The 1930’s in Rye

By Daydreamer

A time of hand me down clothing, thick woollen socks darned at the toes and heels, jumpers darned at the elbows, patches in the seat of the trousers and boots with metal studs to make them last longer. (Wonder why we were so happy in those days) Best clothes were for Sunday wear only. Mr. Rhodes in Landgate Square was the local snobby. When taking boots for repair the routine was to bang on the front door of his cottage, walk in and shout hello Mr. Rhodes, pass through the front room in to the kitchen where the old chap would be sitting surrounded by boots, shoes, nails and studs, and assorted lumps of leather. A lovely smell of leather would fill the nostrils. I would sometimes sit and watch for a while as he hammered away.

Sports day in Rye was always something to look forward to, as was the annual carnival, always colourful with the many floats and bands.

On some summer Sunday afternoons a trip to Camber on the Camber tram was a treat with strict instructions from mother to be home in time to clean up and be in the choir at St. Marys for the evening service.

                              St. Mary’s Choir

Being a choir boy sometimes had its rewards. I’m sure there must be others still with us who will remember the Bowen brothers, two elderly choir members who lived in the large house in Ferry Road which later became Rye Council offices and is now the site of the Magdala House Flats. Every Christmas after a morning service the Bowens would invite the choir boys to meet in the large greenhouse in the garden of the house where on a table would be little stacks of coins, each boy would be given one of these stacks as a Christmas gift. The longer serving members would be given a little more than the new recruits. It was a few shillings but seemed like a small fortune.

While in the choir I was invited by one of the Bowen brothers along with John a fellow choir boy (the late Rev. John Bannister) to see the Barber of Seville at the Whiterock Pavilion Hastings, Mother wanted me to look as smart as possible but I didn’t have an overcoat smart enough for such an outing so she took me to Mr. Frank Hall in the high street where I was fitted out with a new one after an agreement had been reached for mother to pay half a crown down with the balance to be paid off at one shilling a week. (she was a lovely mother).

                           Local Characters

Local characters are mainly a thing of the past. A few names from the pre and post war days come to mind. Peachy Paige, little Joe Woolley pushing his fruit and veg cart to all corners of Rye, Crusty Crampton, Jack Wright the Co-Op bread delivery man with his short sharp greeting of YIP which everyone answered with YIP JAK.

There was Charlie Catt the one armed school teacher footballer and cricketer whos aim when throwing a piece of chalk at an unruly pupil was as deadly as any fast bowlers. Mr. Pettit and his railway horse and cart was well known. The horses were stabled at the rear of the Railway Hotel now renamed The Cinque Ports. Horse droppings were collected off the road by whoever got there first with their bucket and shovel. “Good for the rhubarb” dad said.

Frank Taylor was the pianist with the not so gentle touch and a lovely sight was of elderly ladies jug in the hand, making their way to the nearest pub for a pint of mild to take away.

From “Rye’s Own” March 2004

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