AskDefine | Define worthing



  1. present participle of worth
Worthing () is a large seaside town and a local government borough in West Sussex, England. Worthing is a major urban area and forms part of the Brighton/Worthing/Littlehampton conurbation.


Worthing has a population of almost 100,000 and is situated between the English Channel and the South Downs, a proposed national park
Traditionally Worthing has an above average proportion of elderly people, although there has been a decrease in the 60+ population, along with an increase in the population aged 25-45 in recent years.
At the same time, employment has increased at a faster rate than the national average.. Although the town is perceived as prosperous, and for three consecutive years was voted the most profitable town in Britain, the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings 2004 found that Worthing residents' average pre-tax pay is only £413 a week, compared to £442 for West Sussex and £474 for South East England.
Worthing has had an active underground culture for many years. Well known for smugglers right back to the 18th century, in the 19th century the Skeleton Army's opposition to the Salvation Army led to rioting, and in the 1960s The Worthing Workshop was a meeting place for musicians, actors and poets. Famous members included The Damned’s Brian James, Leo Sayer, Billy Idol, Martin Quittenton (who wrote Rod Stewart's Maggie May) and Track Records' supremo, Ian Grant. More recently, the town was home to Jamie Hewlett (Designer of the Year 2006) and Alan Martin, creators of Tank Girl. The Ordinary Boys, with singer Preston, were formed in the town. Today, the Revolutionary Arts Group and an anarchic local newsletter called The Porkbolter continue the underground culture. The newsletter takes its name from a belief that the inhabitants of Worthing were nicknamed "pork bolters", dating from the town's days as a fishing village when superstitious fishermen were afraid of pigs.
The town is often known as 'Sunny Worthing' following a popular advertising campaign in the 1890s promoting the town's agreeable climate between the sea and Downs.



The town has two Members of Parliament (MPs): Tim Loughton (Conservative) for East Worthing and Shoreham, who is Shadow Children's Minister and a Shadow Health Minister; and Peter Bottomley (Conservative) for Worthing West. At the 2005 general election, both seats were safe Conservative seats and have been held by the incumbents since the seats' creation in 1997.
From 1945 to 1997 Worthing returned one MP. Since 1945 Worthing has always returned Conservative MPs. Until 1945 Worthing formed part of the Horsham and Worthing parliamentary constituency.

Borough Council

The town is divided into 13 wards, 11 of which return three councillors and two which return two; this totals 37 councillors. Elections are held by thirds, with the two 2-member wards only having elections in the first and third years of the cycle.
Currently, there are 23 Conservative councillors; 13 Liberal Democrat councillors; and one Independent Conservative (resigned from the Conservative group in 2006). The Conservatives thus have control of the council.
electiontable WorthingCouncilCurrent makeup of Worthing Borough Council |- !colspan=2|Parties !Seats |- |23 |- |13 |- |1 |- !colspan=2|Total!!37 |}
The wards are:
Broadwater (3 councillors: 2 Liberal Democrat, 1 Conservative)
Castle (3 councillors: 2 Liberal Democrat, 1 Conservative)
Central (3 councillors: 3 Conservative)
Durrington (2 councillors: 2 Liberal Democrat)
Gaisford (3 councillors: 2 Conservative, 1 Liberal Democrat)
Goring (3 councillors: 3 Conservative)
Heene (3 councillors: 3 Conservative)
Marine (3 councillors: 3 Conservative)
Northbrook (2 councillors: 1 Conservative, 1 Liberal Democrat)
Offington (3 councillors: 2 Conservative, 1 Independent Conservative)
Salvington (3 councillors: 3 Conservative)
Selden (3 councillors: 2 Liberal Democrat, 1 Conservative)
Tarring (3 councillors: 3 Liberal Democrat)

Coat of arms

The borough's coat of arms was designed by Mr TR Hide in 1890 for the new borough of Worthing. The coat of arms includes three silver mackerel, a Horn of Plenty overflowing with corn and fruit on a cloth of gold, and the figure of Hygieia (the Ancient Greek goddess of health) holding a snake. They represent the health given from the seas, the fullness and riches gained from the earth and the power of healing.
Worthing's motto is the Latin Ex terra copiam e mari salutem, which translates as 'From the land plenty and from the sea health'.
Both the coat of arms and the motto of Worthing reflect Worthing's history of abundant fishing and farming, it having been a centre for mackerel fishing and one of the UK's largest market gardening areas.

