Monday, April 23 2018

Published on July 13 2017. News
Remembering George Bayntun
George Bayntun at 101 at the tiller of his boat

Remembering George Bayntun

George Sidney Frederick Bayntun, who died on July 5, 2017, aged 105 is remembered.

George Sidney Frederick Bayntun was born at Rotherhithe, London, on October 28, 1911. He had five sisters and two brothers. A few years ago, we took a taxi tour around Rotherhithe. He said it was much better. When he was a boy he said there was poverty, children without shoes, prostitution and drunkenness.

When he left school, George started his career at the Bank of Chile and walked from his home across London Bridge – which gave a view of hundreds of ships that were unloading – that led to the city and the bank. George was inspired to travel and took an apprenticeship in the Merchant Navy and gained his Master’s Certificate. His ship went to China, and with a Chinese crew they sailed up the Yangtze River, among other deep sea voyages. He recounts that across the bridge of his ship was inscribed: “To command, one must learn to obey” George was recognised for his excellent skills at Morse code.

In time, there was a slump in the shipping industry. George took lessons to gain an HGV licence and transported aggregate, etc, for the building of Battersea Power Station. George moved to Jury’s Gap in Camber. His sister, Kitty,and her husband had bought a motor boat and George took tourists out for trips. However, after a short time he was offered a role to help build the electricity pylons which link across the Rye/Romney Marsh, before joining the East Kent Bus Company as a driver, then mechanic and finally foreman of the garage at South Undercliff, Rye, and another on the Ridge at Hastings.

George Bayntun at 97 on his mobility scooter

George met my mother, Sylvia, while living at Jury’s Gap. Her mother owned bungalows on the coast and apparently said to George: “You should marry my daughter.” Sylvia’s father used to collect rabbit skins. My parents were married in 1935 at Coulsden, and lived at one of the coastguard terrace cottages at Jury’s Gap, moving to Rye soon after I was born in 1940.George project-managed and was instrumental in converting the Old Forge in Wish Street into a restaurant, which opened in 1966. Later, he left the East Kent Bus Company to become a partner in the restaurant

George’s big interest was sailing and he was an early member of the Rye Harbour Sailing Club, racing in various sailing dinghies including GP14, Merlin, 470 and Hornet. He also sailed with Jack Merricks in Gadfly, and skippered for Colonel Bolton, who had tin legs, sailing his boat Reduna. Later he played bowls at Rye and Winchelsea and then at the Indoor Rink at Hastings.

My mother Sylvia died in 1994 and my father continued to stay in the same house on his own. He was stoically independent in to his late years, continuing to cycle and drive in to his 90s. George was known about town as “Speedy” when he moved to using a mobility scooter, and would raise concerns locally about pathways which had become ill-maintained or overgrown, in order to ensure access for all. He enjoyed painting at the day centre and remained independent until the point where he needed to be assisted by Country Carers, and moved to a nursing home for the final weeks of his long life, where he became settled. George was known for his dry humour, and made his nurse laugh out loud at one of his jokes within the final hours of his life.

George is survived by my sister Brenda, myself, five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. There is more than a century difference in his and their ages.

Photos: Claire Bayntun

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  1. Simon Parsons says:

    One of Rye’s landmark residents, always had to double check that he wasn’t about to race past on his mobility scooter before pulling out of my driveway ! What an amazing age RIP George

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