More Explosive People

Part 4 – By Arthur Woodgate

I said, in part four, that I would explain why I preferred the Jarretts to the other Rye net makers at that time so here we go. When I walked down The Mint towards Strand, Mr G Jarrett used to call me in his shop and he and his wife had a friendly chat. I never understood why, but, being then a teenager I wondered if it was part of their effort to show that we teens were not to be thinking that the older people were against us. Going on down to the strand there was the Strand Garage run by Jarrett. The Jarrett in Wish Street got me measured for a new three-speed B.S.A cycle, which was delivered for £3.10s. So I had a comfortable ride to and from work from then on.

I don’t know, but it wouldn’t’ surprise me if the families of the great firm of Adams and Jarrett, at Hastings had originated in Rye. Why I say that “Adams and Jarrett” might be of Rye origin is because both families (before my time) were very busy for Rye and many of the town’s mayors have been Jarretts. More of that when I write about Rye Mayors.

      Now for the famous Breeds family.

As John Breeds taught a lot of Rye children, so W.E.Breeds (that’s grandfather to Roger) taught lots of us how to build houses and other Rye’s Buildings which civilisation likes to have. The Breeds family were, (in my time) very much in evidence and I think I’ll deal with William, the founder of the firm of W.E. Breeds and Sons first, then his sons, but not in seniority. For the simple reason, there were lots of them and I couldn’t always know who was doing what and if they were at the top or bottom of the list in age. I didn’t know very much about some of them and they didn’t all go building. W.E. Breeds shut down just as I was coming to the end of the training so a lot of legal work had to be done to wind up many debentures early. That made no difference to me but some of the sons took on some of the activities. I can’t say much more about W.E. except looking from my time and place. He was a typical master builder but did not cross the century line, to bring any special feature into the town. He had a brother who was a crew member of Rye Harbour Lifeboat, he failed to reach the station in time to be on the fatal journey so was not in the crew of the Mary Stanford on that fateful morning, but W.E. was in a bit of a panic until his brother was found.

Now W.E’s sons. I’ll start with Lesley (or Lardy) Breeds, why I don’t know, except he is the first to come to mind, he was a carpenter and spent most of his working time in the joinery and woodworking shop in Southunder Cliff. Although we saw a bit of him on the sites and jobbings.

Lennard Breeds was a plumber and spent lots of his time in the plumbing shop, but one could be surprised, because sometimes one would see two easels with painted name boards on them in there. The firm had a running contract to keep all of the “Style and Winch” pub signs in good order and there were a great many “Style and Winch” in this area in my time, so if many signs had to be made or refurbished then the paint stop wasn’t big enough to contain them all and they spilled over to the plumbers area.

Vic Breeds was either by choice or dictation the chief in the office, so although not exactly a craftsman, made himself well known, and as his father got older he became, in many respects, the boss, and was as well liked as an enemy, but he kept all business well going.

Roger Breeds’ dad, who did not fancy building work, had a useful career in Rye Post Office and it was left to Roger, (who we all still know) to bring that part of the family back into the industry, as a carpenter. More about him when I write about Mayors.

The oldest son of W.E. now comes into view. William was the manager of the Winchelsea branch of the firm, and so that we workers who were not family, found ourselves working for both Williams, and I for one, didn’t like Winchelsea management as well as Rye’s, where we had two general foremen. The plant in Winchelsea had some storage in the famous Winchelsea Cellars, not the most easy to get out or put away. I have written a lot on this firm before. I didn’t however then point out the humour, and this is perhaps a good place to tell a bit. Whilst we Rye employees were working on the new cinema, in Winchelsea they were looking after the big houses belonging to the wealthy people there. Led by William II they were calling us in Rye “Cinema Builders” and other sarcastic jibes. This sort of thing went on for quite a while but eventually we settled down as one firm again.

After becoming a very big the building firm suddenly fell to pieces and although the sons tried in various combinations, it didn’t work. Most of the workers found other jobs. I’ll tell a bit about Roger and John when I write of Rye’s Mayors, but perhaps I had better just mention the famous murder by Breeds the butcher who killed Alan Grebell, Deputy Mayor to one of the “Lamb” Mayors. Some people reckon he was not of this family, as his name was spelt “Breads”. I don’t know for certain, so I’ll leave it to you all to decide. The modern Breeds have all replaced the ‘a’ with another ‘e’ and I don’t blame them.

So this is where I leave the Breeds for the moment and in passing think about another Rye family who had lots of sons. It was about this time I was transferring from The Wolf Cubs to the Boy Scouts. I discovered that the Breeds and Sargents formed the greater part of the Boy Scouts in the “Captain Cory’s Own” 1st Rye Scout troop. Len Sargent was troop leader at that time. I have no doubt that although most of both families were native to Rye. They did help with the outlook of Ryers to “Help others with the result of Man” There were many voluntary organisations and lots of individual helpers. Rye children were guided and taught well, illustrated by the fact that there are three rivers and very few drowning.

I think I have written enough to give all who didn’t know this wonderful little town of ours in those times, a glimpse of its characters and an insight into the quality of the people who live and still live here. I have only brushed the surface of course for if I were to mention everyone I would still be writing this piece in 2050.

I will add just one more name, a man who taught so many Ryers and left a strong impression on every one, Sidney Allnutt was that man. He brought much knowledge and love of sport and his efforts for Rye United Football Club and for that matter the cricketers as well, were unequalled. He helped me to get the schools swimming certificate and taught almost every pupil in the school to swim. He was a school teacher when he came over the county boundary from Hampshire and retired some seventy years later to Winchester where he spent his retirement, returning to Rye to enjoy the reunion of his first class but there are not enough of us left now. About two I think, but the many thousands he taught will never forget him. With Mr. S. H. Allnutt I’ll end this subject but intend now to write a piece about the Rye Mayors in my lifetime 1913 – 2010.

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