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  • Writer's pictureSim Elliott

25 View of Rye Harbour

This post contains photographs of the landscape and built environment of Rye Harbour; the birds of the Harbour Nature Reserve are recorded in This post contains images from the Nature Reserve, and images from the village of Rye Harbour, and some of the industry along the Rye Harbour road.

Rye Harbour is in East Sussex, near the estuary of the River Rother. Rye Harbour is located two miles downstream of the town of Rye. In the village there are yacht moorings; a small fishing fleet; some commercial shipping; and a lifeboat station. There is also a holiday village called Frenchman's Beach. An industrial estate straddles the road to Rye Harbour from Rye. It contains warehousing, light manufacturing and an oil refinery.

Rye Harbour village dates from the early nineteenth century,

"having been built on an extension of the shingle beaches, progressively deposited by the sea over the last 800 years. These deposits limit access to the original open medieval port of Rye, now two miles (3 km) inland. The village has one of the chain of Martello Towers constructed during the Napoleonic Wars; it was built on the beachline of the time. The beachline has now advanced a further kilometre southward. Its geography has thus been shaped by its position at the frontier with the sea and at the frontier of the United Kingdom.

The initial establishment was that of a company of dragoons in 1805, followed shortly after by the first fishermen's huts and the building of the Martello Tower (1809–10). As the Napoleonic wars ended so the smuggling trade which had long flourished all along the south coast again increased in scope and intensity, leading to the establishment of the Coast Blockade. A watch house was built about 1825 to provide shelter and support for the blockade detachments and still stands, complete with the flagstaff for signalling to shipping.

The harbour is also known for the tragedy of the Mary Stanford lifeboat. At 6:45 am on the morning of 15 November 1928, the Mary Stanford from the Rye Harbour RNLI station responded needlessly to a Latvian steamer in distress. The crew of the Mary Stanford did not know that the vessel had already been rescued by another lifeboat and, in heavy rain and seas, all of the seventeen-man crew of the Mary Stanford were drowned. A memorial service in honour of the Mary Stanford and its crew takes place every year in the village." Rye Harbour - Wikipedia



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