The bench saga in the High Street


For weeks one of the benches in front of the Grammar School Record Shop had a health and safety band across it and as is usual in our town rumours and stories circled around, like who decided it was unsafe, what is the Town Council doing, why is it taking so long for something to happen? The funny thing was that visitors and locals didn’t take much notice and sat on the bench anyway.

Eventually both benches vanished, removed by Rother District Council (RDC), and people wondered why both were taken, as one of them was perfectly fine. Following an enquiry from Rye Town Hall, RDC advised that, while they were happy to remove benches regarded as past their useful life span, it was not their policy to replace them.

The benches return – unchanged except for floor-mounting brackets

A couple of days later two white chairs appeared, kindly supplied by Geoff Boudreau of Grammar School Records as some of the bench’s ‘regulars’ were missing their resting place. All this while, our Town Clerk had been busy successfully raising donations for replacement seats and which we understand have been ordered and are due for delivery shortly.

The commemoration plaques have been retained and would be put on the new seats, together with an additional plaque for our late local cartoonist John Izod who was a fixture on one of the benches watching the world go by or waiting for the community bus.

It was more then a little surprising, therefore, to find one morning that the original benches had returned, spruced up a bit and bolted to the ground with new brackets, but otherwise exactly as they had been before removal – one bench in apparent good order and the other one just a little wobbly and probably better avoided by those of a larger frame.

So what happens next? Will the existing benches be removed again when the new ones arrive? Will we have four benches instead of just two (unlikely, not enough room). Will space elsewhere in the Town be found for either the new or old benches? The mystery of the re-appearing benches deepens and we await the next episode in the saga.


Photos by Heidi Foster and John Minter

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  1. The bench repair has been carried out to a very high standard of workmanship and should be good for another forty years.So why replace it?

    Ps.Andy from the jewellers noticed a broken strut on the bench and took it upon himself to put a warning notice and ribbon on it also informing RTC.
    Our thanks to him.
    A Bench Regular.

  2. It was me that decided the bench was unsafe; the first time it was repaired was unsuccessful as all 3 supports had given way within a week, leaving six long screws projecting outwards, and if it had given way then whoever was sitting on it would have been badly injured by the screws in their back as they fell. The second repair was much better; they were not returned in the same condition, they had 3 much stronger supports and thank you to whoever it was that did it.
    You should be able to see the condition it was in when I decided it was unsafe by looking at the image here:
    and here
    which was posted on the 6th of July.
    Since it took so long to get anything properly done about it, I make no apology for putting the sign on it. I am pleased that no-one was injured, even though the warning was sometimes ignored; and that no-one was sued for damages. Health and safety laws are sometimes a good idea.


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