Rye celebrates maritime history

COLOURFUL decorated boats filled Rye's Strand Quay on Sunday as the town celebrated Admiral Lord Nelson's historic naval victory at Trafalgar.

The event was organised by the Boat Owner's Association with the support of the Environment Agency and attracted throngs of people to the water-side.

As well as the flotilla of boats marking the town's long-standing maritime history, visitors enjoyed a barnstorming air display, live music and people dressed in authentic Napoleonic costume.

Organiser Charles Bronsdon said: "It was a fantastic event and better than any of us had anticipated. No-one complained on the day and we had lots of people coming up and asking if we can do it again next year.

"People who have lived in the town for years were saying they could not remember a maritime festival taking place in Rye. It was high time it happened."

He added: "Earlier in the year we wrote to the Town Manager to ask what Rye was going to do to celebrate the Trafalgar bi-centenary. To our surprise we were informed that the town had no plans for any event to take place.

"We felt that owing to the fact that Rye is the only Cinque Port still operating on a commercial basis and also the fact that one of Nelson's fleet ships, the 'Apollo', 18, was hired from Rye , something should be organised."

The prize for best dressed vessel went to a Belgian boat owner who had sailed across the Channel especially to take part.

John Morgan, Waterways Manager for the Environment Agency, said: "We are delighted to contribute to these national celebrations of our maritime history. As a Cinque Port, Rye's history in the defence of England over the centuries is a matter of record and it's important for us to celebrate this. The festival also provided a great opportunity for visitors to come and visit us and find out more about our role as harbour authority."