Freedom of the Borough

Since the towns of Worthing and West Worthing merged in 1890 to form the borough of Worthing, the freedom of the borough has as been granted to the following people:


Lying on the south coast of England, Worthing lies on the fertile flat coastal plain between the South Downs and the English Channel, some 60 miles (100km) south of London and 80 miles (120km) from the coast of Normandy to the south and east.
The borough of Worthing is made up of many former villages, which in turn merge into neighbouring villages and towns, although there are some strategic gaps between settlements. Worthing is part of the Brighton/Worthing/Littlehampton conurbation, the 12th largest conurbation in the United Kingdom and England's 10th largest conurbation with a population of around 480,000.. The conurbation has been split by statisticians into two primary urban areas, one centred on Worthing and one centred on Brighton. The Worthing primary urban area, which includes areas outside of the boundaries of the borough, has a population of nearly 183,000, making Worthing the 38th largest primary urban area in England and the eighth largest primary urban area in South East England (after the primary urban areas of Portsmouth, Reading, Southampton, Brighton, Aldershot, Chatham and Milton Keynes).


The borough of Worthing comprises the following areas (not necessarily directly corresponding to administrative wards or former parishes):

Physical geography

The town of Worthing is dominated by the Downs, in particular Highdown Hill (81m high), to the west, West Hill (128m), to the north-west, Cissbury Ring (184m) to the north and Steep Down (149m) to the north-east. At 184 metres, Cissbury Ring is the highest point in the borough.
The culverted Teville Stream begins as a spring in what is now allotments in Tarring, runs along Tarring Road and Teville Road north of the town centre, passing to the east through Homefield Park and Davison High School before meeting the sea at Brooklands where the Broadwater Brook (Sompting Brook) meets the sea. To the west and also in parts culverted, Ferring Rife rises in Durrington near Littlehampton Road, passing through Maybridge, then west of Ferring into the sea. In previous centuries, the hamlet of Worthing extended out further into the sea, but rising sea levels have submerged this area.
The west of the borough contains some ancient woodland at Titnore Woods, which is some of the last remaining ancient woodland on the Sussex coastal plain. The woods border Clapham Woods on the Downs, said to be the site of various UFO sightings. The south-west of the borough contains the Goring Gap, a protected area of fields and woodland between Goring and Ferring. To the east of Worthing lies the Sompting Gap, a protected area that lies between Worthing and Sompting. This area was formerly an inlet of the sea and it is here that the Broadwater Brook (also known as Sompting Brook) flows into Brooklands Park and on into the sea. Some of the reedbeds in the Sompting Gap at Lower Cokeham have been designated a Site of Nature Conservation Importance. The borough of Worthing contains no nature reserves, the nearest being Widewater Lagoon and Lancing Ring (both in Lancing) and West Beach (in Littlehampton).

Marine environment

Lying some three miles off the coast of Worthing, the Worthing Lumps are a series of underwater chalk cliff faces, up to three metres high. The lumps are home to rare fish such as blennies and the lesser spotted dogfish. The south coast of England is one of the best areas in Europe for underwater chalk habitat, which is rare throughout Europe. The Worthing Lumps are probably the best example of this unusual habitat. The proximity of these under-sea chalk cliffs to the town is the reason for the abundance of chalk on Worthing's pebble beaches.
The site has been declared a Site of Nature Conservation Importance (SNCI) (a site of county importance) by West Sussex County Council. However like all marine sites in the UK, there is no national or international protection. The 2002 Marine Wildlife Conservation Bill would have provided protection from disturbance of Worthing Lumps and other important marine sites around the UK. Although approved by Members of Parliament, the Bill was, according to the RSPB, thrown out by Conservative peers with shipping interests.


