rye's Own - The First of a New Era
Rye’s Own – The First of a New Era

Today, New Year’s Day 1973, RYE’S OWN has a new helmsman. Just for today let us drop the tradition­al editorial anonymity of “We” and get down to personalities.

Today Jim Hollands hands over the wheel of RYE’S OWN to a new and untried skipper. I have asked him to put down his thoughts at this time on paper, and you will read them below. Typically, he pays tribute to all who have helped him over the last seven years; and leaves his own magnificent contribution to be read, literally, between the lines.

I shall take steps to remedy this in another issue, since it has become a happy tradition for RYE’S OWN to give periodic “Profiles” of eminent Ry-ers; and who will deny Jim – as all know him – his own eminence?

For now all I will say is that Jim is alive and well and living in Camber; and although a little bird tells me that his weekend eyes are fixed on the soggy hills of distant Cambria. he is still very much with us.

I was touched, and indeed honoured, when Jim invited me to take on this task, and in the end my enthusiasm conquered my diffidence. Diffidence, chiefly because I am not by birth a Ry-er. Obviously I did not make my wishes clear at the crucial time!

What I do claim, with so many of my fellow citizens who labour under the same disadvantage, is that my heart is here. I fell in love with Rye twenty years ago and, although at once swept away by an eventful career, first to the sea-rimmed marshes of Guyana – its feathery sugar-canes, in lieu of woolly sheep, its dikes, sluices and “innings” hauntingly reminiscent of Romney Marsh in their green fecundity -thence to the steamy jungles of Nigeria and the City of London, I have never let go of Rye, nor of my determination to finish up there.

So here I am at last, “keeping watch” in my turn at the wheel of RYE’S OWN. The course runs “Steady Ahead”.

I see this magazine as existing to entertain, to inform, and to serve the interests of the whole community and neighbourhood of Rye. I want to find space, over the year, to reflect something of all the facets which make up the life of Rye, not forgetting the villages who look to her, with her sis­ter town of Winchelsea, as a focus.

Changes will be, as they should be, gradual. Probably nobody will notice them, thus demon­strating that Editors are not all that important.

I firmly believe that a special place deserves a special magazine, and thanks to Jim Hollands and you, our readers, and not least to our faithful Advertisers whom I hope you will support, Rye has her own magazine. This said, I will ‘pipe down’ and resume my proper, and anonymous, duties “below decks”

A Happy New Year to you all!

Christopher Davson. Editor.

“Handing Over”

It has been my privilege, for the past seven years, to Edit and produce “Rye’s Own” – a job that has brought me a great deal of pleasure and a feeling of achievement. That the magazine has flourished and prospered is due to the tremendous support given by advertisers and readers and the enthusiastic efforts of staff and’contributors. This for me, as I relinquish the Editorship, is a time of reflection over those past seven years. I invite you to share a few of those reminiscences with me.

First I recall the people. Though the full-time staff has never numbered more than two at any one time, there has always been many people involved with the production of each issue. Part time helpers, Saturday girls, Summer Reporters, regular contributors and all the people involved with the production of “Rye’s Own” when it was printed at Adams’.

During seven years only three girls have been employed full time – each one of them has played a big part in the production of the magazine.

Elaine Peprell came to “Rye’s Own” at the start, straight from school and was immediately plunged into the deep end, reporting, collecting advertising layouts and all the general office duties that go with the production of a regular publication. Elaine worked with me for two years and proved to be a valuable and capable girl. She was especially popular with the advertisers, always very much aware of their require­ments, nothing was too much trouble for her.

Janet Aust joined “Rye’s Own” during 1967 as a Darkroom Assistant. Janet soon became much more than an assistant. Within three months she was able to operate the darkroom efficiently and her ability did not end there. She took an interest in nearly all aspects of the magazine’s production, becoming a fine photographer in the process. When Elaine left the magazine at the end of 1967 it was decided that two girls on a full time basis was a bit ambitious – so Janet took on her shoulders even greater responsi­bilities and more jobs – it was a good thing for “Rye’s Own” that she had the enthusiasm to carry them out successfully. “Rye’s Own” suffered a great loss when Janet Aust left at the end of 1968 to marry her airman.

lt was six months before a new full time girl could be found to replace Janet. Andrea Jennings came straight from school and for the third time I was lucky enough to have working with me a young lady who was able to adapt to the many different jobs required of her. Andrea became highly proficient at type-setting, plate making and typographical work. She was soon a ‘hit’ with the advertisers and has organised the ‘Ad’ section of the magazine almost exclusively for the past two years.

During the six month period at the beginning of 1969 when I was unable to find a full-time replace­ment for Janet Aust, two part-timers filled the gap. “Nan King” and Maryanne Simmington. “Nan” wrote some of the best articles ever produced in the mag. and Maryanne was a brilliant office organiser.

