Town Crier April 2004

Library Plan “Unimaginative and Badly Designed”

March opened with a furore centred on the proposed new building for Rye Library. Councillor Sam Souster firing shot after shot in defence of the revised plan for the building, and telling the objecting Rye Councillors that time was running out if the grant for the site was to be obtained.

The objections of the “Friends of Rye Library” group on the grounds that the building planned was “unimaginative and badly designed” hold some credence, especially in the light of a letter published in the Rye Observer from eminent Rye architect Eric Le Fevre whose advice to the lead authority is to “Scrap the scheme and employ a good architect to produce a new building which will be a credit to them and appreciated by everyone who lives in, works in or enjoys visiting Rye”.

Whilst this row rages, in the back of my own mind I am wondering about the fate of the old Lion Street School, home of the present Library and a host of classes and local organisations. This building, given in perpetuity for the education of the children of Rye by John Meryon, is now in the care of Hastings College of Arts and Technology. Already they have tried to sell off the site for housing. This plan was thwarted when a preservation act was put on the building but they will still sell it off and they may get the chance once the Library has been moved out.

Now is the time for Rye Town Council and the Rye Partnership to come together and sort out a plan that keeps the building working for Rye as John Meryon would have wished. Perhaps Dot and Ben Sharp’s idea could be adopted. They suggest it could be used as an arts and crafts workshop where local Painters, Sculptors, Potters and other craftsmen can produce and sell their work and hold workshop classes and exhibitions.

The Partnership might find that their work in the town was more appreciated if they were seen to be hand in glove with Rye Town Council and their ideas gave a clearer idea of what was going to happen to buildings left vacant by their projects.

While on the subject of Rye Partnership, who after all do have an amazing capacity to raise cash for Rye Town projects, I would suggest that to get almost the whole of the population behind them they come up with a scheme, again in conjunction with Rye Town Council, to purchase and convert the whole of the Ferry Road School site and the adjoining surplus railway land into a fine community area, not to include houses, with parkland for picnics, children’s play area, including skateboard facilities, cycle path and walkway from Ferry Road to Military Road, through the spare bridge span. There could be space for a Doctor’s Surgery, Scout Hut, community building for club use etc. No doubt there are many other ideas readers can think of. All I know is that this is one of the last open areas left around the town and once it is sold off by East Sussex County Council for building it will be lost to the town forever.

Musician Admirer of Rye

It has been brought to my attention that an award winning composer, Georgina Brazier-Potter, who writes music inspired by the town of Rye has been trying to get her music premiered in Rye. Four pieces “Church Square Rye, at Christmas”, “Mermaid Street”, “The Ship Inn and Strand Quay” and “From Rye Harbour to the Sea”, mainly for cello and piano are highly relevent to the town. The whole making up a five movement suite.

It seems to me that this might be a very suitable offering for the Rye Festival.

I will be pleased to pass details on to the Festival organisers or any other organisation willing to air this work inspired by our town.

Wealth of Talent in Rye

Over the years Rye has been the home of many writers with great ability. Henry James, E.F. Benson, John Ryan, Joseph Conrad, Malcolm Saville, Monica Edwards, Montgomery Hyde, Radclyffe Hall, Berni Fiddimore, Rumer Godden and Russell Thorndike to name just a few. Now a new home bred talent has arrived.

Sue Mackay
Sue Mackay

Sue Mackay was signing her first children’s book, “Dustumust” at the Martello Bookshop on Saturday 13 March. Sales were brisk and Sue is hoping that her book, which is aimed at the under tens, becomes a best seller. A full review appeared in last month’s “Rye’s Own”.The Martello Bookshop deserve a word of praise. They support all local authors, encouraging signing of new releases at their High Street premises.


Coffee Shop makeover

Talking of shops, have you been to Jempson’s Coffee Shop since its refurbishment? What a difference. The whole job was done in just a few day, the builders and fitters worked through the night to get it open on the advertised date.

What a terrific job they have made of it. The whole place is lovely and clean and the girls have new white outfits with very fetching hats. Well done the Jempson Brothers.

Jempsons Coffee Shop and Bakery after its makeover
Jempsons Coffee Shop and Bakery after its makeover
Always a smile from the Jempson girls
Always a smile from the Jempson girls

On the subject of Jempson’s, there always seems to be something going on at their Peasmarsh Superstore. One day last month I was greeted by a clutch of owls greeting everyone at the door.

They came from the Tomar Owl & Bird Sanctuary where organiser Tom Tyrrell told me there are no less than 900 birds, mostly

Beverley Delafield from the Tomar Owl and Bird Sanctuary with a rescued
Beverley Delafield from the Tomar Owl and Bird Sanctuary with a rescued

casualties brought in for treatment. Many cannot be returned to the wild and good homes are sought for owls etc. The Sanctuary is at Cheeseman’s Green, Mersham, Ashford TN25 7HX where any donations are gratefully accepted.


Members and friends of the Secondary Class of ’52 who graduated and became the Technical Class of 1953 at Rye Grammar School are holding a Reunion at the Riverhaven Hotel on Thursday 28 October this year. Those interested in helping with the arrangements and contacting lost souls should contact myself or Jo’ Vincent on 01797 223000 or 222420. If this event is as successful as the one held in 2001 it will be quite a do.

It is a real experience to see folk you have not laid eyes on for 50 years. There are several coming this time who did not get to the last event, which was arranged in rather a hurry. This time there is plenty of notice and already we are getting bookings from as far away as America.

Rye In Bloom Clean-up Initiative

Last year’s efforts by Rye folk, led by the Rye in Bloom Committee have resulted in an invitation to compete in “Britain in Bloom 2004”. To win this prestigious event will need the help of everyone in the town.

Throughout the weeks leading up to the event the Committee are organising clean-up operations of untidy areas besides planting a new garden in Watchbell Street, and organising the Plant Fair at the Community Centre on Sunday 15 May.

Rye in Bloom Team Clean-up

A new venture is the Rye in Bloom Water Festival on Saturday 22 May at the Strand Quay. This will be a celebration of Rye’s Water Conservation, Lifestyle, Leisure, Work and Pleasure. At this event there will be demonstrations by the Fire Service and visitors will learn about nature conservation, water saving, sea and river fishing, sailing and cruising, the Romney Marsh, drought gardens and much more. There will be live music and admission is free.

Volunteers to help Rye win “Britain in Bloom” are desperately needed. Phone Lorna Hall on 229808.

“Rye’s Own” April 2004

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