Concern for future of the Rye Heritage Centre

Rye Heritage Centre
Rye Heritage Centre

The Rye Heritage Centre could be repurposed as Rye Town Council looks to provide services in a ‘more cost-effective manner’.

The cost-cutting measures could put the future of the Rye town model, which is stored at the heritage centre, into doubt.

Richard Farhall, Rye Town Council clerk, said: “The town council is exploring ways it could deliver the services provided from the Heritage Centre in a more cost-effective manner.

“Relocating services and repurposing the Heritage Centre are being considered as part of this review.

“A statement will be released once the council has formed a view on the best way forward in 2020.”

Some residents are concerned the model will be placed into storage, while an information desk will be moved into the town hall and the heritage centre will be closed.

A full council meeting of Rye Town Council will be held at the Town Hall, Market Street, Rye, on Monday (October 28) at 7pm.

At this meeting, the council is expected to receive a verbal overview from Louisa O’Shaughnessy, the heritage centre manager, as well as monitor the centre’s income and expenditure against its budget to September 30, 2019.

Ahead of the meeting, Barbara King, from Saltcote Place, said: “As a local business of 22 years, who relies on this service the way it is, I’m extremely disappointed that it has come to this.

“The Rye town model is very special and people come from far and wide to see it. It is a fixture which adds to Rye’s uniqueness, visited regularly by foreign students and tourists who then spend more money in the town.”

The Rye town model was built by Joy and Ted Harland between 1973 and 1976 who spent three years recreating Rye’s architecture to a 1:100 scale.

It is currently housed in a purpose-built theatre in the heritage centre.

Shows which reflect some of the most dramatic episodes in Rye’s long illustrious history – from its early days as a coastal Cinque Port to a smuggling base of the 18th century, via French raids, monastic intrigue, two royal visits and a notorious local crime – take place each day with dramatic sounds and light effects.

The shows cost £3.50 for adults and £1.50 for children aged five to 15. Children under five watch for free.

A spokesman for Rother District Council said: “Rye Heritage Centre is owned and managed by Rye Town Council and any decision regarding its future is a matter for the town council.”