Town Crier – January 2006

By Jim Hollands


Wyn Remembers

I have recently spent a lot of time visiting Wyn Vincent in Rye Memorial Care Centre and reminiscences of old Ryers got our minds working back to those times, prewar for her and post war for me, when this town was so rich in real characters.

Larger than life figures like ‘Bullock’ Robbinson and Joe Woolley sprang immediately to mind. My memories of ‘Bullock’ are rather vague but I do remember he was a tough old boy with a face to match. He lived off the country and supplied the local hotels with fish, mushrooms, rabbits and other game. He

and an associate whose name neither of us can recall also frequented the top of Station Road where they sold a variety of items stored in the inside pockets of their overcoats. Wyn recalls ‘Bullock’ uttering an oath when a jar of marmalade dropped from his coat and smashed on the pavement one Spring day just before the war.

The Mayor of Winchelsea John Dunk with Father Christmas, Wyn
The Mayor of Winchelsea John Dunk with Father Christmas, Wyn Vincent and Michael Foster MP.

Joe Woolley was a tiny man who ran a fruit and vegetable round off a massive hand barrow that he pushed round the town. Joe lived in South Undercliff and kept his barrow under the arches of the railway bridge. Sometimes customers and passers-by would help him get the loaded cart going again when he had got it caught up against the curb. “He never earned much money” said Wyn “But it was an honest living and he was his own boss”. Another character that came up was Bob Woolley the window cleaner. No relation to Joe, but both used hand carts to ply their trade. Bob Woolley’s son, another Bob, was a well known teacher at Rye County Secondary School (now the Freda Gardham). Bob senior once told of a very difficult customer who complained that he had left a smear, he inspected the mark and found it to be in the glass. The customer still insisted it had to be a smear. Bob asked if she would like it to be ‘cured’. On hearing an affirmative he went to his barrow and came back with a hammer. ‘Crash’ the mark was gone – but so was the glass!

That £30,000

£30,000 was the price quoted to put up Rye’s traditional overhead lighting in the High Street, Market Road, Lion Street and The Mint.

It cost just £1000, plus the cost of replacing a few dud bulbs, to put up the overhead lighting in Sandgate.

Hailsham had overhead lighting as did most other small towns and villages throughout Britain. Did any of a comparable size have a quote of this magnitude?

The lighting must be reinstated next Christmas or Rye’s chances of remaining a viable shopping centre could be reduced. Come on Rye Chamber of Commerce, please find a way round this E.U. standard without breaking the bank.

The Plaza

Here we go again. £5,000 consultancy fee paid out of Rye Town Council’s small precept to let ‘experts’ tell us if a pedestrian area in the space between the warehouses at The Strand on the car park site is a viable proposition!

Stop wasting money Councillors and use a bit of common sense. Of course the scheme is feasible, you have already paid to find that out before. What you have got to ask yourselves is, can it be acceptable to the traders who have developed the area into busy antique shopping locality, are they happy to lose it as a car park? Can their trades go on being successful if they have nowhere for their customers to park and collect their furniture and large purchases? If their trades fail what kind of attraction will the plaza be with empty warehouses around it?

If they are happy about the scheme and think it will improve their pursuits you still have an insurmountable hurdle to climb, Rother District Council will not hand it over unless Rye pays the equivalent in car park revenue as rent? Who will be paying this?

Rye Town Councillors should not be wasting their time and money on projects they have no control over, all their efforts at this time should be in pursuing a way to get power returned to Rye, they have a clear mandate for this as was demonstrated at the recent Campaign for Democracy in Rye meeting.

The area splitting formula on offer from Rother points the way but Rye Town Council must insist on half the seats at Rye Town Hall and the Area Committee must be renamed Rye Area Council if they want the public to accept it. Six Councillors from Rye plus the two Rye District Councillors and eight from the villages should make up the area council ensuring that the party political system that dominates the District Council is not automatically transferred to Rye Area Council. There is no room for party politics in local councils. Success demands that all who serve work together, not waste time and cash scoring political points.

Christmas Fun at the Memorial Care Centre

It was fun all day long at Rye Care Centre on the 25 December. Visitors began calling from 10am. M.P. Michael Foster accompanied by Mrs. Foster were among

Wyn Vincent, PCSO Dan Bevan, Mayoress of Rye Jessica Neame, The Mayor
Wyn Vincent, PCSO Dan Bevan, Mayoress of Rye Jessica Neame, The Mayor of Rye Ian Potter and Pat Caister

the early callers, along with The Mayor of Winchelsea, Councillor John Dunk, who is also the speaker for the Cinque Ports this year and The Mayor and Mayoress of Rye, Councillor Ian Potter and Jessica Neame.

Care Centre Nurses with Santa on Christmas Morning
Care Centre Nurses with Santa on Christmas Morning

Among  the other visitors was another local personality, PCSO Dan Bevan. Dan is especially popular with Rye’s senior citizens, many of whom knew him before they came to hospital. Christmas Lunch, Turkey with all the trimmings, was served at 12 noon. Residents spent the rest of the day partying and opening presents.

Rye’s Own January 2006

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