Calls to save Rye’s ‘historic and important’ water pump

The tower above the water pump in Rye
The tower above the water pump in Rye

Calls have been made to restore Rye’s historic water pump and tower.

Julia Watson, whose family has lived in the town for more than 40 years, said the pump was falling into disrepair and is calling for money to be used to save it.

The building is located in the grounds of St Mary’s Church, in what was known as Pump Street, now Church Square.

Julia said: “My family has lived in Rye since 1974 when my parents became custodians of Lamb House before moving to Church Square. My widowed mother now lives next door to the Rye Water Pump, a beautiful historic construction.

“I am a regular visitor to my mother, so when I came down in spring and saw just how congested the pump’s garden had become with weeds, her wonderful carer and I set about pulling them up and piling them up for removal by whatever authorities keep the conservation areas and buildings of Rye in good order.

“This week, I noticed not only had our weed pile not been removed, but other people had decided the area behind the pump hidden from passing view had been established by our weed pile as a dump for their own vegetation, and two hewn birches had been left there.

“Two of my mother’s carers and I then spent the morning weeding and clearing the pump itself of toadflax, young buddleia and foxgloves and other dislodgers of mortar.

“The pump is in a perilous state. The mortar has become considerably weakened and many of the bricks are now loose. The pump’s roof is also now dropping tiles. There is also a leak at the base of the pump.”

She said the wood steps that originally allowed public access to the interior of the structure were long ago allowed to disintegrate and have since been removed.

Julia added: “The wood surrounds of the pump handle in the road outside the garden are beyond repair.

“This is an important historical structure and one which draws regular groups of tourists to it, and is part of regular formal tours of Rye.

“When my parents first arrived in Rye, maintenance of key historic buildings such as this were the pride and enthusiastic responsibility of the Rye Conservation Society.

“The pump is being allowed to disintegrate without care.

“It is a remarkable achievement that £1.4 million of private money was raised locally to build the Kino.

“However, tourists on whom Rye greatly depends do not come to spend their day in the cinema.

“Can money not be found to restore an important and beautiful structure in this unique historic town before it is too late?”

According to the British Water Tower Appreciation Society, the now Grade II* listed building was built in 1735 as part of a scheme costing £600 to improve the town’s water supply.

The lead pump attached to the tower dates back to 1826.

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