By Arthur Woodgate
When I awoke on 13th June 1930, my bedroom window was full of flame (A sight not unusual ten years later). This was out beloved Windmill, by the River Tillingham, on fire. A different sight than that on the Rye’s Own Christmas card. By the time I dressed and got out to be on hand should any help be needed the mill was completely alight with its out line shape still showing through the flames, but seconds later it seemed to twist and collapse.
Our 15 voluntary fireman were there, so let us reflect on what that meant, someone had to go to the Town Hall and push the alarm to get them mustered and directed to the incident with their then compared to now, crude pump and hose. However in view of the fact that burning debris was flying about, no other building was damaged and nobody was seriously hurt. I only remember one fireman with a cut finger, which I treated.
The hero of the day in my opinion was France Rook, the father of the Rook family we older Ryers grew up with was manager of the Gasworks. He thought the Mill was to close to his bigger gasholder for comfort, so he climbed to the top of it armed with a thermometer, pick and matches had he thought the great tank was getting too hot he would have pierced it and lit a gas jet, to prevent it exploding and blowing up half of the town. Fortunately this didn’t happen.
Because of the historical importance, the Mill had to be rebuilt ones mind boggles at the thought of maybe protesters at the time of its original erection and reflects on what protection will be put on the present controversial power windmills in a hundred years time and if they will be used on cards and calendars.
“Rye’s Own” January 2003
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