The Very Heart of Rye

First Published in the November 2003 Issue of “Rye’s Own”

The old Lion Street School, now the home of the Rye Library and Further Education Centre, has a question mark hanging over it’s future existence.There are proposals for the Library to be re-sited in a new building on the old Central Garage site, there are also plans for moving some of the educational facilities to this new building.

It seems that the Rye Partnership, who own the Central Garage site, have plans to purchase the Lion Street School from Hastings College of Art and Technology

Since 1879, when Charles Pix Meryon gave the building to the Borough of Rye in perpetuity for the education of the children of the town, it has been used for educational purposes in one form or another. For Ryers who grew up here the school became the very heart of the town. Educational classes of all types have been carried on in the building since 1938 when the school was moved to a brand new site in Ferry Road. It became an important part in Rye’s War effort, being used as a meeting up point for Home Guard, Air Raid Wardens and other voluntary services. It was the home of countless money making activities for the Spitfire Fund and other War fund raisers.

In the sixty years since the war virtually every Rye organisation has, at one time or another, been based at the F.E. Centre. Rye Camera Club, Rye Tuesday Painters, The Brownies, Rye Youth Club, Rye Town Band, Rye Movie Society to name just a few. The building has been used for dozens of Educational Classes, Parties, Dances, Film Shows, Pantomimes, Art Shows, Coffee Mornings, Bring and Buy Sales and so many more events that established Charles Meryon’s fine bequest to the town as a Centre that hums with activity every day of the week.

The Rye Partnership are probably best suited to turn the old building into a 21st. Century Centre that will continue to fulfill the needs of the Community, perhaps introducing an element of local art manufacture and sales as well as providing space and time for the Rye clubs and societies to hold their regular meetings and events.

The important thing is that this wonderful building is retained at the heart of local community life.

From the November 2003 Issue of “Rye’s Own”