For a list of notable people from Worthing, see List of notable Worthing inhabitants
People from Worthing are known as Worthingites. In Sussex dialect they were known as pork bolters, after the local fishermen's extreme avoidance of pigs.
Worthing underwent dramatic population growth both in the early 1800s as the hamlet had newly become a town, and again in the 1880s. The town experienced further growth in the 1930s, and again when new estates were built, using Prisoner of War labourers, to the west of the town from 1948.


Worthing means "(place of) Worth/Worō's people", from the Old English personal name Worth/Worō (the name means "valiant one, one who is noble"), and -ingas "people of" (reduced to -ing in the modern name). The first element of the name is almost certainly not worth/worō ("enclosure") (a cause of confusion for toponymists). The name was recorded as Wuroininege in 1183.
Older local people sometimes claim that the name of Worthing is derived from a natural annual phenomenon. Seaweed beds off nearby Bognor Regis are ripped up by summer storms and prevailing Atlantic currents deposit it on the beach. A rich source of nitrates, it makes good fertilizer. The decaying weed was sought by farmers from the surrounding area. Thus the town would have become known as Wort (weed) inge (people). However, this looks suspiciously like the kind of punning joke on place-names which is common in England, especially since the stench of the rotting weed could be very unpleasant. An alternative explanation, undoubtedly jocular, is that it is so called because everyone there is worthy and respectable. The explanation given by place-name scholars is that the name Worthing (Ordinges) is derived from Worth (an Old English given name) + ingas (people).


Stone age

In the neolithic period, the South Downs above Worthing was one of Britain's most important flint mining centres, containing the greatest concentration of flint mines in Britain. For much of the neolithic period of the stone age, it is likely that the Worthing area was at the borders of territory of two tribes, one based at Whitehawk Camp (in modern Brighton) and one centred on the Trundle (near modern Chichester).
Within a 7-mile radius of Worthing's town centre lie four of Britain's major neolithic flint mines: Harrow Hill in Patching (mined from 4250 BC to 3500 BC) Blackpatch Hill in Clapham (4350 BC to 3500 BC), Church Hill in Findon (4500 BC to 3750 BC) and Cissbury, within the modern borough of Worthing. The flints would have been used to make tools such as axes, scrapers and arrow heads. At Harrow Hill, dozens of ox skulls have been found, suggesting ritual slaughter, possibly each autumn, as many animals would not have survived the winter. In the mine shafts, drawings of an Earth Spirit and phalluses seem to have been used to protect the fertility of the mines. At Blackpatch, remains of what appear to be miners' huts have been found. Cissbury in neolithic times was probably Britain's second largest flint mine, after Grimes Graves in Norfolk. Over 270 pits have been found at Cissbury and there is evidence that flint from Cissbury was exported as far away as the eastern Mediterranean. Some shafts extend some 23 metres below the surface, with many galleries radiating from the base.. Four engravings, of a bull and deer, have been found in a shaft of one of the Cissbury flint mines. This is significant as few pieces of representational art survive from the British neolithic period.
Henges seem to have existed on the Downs near Worthing at Blackpatch, Church Hill, Cissbury and also at Cock Hill, midway between the neolithic mining areas of Harrow Hill and Blackpatch. At Cock Hill lies a henge dating from the late neolithic period, 48 metres in diameter, roughly circular, with a single entrance to the south-east. Various round barrows have been found on the Downs near Worthing close to Blackpatch and Church Hill..
Neolithic axes from the mines have been found away from the Downs in various locations across the modern town of Worthing including at Homefield Park, Heene Road, Broadwater, Pond Lane and Seldens Way. A site near the summit of West Hill in High Salvington, between Honeysuckle Lane and the covered reservoir, has been identified as the possible location of a neolithic village, possibly used by flint miners.

