Rye Harbour Image Library | Picture

Picture No:127
Courtesy of:Michael Alford
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Tram Road Concrete Block Works - Lee & Son

This yard was founded in 1859 by Lee & Son to manufacture concrete blocks up to 8 tons for use in port construction, particularly Dover Harbour. The original of this image is in poor condition and thus the image has been partially cleaned up. It shows a remarkably advanced production operation (note the substantial gantry support frames made of timber, sophisticated overhead crane dollies and shutter storage along the side). It was down at the bottom of Tram Road and was fed by tramway from the shingle dredging activities in what is now the Nature Reserve. The product was shipped out along a tramway to the river, passing by the village shop and over what is now the path into Mary Stanford Green, to a staging dock at the Chain Moorings.

The foundations of the works were later used for several houses at the bottom of Tram Rd. It was also the founding impetus for over 100 years of shingle extraction around the village
Picture Added on 09 April 2006.


My g.g.g Grandfather John Rutherford was foreman here. So sad to see Mike Alford has died. He did so much to help my family understand what the Rutherfords did in Rye Harbour 150 years ago. Sorry I never met him.
Added by Joss Martin on 08 September 2010.
After leaving the family home in Hawick in Scotland, John Rutherford (1826-1875) lived and worked in Dover for the Harbour Board. Once Lee and Sons won the contract to build the new Admiralty Pier at Dover, John became foreman of their works at Rye Harbour. He was responsible for the creation of the large concrete blocks that make up Admiralty Pier, and which were cast in the 'Lees stone works' at the west end of 'Tram Road', in Rye Harbour. Mike's photo on this page shows the amazing and advanced works that John managed (and maybe set up). A few of those blocks never made it to Dover, and you've prob seen them on the footpath out to the river/harbour mouth... In a way, and more extraordinary, is that John's home in Rye Harbour survives, and may be the earliest example of a shuttered cast concrete home in Britain, having been made in the late 1850s... The 1861 census shows them living there. Mike felt sure that the man in white trousers and waistcoat toward the picture's centre was indeed John Rutherford himself, but I have no proof of that. My parents knew more having discussed at length with Mike, but they and Mike have all died... Mike did suggest the main records for Lees and their activities at Rye Harbour were held with the Dover Harbour records, but that these were apparently in a locked 'container' or store somewhere in Dover... I doubt that still survives...
After the contract ended, John went to work on the renovations at Felixtowe fort where sadly he died. They had many children (as was John one of many himself), and I am in contact with several of their descendents through genealogy websites, etc..

Added by Joss Martin on 04 May 2013.

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