Rye Top 30 of the 20th. Century


Number 3. Alfred Horner

Rye has been very fortunate over the years to produce a variety of fine people who have contributed to the success of this ancient town but in all its history Rye never had a finer champion than Alfred Horner.

Alfred Horner was born in Landgate in 1904 and attended Miss Selman’s private school and later the Mermaid Street School. Soon after leaving school he went to work at Mr. Schofield’s Grocery Store.

From an early age Alfred took a keen interest in this town and the wellbeing of its people. He joined the St. John Ambulance Brigade and was on duty at Camber that terrible day in 1928 at the scene of the lifeboat disaster, he administered artificial respiration on many of the victims in a vain attempt to revive them.

He married Miss Florence Blackhall in 1938 and together they started a newspaper and grocery business in Landgate. Alf was an official on many of the town’s clubs and committees in the years before the Second World War and became a prime mover in reforming and re-activating them when peace returned in 1945. He was a prime mover in organising a giant fete at the Grammar School which raised over £400. It was this money that made it possible for St. John Ambulance to purchase their headquarters in Conduit Hill.

In November 1945 he was elected to the Rye Council and served for 21 years, always being elected ‘top of the poll’. He was a keen Bonfire Boy and on the Carnival and Fete Committees, being secretary of both at the same time.

His council commitments increased over the years but he still carried on his work with the clubs and committees. He presented a trophy to the Sea Cadets which started competitive canoe racing in the area. He worked hard on the Fete Committee and among the celebrities he persuaded to appear were the Dagenham Girl Pipers and Harold Warrender.

In 1959 Councillor Alfred Horner became the Mayor of Rye. For two hectic years Alfred and Florence Horner as Mayor and Mayoress carried out the traditional duties. No request for attending an event was turned down in the whole of the period and yet Alf still found time to continue his good work for endless groups, clubs and committees along with his ‘day job’ of running a busy newspaper and grocery shop.

The workload began to take its toll and by 1962 when he became President of the newly formed Rye & District Movie Society his health was beginning to suffer. He enjoyed the cine club, especially the films made about Rye. He continued his efforts on behalf of Rye and Rye people right up to his death in 1969.

A tribute paid to him in the pages of “Rye’s Own” by another great Ryer Councillor Phil Ellis, encapsulates the man and his life brilliantly.

“With the passing of Alfred Horner, a gentleman and a sportsman in the truest sense, Rye is bereft of one of its most familiar and best loved characters whose love and dedication to the town of his birth was manifest in everything he said and did.

As a member of Rye Borough Council for 21 years and as Mayor in 1959-60 he spent himself in service to the community which, bearing in mind his particular business commitments, was nothing less than sacrificial, and, I believe, unparalleled in the history of our ancient town. All this and more, for in a gentle and kindly manner, he had a hand in every cause, apart from all he did privately for so many people that only he and they knew about.

To me, as to many others, “Alfie” was a friend whose loss we mourn, but there is consolation in the knowledge that his good name and service is recorded in the annals of our town as a memorial for all time.”Rye Top 30 of the 20th. Century

“Rye’s Own” August 2000

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