Ryer Arthur celebrates a century in town he loves

Arthur Woodgate 100
Arthur Woodgate 100

BORN and bred Rye man Arthur Woodgate is still going strong at the age of 100.

Arthur, who is something of a local legend, celebrated the landmark at Rye Hospital this month.

As a volunteer for the St John Ambulance, Arthur was one of the men tasked with the terrible job of picking up the bodies of the men lost in the Mary Stanford lifeboat tragedy on November 15th 1928.

It remains the worst disaster in the history of the RNLI.

Arthur attended two Rye schools at Lion Street and Mermaid Street, which no longer exist.

A skilled brick-layer by trade, Arthur was involved in the construction of the Regent Cinema in Rye, and repairing the local houses damaged during World War II bombing raids. Arthur even built his own bungalow in Peasmarsh.

Arthur’s community involvement apart from St John Ambulance was as a magistrate and, on a much broader scale, he was an extremely active and involved member of the Trades Union movement, meeting several members of the top level of unions both in this country and abroad.

Arthur even travelled to Russia while the Iron Curtain was still in place.

A regular correspondent and contributor to the press, Arthur’s reminiscences of life as a Ryer have been published over many years and collected in local history books which provide insight to a forgotten way of life in Rye.

Ann Hostler, from Rye Memorial Hospital, said: “His birthday party was a very jolly affair,.

“Clare the hospital chef baked a special cake, and local artist John Izod drew a unique card for Arthur, showing episodes from Arthur’s life.”