For quite a while the Executive Committee have been concerned that the Ship Inn sign had seriously weathered such that the sailing ship depicted on the sign could barely be made out any more. In January, taking advantage of the possibility that the new owners might be amenable to financing a new sign, we had a constructive meeting with Ed Gardner, Commercial Director of Hush Heath and requested his help.
It shows how ideas can sometimes bear fruit that a new sign is now in place which depicts the Madeira Pet schooner built in Rye. Hush Heath paid for the sign which was commissioned by the Society. The following piece from the Rye Museum gives an interesting very brief history of the schooner:
Hessel and Holmes built the Madeira Pet, a wine and fruit schooner of 83 tons, 97 feet long, 18 feet beam. She was launched by Don Miguel, Pretender to the throne of Portugal. In 1857, while in Guernsey owner-ship, she became the first ship ever to sail from Europe to Chicago! She sailed there from Liverpool, with 240 tons of cutlery, pottery, paints, glassware and chinaware, and she loaded 4,000 cured cattle hides back, together with a barrel of cured whitefish as a present for Queen Victoria! Her arrival in Chicago, so far from the sea, caused great celebrations in that city.
The Rye Museum has much more information on the history of ship building in Rye since Tudor times. Rye of course being an important ship building town until iron steam ships took over from the sailing boats.