Bronze age

Several Bronze Age barrows have been found within the modern borough of Worthing, close to Cissbury on the Downs. The enclosures at Highdown Hill are believed to have been built at this time. Various artefacts, including tools, metal and pottery have been found in the Worthing area. In 1877 a large collection of Bronze Age cakes, palstaves and axes was found in a Bronze Age pot near Ham Road in East Worthing.

Iron age

The hill fort at Cissbury Ring dates from this period. Covering an extensive 60 acres (24 ha), this is one of the largest iron age hill forts in Britain and indeed Europe.
In 1842 a boat made from a hollowed-out oak tree was found at low tide in the sand near to Heene Road. It was believed that the boat dated from the Iron Age.

Roman times

Roman coins, tiles and pottery have been discovered in several parts of the town. Several roads in the Worthing area date from the Roman era or earlier, including the Roman road from Chichester (Noviomagus Reginorum) to Brighton which ran through Durrington and Broadwater.
It is likely that several of Worthing's roads were laid out during this period in a grid form marking out a field system known as 'centuriation'. Worthing's High Street lies at the south of a long straight trackway that stretches from high on the South Downs to the sea and northwards into the Weald. The track would have been used as a droveway (for transhumance) and can still be walked today along much of its length. Coming off the Downs it is now known as Charmandean Lane, which turns into a footpath known as the Quashetts, which becomes High Street and finally the Steyne before reaching the sea. The track would have touched the western shoreline of the 'broad water' that is the sea inlet from which Broadwater gets its name. The inlet would have existed for centuries but disappeared in the 18th century. It is likely that Worthing's grid system would have been based on this ancient track. The grid system would have been used to demarcate plots of land for fields and development.
The modern South Farm Road was once a track running north-south, parallel to the Quashetts path. It lies exactly 20 actus (about 710 metres) from the Quashetts path. 100 actus (about 3,550 metres) to the west of the Quashetts track lies the remains of a track that is probably Celtic in origin, also running north-south, by Stanhope Lodge, now on Poplar Road in Durrington. The track once marked the border between the parishes of Goring and Durrington. Today the line of this track marks the boundary between Clapham and Worthing. Another modern road that appears to be on the Roman grid system is Tarring Road (east-west), the ancient boundary between Heene and Tarring. South of Tarring Road (and the Teville stream is would have run alongside), the boundaries in the grid seem to be 24 actus apart from each other. The ancient boundary between Heene (later West Worthing) and Broadwater (later Worthing) lies 24 actus west of the Quashetts track. George V Avenue (north-south), the ancient boundary between Tarring (later West Worthing) and Goring lies 72 actus from the Quashetts track.
There is evidence of several buildings from the Roman era in Worthing. The town's Museum and Art Gallery is built on the site of a Roman farmhouse. A Roman settlement existed along the modern Brighton Road between Merton Road and Navarino Road. Remains of a Roman villa and bath house have been found on the site of Northbrook College's main Goring campus. A Roman milepost was found in modern Grand Avenue in West Worthing, possibly indicating another Roman road. A Roman cemetery existed between Chesswood Road and the railway line and burials dating from the early 4th century have also been found near Park Crescent. Roman pottery and coins have been found at Stonehurst Road, at land south of Ringmer Road in Tarring and on the Upper Brighton Road. Some Romano-British houses have been excavated in the Titnore Woods area of Durrington. Several small houses at the hill fort of Cissbury Ring on the Downs north of the town would have been in use during the Roman period.
Just beyond the boundaries of the modern town of Worthing, a Romano-British shrine existed at Muntham Court (now by the site of Worthing Crematorium). A Roman villa and bath-house also existed at Highdown and at nearby Angmering. The nationally-important Patching hoard of Roman coins that was found in 1997 is the latest find of Roman coins found in Britain, probably deposited after 475 AD. The hoard can be found in the town's Museum and Art Gallery.

