Rye Chamber of Commerce

I read with interest your Christmas issue of Rye’s Own and was particularly interested in the article on the Rye Trades Exhibition 1959. This is something I had never heard of and I doubt any of the current members would have either. I will indeed bring it up at the next executive meeting in January and see if anyone has any thoughts on the subject.

In the last paragraph of your article you mention that the Chamber has changed its name. This is indeed true but unfortunately you have it the wrong way round. Rye Chamber of Commerce was formed in 1948 its first Chairman being J W Foster but at some time during the 50’s, I have not been able to ascertain exactly when, the name was changed to Rye Chamber of Trade. I also have little idea of the reason for the change except that they may have wanted to dis – affiliate from the National Chambers of Commerce for some reason.

The Chamber went through many up’s and down’s during those years and I think one of the lowest low points must have been when the entire Christmas lighting display was deemed illegal over night because of a change in European legislation. Over the last few years we have invested in more and more lighting until this year we have even been able install lighting in Cinque Ports Street and the two main gateways to the town, I think you will agree with me that the display outside the Post Office, if we are still allowed to call it that, looked particularly lovely.

Due to this and other projects in which the Chamber has become involved, such as the Shop Watch radio scheme, the amount of money passing through its accounts has become quite substantial. It was therefore decided that to ensure accountability and protection to its members the Chamber should become a Company Limited by Guarantee. This it did last year. As the interests represented by the Chamber are now much wider than just the towns shop keepers, although this obviously remains one of its prime responsibilities, it was also decided to return to the old name of commerce and to reflect a greater geographical area the full name is now Rye and District Chamber of Commerce.

Looking to the future, the Chamber is very much involved with the Town Centre Management project and has indeed been working towards it for more than three years now. If the Town of Rye is to survive and prosper and I mean all the people of Rye not just the shops and restaurants then it must face the future with a modern progressive approach. Looking back to the past with inevitable rose coloured spectacles is great fun and we as much as anyone else enjoy a little reminiscing but we must learn from what went before and not rely entirely on the past to plan for the future; there lies the road to ruin.

Whether we like it or not tourism is by far our biggest industry and therefore directly and indirectly our biggest employer. We also live among a very mobile and often fickle population and the competition for Rye comes from towns perhaps fifty, perhaps a hundred miles and more away. Perhaps from the entire continent. To be able to compete on level terms with these towns and indeed the ever growing number of out of town centre’s, thereby safeguarding and developing this precious commodity, then we cannot afford not to take a modern pro-active approach. This approach must include the proper management of the town centre and its environment for all its users.

To return to the subject of Christmas lights for a moment, if any of your readers would like to contribute to the lighting fund their contributions would be most welcome as each one of the new lights cost in excess of £300 to erect. Any donation should be sent to : Rye Chamber of Commerce c/o W J Bennett, 99 High Street, Rye, TN31 7JN.

If you would like any more information either on our Christmas activities, Town Centre Management or indeed the Chamber in general then I would be only too pleased to supply it. Frank May. Chairman New Organisation for Rye in Bloom In January a new independent committee took over the running of the Rye In Bloom Competition from the Town Council. In addition this enthusiastic group is already discussing plans to enter South East in Bloom in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee.

A successful entry in the South East in Bloom Competition would have tremendous benefits for local businesses. Please call Lorna on 229808 for further information.

From the February 2002 issue of Rye’s Own

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