Despite assurances by our district councillor Lord Ampthill that Rother District Council’s own conservation officer Diana Russell and English Heritage had been consulted and were happy that this week’s cleaning of the Grade 1 listed Landgate Arch was in a safe pair of hands, the industrial cleaners appointed by Rother departed with their large yellow tanker, high-pressure hose and lances and tons of bird shit with evidence of their assault on this important heritage lying around under the arch.
Two blocks of masonry were left behind on the pavement (creating a hazard to pedestrians at a very dangerous narrow point in the road) having fallen from the defenceless building, which had been subjected to nearly three days of violent attack by high-pressure water hoses. Who is to say what damage has been done to the structure inside? Rother wouldn’t know since they left the work unsupervised by anyone with knowledge or experience of dealing with a 600-year-old building! And the industrial cleaners’ expertise is in dispersing giant fat balls in the sewers and chemical spills and not medieval listed buildings – indeed, I gather the operatives had never worked on one before!
This has proven to be an object lesson in how not to look after an historic monument and once again an outside body, in this case Rother, has not just completely failed to protect Rye’s heritage but has been responsible for actually damaging it.
Andy Stuart is a member of Rye Conservation Society and a committee member of the Rye Arts Festival