At last, after two years of planning permissions, historical surveys, building regulation, Grade-II listed building permissions and the most extraordinary three-week transformation, the Waterworks micropub opened its door on Friday, May 4, 80% completed, as the notice on the door said. Midday was the original time of opening, then 4pm and finally 6pm. What an effort from all concerned!
Situated in Tower Street, the old building was originally used as the Town Pump House, the pumping power probably being generated by a wooden wheel with two horses driving it. It is understood that there are some pieces of the wheel rescued by the Rye museum and in their collection.
In the work on the building, the bases for the two large coppers, each holding 70 gallons of soup, were fully uncovered and can be seen in the bar. These were part of John Symonds Vidler’s soup kitchen opened in 1907, at a time of low employment and hard times. There is a fascinating article on the Rye Museum website.
The large fireplace with the connecting flue to the coppers was also found, the fireplace itself now housing a new wood burning stove, which meant hiring a cherry picker to hoist the chimney lining into place. The beautiful weather this weekend has made it redundant for the moment, but autumn will soon be here.
The last three days have been a triumph for this fledgling business. The place was absolutely packed the first evening, rather to the astonishment of David Roder, who is running the pub. Serving eight local craft beers and six home-brewed ciders, including a strawberry and caramel one, nothing comes further than 20 miles. CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) popped in to see what was going on, and sip their way through the list.
Friends and neighbours, visitors and tourists, have all come through the door to see what has been done and sample the ales. For those not of a beer or cider persuasion, David has gone further than his 20 miles to allow in red, white and rosé wine, fruit juices and prosecco. No lagers.
The atmosphere has been buzzing, helped of course by a fine Bank Holiday. Most of the work has now been finished, with glitches such as the large refrigerated glass doors arriving with no glass, and a lack of signs to the WC. No one minded and a really good time has been had by all. None of it would have been possible without all the people who have worked so hard and believe in its future success.
Photo: Gillian Roder