Worthing

Worthing of which Goring-by-Sea is a part

Worthing is a much younger place than Goring, becoming fashionable in the 18th Century when the daughter of King George III, Princess Amelia, went there to enjoy the health-giving benefits of its bracing sea air.Later Princess Charlotte, daughter of the Prince Regent gave Worthing her seal of approval and it was granted town status in 1803.

It gained further recognition when Oscar Wilde wrote his most famous play, The Importance of Being Earnest, while on holiday there, taking the names of several local places for his characters.

 

Though the largest town in West Sussex, Worthing has tended to live in the shadow of its trendy neighbour Brighton. Despite having one of the largest populations of retired people, the butt of unkind jokes about Costa Geriactica, or God’s waiting room, Worthing has a growing number of booming high-tech firms and has become a leading centre for computer entrepreneurs starting new businesses.

Worthing was voted No 1 for company profitability in a survey of 235,000 companies in 280 towns for both 1998 and 1999. But despite this new image as a sort of Silicon Valley-on-Sea, the news was greeted by one resident with a relaxed shrug. “It is just a nice place to visit and to live”.

Worthing now has

  • 7 arts and crafts shops
  • 18 banks and building societies
  • 14 charity shops
  • 8 bookshops
  • 33 clothing/ladies fashion shops
  • 6 computer shops
  • 4 florists
  • 30 hairdressers
  • 8 health and beauty salons
  • 10 opticians
  • 15 furniture shops
  • 2 interior design shops
  • 15 jewellers
  • 5 bookmakers
  • 60 restaurants and cafes


Worthing Pier - 13KB

Worthing Pier

For those that like the high-life, Worthing is just two miles down the front. The pier has slot machines, and variety shows, and all the space you need for fishing or sitting in the sun. A band plays at the nearby Lido.

 

Worthing Pier was opened on 12th April 1862, following the success of Brighton Chain Pier which was the first in the world. Worthing Pier was among the first few in the UK. The pavilion at the seaward end was opened in 1889. By 1897 a busy steamship service was operating between the piers along the south coast, and in later days there was a cross channel service.Then on Easter Monday 23 March 1913 an 80 mph gale washed the decking of the pier away, leaving only the end of the pier and its pavilion. But the pier was a major tourist attraction and the council quickly rebuilt it and it was reopened on 29 May 1914.

Worthing Borough Council eventually decided buy the pier, ‘rust and all’, from the private Worthing Pier Company. The southern pavilion was proving to be one of the highspots of the town. To meet the demand for a bigger and better hall, the new Pier Pavilion at the shore end was opened on 25 June 1926. It seated 1060 people and housed Britain’s only full time municipal orchestra.

The in September 1933 the South Pavilion at the end of the pier was destroyed by fire. The smoke could be seen six miles away. With so public a structure it is perhaps not surprising that everyone thought that someone would ring the fire brigade, but it was 20 minutes before the fire bells were heard. More than 300 holidaymakers, some in bathing costumes ripped up the timber decking to prevent the fire spreading to the Pier Pavilion. A car was driven down the pier to carry away the more valuable items of furniture.

By 1935 it was duly rebuilt in art-deco style at a cost £18,000. And in 1937 the central amusement pavion was added, in the same art-deco style together with the central windshield.

In 1940 after the fall of Dunkirk, a 120ft gap was blown by the Royal Engineers to stop it being used for invasion. During the war the Pavilion was used or a recreation centre for troops.

When the war was over it was nearly blown up again when a contact mine floated into the girders collapsed in the sand, a great danger not only to the pier but to the seaside properties. It was towed away and detonated safely. Instead of destruction the pier was re-opened in June 1946 with a big firework display.

Nowadays it is not a moneyspinner, but a steady annual cost to the ratepayers, but during its life it is estimated that 30 million people have walked along its boards. Which must be worth something!

(From Worthing Herald 23/30 Nov/7 Dec 00)

 

The Dome Cinema on Worthing seafront

The Dome Cinema on Worthing seafront

Built in 1910 as The Kursaal, it was one of the first multi-entertainment centres in the country. The present auditorium is dated 1921. WBC took it over in 1970 with the aim of pulling it down to build a shopping complex. The Save The Dome group duly saved the Dome, and now it has been taken over by the Worthing Dome and Regeneration Trust who have applied for lottery cash to ensure its long life as a cinema.

There is one other active cinema in Worthing, The Connaught, poreviously The Picturedrome. The Odean in Liverpool Terrace closed in 1986 and is now part of the town centre shopping complex. The Plaza in Rowlands Road became a bowling alley, and is now a Bingo hall. The Rivoli in the High Street/Chapel Road burned down in 1960.

 

Splash Point, Worthing

About 300 yards east of the pier, the esplanade ends at Splash Point. From here there is a view down to Shoreham, and is another place where fishermen sell their catch. There is also a small open space with a neat sign:

Stand Reserved
for the delivery of
Sermons and
Public Speeches

 

Martin Foreman

Auditor at Museum of London
Natural history is something that fascinates me, and I'm always looking for new opportunities to expand my horizons.

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