A walk around Rye recalls the shops that used to be here in the late 50s and early 60s when you could buy almost anything from a tap washer to bicycles, and most electrical items, including TVs and washing machines, as well as clothes.
Walking from Banisters Corner (at the junction of Ferry Road and Cinque Ports Street), which was a DIY store, a few doors along was Mr Holland’s electrical shop. That’s where we had our first black and white TV for about 3 or 4 shillings a week. Next was a fish shop and Mr Salmon was the owner – and the shop was obviously called Salmon’s fishmonger.
The next shop was Stocks carpet and furniture shop, next was Vidlers estate agents (now Rush, Witt and Wilson estate agents) and then the Post Office depot on the corner.
From there, looking to my right, was Winter’s Dairy, a butchers shop and a hairdresser (Blacklocks) and on the corner where Jempson’s tea rooms are now, was a sweet shop and café, a family run business owned by Mr John Easter.
Garage fire left a gap
Just across Market Road was Seeboard (South Eastern Electricity Board), a shop where you could buy almost any electrical components you wanted. Opposite that was the pub, I believe in those days it was called The Railway Hotel, the Cinque Ports as it is today, then the Baptist church. Opposite the church was a garage, but sadly a fire destroyed the premises.
Where Rye Retreat is, that was the Co-Op stores, then the Cinque Ports Hotel (hit by a bomb during the second world war) now the police station. Further along on the left hand side a clothes shop, then the Regent Cinema, very popular in its day, next to the cinema was another electrical shop and the owner was a Mr Vic Moore. Then Ashendens, gents hairdresser. I’m not too sure of the next few shops, but there was an off licence on the corner.
Leaving Cinque Ports Street and going up Tower Street, to your left the old pumphouse toilets (now the Waterworks micropub) then I believe Bournes removal company, then the next building was, I think a dentist, (now Jane’s Stitches) then Deans Rag Book factory employing many Rye people.
Over the road from Deans’ a fish and chip shop called George’s Cafe, and up further at the top of Tower Street was a confectioners, owned by a Mr Luck.
Turning left going down Landgate was Bragg’s antiques, next came Burnhams builder’s office and then further down an espresso coffee shop and a hairdresser owned by a Mr Osborne. A few other shops and then the British Legion in King Street, also the Labour Exchange (now Eagle House). Past that was Burnham’s Yard and also Bournes Removals warehouse.
A small Electric Cinema
Back into Landgate and heading towards Hilder’s Cliff going up on the left a little cobblers shop, and in between was the small Rye Electric Cinema, then the Queens Head then on to Higgins’ fruit and vegetable shop. Next door was where I was employed as a paper boy, the owner was mayor of Rye at one time, a Mr Horner, and later Reg and Chris Emson.
Next door was Bryan’s who sold toys and many other items including fireworks and next door to Bryan’s was I believe the Halifax Building Society, now GMP Accountants, then Thompson’s bakery owned by Mr Webb. Next and last shop coming up Landgate was Mr Wicken’s shoe shop, who also owned another shoe shop in Landgate.
Going up to Hilder’s Cliff on the right hand side was the Collegiate School, then into Rye High Street, first on the left hand side was Woolgars Jewellers (now Gilfrins). Following on, there was Doctor Parkes’ surgery at 112, the Rye borough engineer’s office (now the Pette shop) at 111, then the Red Cross, Britches and Rivers men’s outfitters (now a sweet shop), Casa Conti Italian Restaurant (now Hayden’s), and the North Kent Building Society (now Rye Art Gallery). Then came Bunty’s sweet shop (now tea rooms), and Hamilton’s materials and furnishings shop.
Across East Street was the Old Apothecary chemists, Rye Goldsmiths and an off licence nearby. Next was Ashbee’s butchers, and Bennett’s men’s outfitters. Across Lion Street was the George Hotel, John Dennis ironmongers, and Roseanne dress shop. Somewhere near was a Victoria Wine shop, then Adin Coates ladies undies and haberdashery, Miller and Macer’s delicatessen (now Nationwide), and the Hastings and Thanet Building Society.
Continuing along there was the International Stores now (the closed) Edinburgh Woollen Mill, Frank Golden’s clothes shop, and the National Westminster Bank. Across West Street was Lloyds Bank and Heringtons Solicitors at Bank Chambers. A little further down into the Mint a coffee bar which had skiffle group playing regularly – I think it was called The Playing Card coffee shop – and the Simmons guest house.
Going back to the start of the High Street at No 1 and coming back down the right hand side Ellis Brothers ironmongers, which became Ironmongers Extraordinary (and is now Puckhaber Antiques), Merryments wool shop, then a restaurant (can’t quite remember the name) then on to Monastery Restaurant, Customs House, Adams Stationers (now a Turkish cafe/restaurant).
All change in the High Street
Crossing over the top of Conduit Hill came Langtons Furniture (now Adams), and Midland Bank (later HSBC and now closed) then the Rye Mutual Building Society, that’s where we got our first mortgage from. Next was Waghorn’s fruit and veg shop followed by Frank Clarke hairdresser, and Rye Conservative Club in the old Grammar School, now Grammar School Records.
Along from the old Grammar School was a doctor’s surgery (now The Mariners tearooms), then the Home and Colonial / Lipton’s grocers, my first employment after leaving school; then the Post Office, (now Boots the Chemists), Stock’s tobacconist (now Penny Royal), and Freeman Hardy and Willis shoe shop.
The White Vine Hotel (formerly Holloway House and now the Whitehouse) was next to Boots the Chemists, then Threshers (up steps), now Rye Book Shop, and Eden’s florists. Cross over Market Road to a second hand book shop, Mence Smiths, Dewhurst butchers shop – Dewhurst butchers again, they had two shops next to each other.
Barclays Bank now closed was next to Woolworths (now Rye’s Library). Continuing into the Mint, there was another doctors’ surgery, the Old Bell Inn pub, the Copper Kettle tearoom, Dunks the greengrocers, a fish and chip shop and an antique shop.
This walk along Cinque Ports Street, Tower Street, Landgate and Rye High Street was remembered by me and my wife, Pauline and my brother, Ernie Vicarey and his wife Yvonne.
No doubt we’ve missed several shops out, but this is what we could remember.
Image Credits: Kenneth Bird , Nick Forman .