One other person whom I must not forget is Mrs. Joan Munn. Joan helped the magazine in the early stages. She set up the office system and wrote innumerable articles to fill the seemingly endless acres of “white spaces” on our planning sheets.

Then there were the “Saturday girls” — There has been an almost continuous run of them. As one left school to start a full time job she introduced a new girl to take her Saturday job. First there was Diane Cutting, then Maureen Allen followed by Lynn Thomas and then Alison Purrington. Diane and Maureen have both given quite a lot of their own time to the production of “Rye’s Own” since. Their help has been much appreciated.

Heather Bottomly and Marilyn Purrington are two more people who I must include on my list. Neither was employed on the staff of the magazine, but both worked handy enough to be coerced into helping. I never heard either of them complain. Andrew Page was our “Summer Reporter” in 1969 — He wrote some very good articles. Peter Steeds was with us for a brief period. His own special brand of humour and unlimited optimism was all that saw us through the first hectic period when we first printed the magazine on the premises. Printing costs had crept up over the first two years of production, so to keep down the price of the mag. and it’s advertising space it was decided to buy a printing machine and carry out the whole process ourselves. Peter’s inspired idea to search the huge pile of spoiled sheets to find enough pages to make up the quota for that first “home made” effort (Vol. 3 No. 4, you may still have one, they’re very rare!) saved the day. I still recall the sight of Peter, all six foot six of him, buried up to his neck in paper, handing out a page at a time to Janet who took it, grinned and stapled up another “Rye’s Own” to go on the pile.

On another occasion “Nan King” helped with a home made “powder squeezer” when I attempted to print the cover on glossy paper. The idea was to puff the special granulated particles on to each sheet as it was printed so preventing the next sheet to falling flat and smudging it. It worked alright but Nan ended up looking rather like a snowman. That evening she met a girl friend reporter from the Daily Express at a Hunt Ball. “I’m a reporter too” said Nan “But I’ve been working more on the production side today!”

There have been many highlights, among them the visit to the town by H.M. The Queen and H.R.H. Prince Phillip in 1966, when, I believe, “Rye’s Own” carried a set of photographs that rival any shots taken of the Royal Party during their entire tour of the South East. There were extra copies of this “Souvenir Issue” printed. Some are still available. (Vol. 2 No. 11). Copies of most of the 68 issues published since 1965 are still available though some were complete sell-outs. The Camber Tram Issue (Vol. 2 No. 11) was “sold out” in two weeks. However, the article was reprinted (Vol. 4 No. 11) and copies of this issue are still available. Other sell-outs were the “Miss Rye’s Own” issues of 1968 (Vol. 3 No. 9) and 1969 (Vol.4 No.9).

Regular contributors have included “Rya” who has been responsible for the “Summary History of Rye” of which “The Camber Tram” was just one chapter, “Jimper” who’s jottings have brought to light many country customs I personally had never heard of, Charlie Coleman of “Diz & Den” fame and the late Miss Dora Sims.

Miss Sims was the originator of our “Down Rye Way” series. She wrote up many local personalities for this feature, besides providing innumerable other articles and reports. Her passing, earlier this year, was a great loss to Rye and “Rye’s Own”.

Another regular contributor has been Mr. Roy Miles. Many of his excellent photographs have been printed in our pages. Roy has helped in other ways too, he fitted out the original darkroom.

Some of my memories are tinged with sadness. Seven years is not a long period, but during that time I had to write the obituaries of some very fine people. Among them, Alfred Homer, the most kind and sincere man I have ever met, Jim Foster, who gave me much good advice and practical help, Mr. Maxwell (“Max”) the “Sussex Express” journalist who “adopted” Rye as his home, and Jack Merricks, a fearless man whose endless exploits against petty bureaucracy and injustices were always in the news. He probably cut as many miles of red tape in his life as did Winston Churchill.

My Father, who alas, died in August 1969, was a partner in “Rye’s Own” — Without his help and encouragement the project would have never got under way.

“Rye’s Own” policy has revolved around ten aims which were stated at the outset.

1. To support Rye, its people and their activities.

2. To look at the new things without forgetting the old.

3. To advertise Rye.

4. To give a good platform for local trade advertise­ments.

5. To report local events from an unbiased standpoint.

6. To give space to any local organisations to air their views.

7. To provide a medium through which local writers, artists and photographers can express their talent.

8. To publish other books and booklets of general Rye interest.

9. To support any organisation or group who bring about the revival of a Rye Carnival (without affecting the traditional Rye Fawkes Pageant).

1O.  To support any organisation or group who declare an interest in providing a Community Centre in Rye. As I read down the list I think I am justified in saying that these “Commandments” have been adhered to. I hope the readers agree and that they have got as much pleasure out of reading “Rye’s Own” as I have had in producing it. My association with the magazine will not be severed immediately. Chris Davson, the new Editor and Proprietor has asked me to help in the production of the next two issues, and I hope to be a contributor in some form or other in future issues.

Jim Hollands

“Rye’s Own” January 1973

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