Saxon times

Around 450, Highdown was being used as a cemetery by the South Saxons. Almost 100 hundred graves were found, possibly of Saxon warriors who died in the Saxon invasion of the area. Highdown continued to be used for some time for burials and cremations of Saxons. It is significant that Highdown was being used as a cemetery by pagan Saxons at the same time that Romano-British villa at nearby Northbrook, less than a mile away was still in use by local Celtic Christians. This suggests that Celtic Britons and Saxons were able to live side-by-side in relative harmony.
The Saxons settled nearby Goring and Sompting and by the 13th Century the settlement, then known as Wortinge, was populated primarily by farmers and mackerel fishermen. The hamlet of Worthing was originally part of the larger parish of Broadwater. Other nearby villages to later become part of Worthing include Tarring, Salvington, Goring, Heene and Durrington, as well as small parts of the parishes of Findon and Sompting.
Droveways (transhumance trackways) that extend from Tarring, Broadwater and nearby Sompting to grazing areas in the Weald via Cissbury Ring and Buncton near Wiston are believed to date from this period or earlier.

Medieval times

Following the Norman conquest, William de Braose gave the manor of Worthing (then known as Ordinges) to Robert le Sauvage, whose descendants held Worthing for around 200 hundred years. Worthing is first mentioned in the Domesday Book as two separate hamlets, Ordinges and Mordinges, when it had a population of just 22. By 1218 the Ordinges had become known as Wordding.
In the 13th century, the manor of Worthing was owned by Margaret de Gaddesden, a descendant of Robert le Sauvage. Margaret de Gaddesden later left her husband, John de Camoys, to live with Sir William Paynel, who she later married. It is likely that as a consequence of leaving her first husband for another man she then gave the manor of Worthing to Easebourne Priory near Midhurst, while in 1332 Sir William gave the nearby manor of Cokeham to Hardham Priory near Pulborough. By giving away their property to the church it is likely that Margaret and Sir William were acting in fear of their souls as the medieval church taught damnation was likely.
In 1300 and again in 1493, Worthing is recorded as having a harbour, possibly in the estuary of the Teville stream. Worthing harbour was a member of Shoreham Port in 1324.
Worthing was owned by the Easebourne Priory until the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539. It then became the property of Anthony Browne, 1st Viscount Montagu, whose family held the manor of Worthing for over 200 years.

18th and 19th centuries

It was in the late 18th Century that Worthing began to attract visitors. John Luther, from London, started the trend, building a large lodging house around 1759. In 1789, George Greville, 4th Earl of Warwick, bought the house (renaming it Warwick House) and the town began to become fashionable. With a warm climate and calm seas, it benefited from the Edwardian fashion for sea cures. Over the course of the next century Worthing became a fashionable resort on the circuit along with the towns of Bath, Brighton, Bognor Regis, Cheltenham and Margate.
Royal visits from Princess Amelia in 1798, Princess Charlotte in 1807 and Princess Augusta in 1829 did much to make the town popular. The Prince of Wales visited his youngest sister Princess Amelia in Worthing from nearby Brighton. In 1814, Queen Caroline visited Worthing on her way back to live in Brunswick in northern Germany. In addition, Queen Adelaide, wife of King William IV stayed in the town in 1849 and in 1861 Queen Marie Amelie of France, wife of King Louis-Philippe of France stayed in the town when exiled from France.
Notable visitors to the fashionable town of Worthing in the 19th century included novelist Ann Radcliffe, the Duke of Northumberland in 1802, Henry Dundas in 1804, Jane Austen in 1805, Lord Byron in 1806, the Duke of Cumberland in 1817, George Eliot in 1855, Oscar Wilde in 1893 and 1894, who wrote his masterpiece The Importance of Being Earnest while staying in the town in 1894, and the future Emperor Maximilian of Mexico.
In 1803 Worthing's population was approximately 2,500 and the hamlet was given town status. Cross Lane was renamed Montague Street and went on to become one of the new town's key thoroughfares. A turnpike road was built around this time linking Worthing directly to Horsham and London for the first time.
In the early 1800s, a wall was built separating the fashionable town of Worthing from Heene just to the west. The wall was built from the sea to the banks of the Teville stream, which could only easily be crossed at one point - the bridge at the top of the High Street, close to the Anchor public house (today's Jack Horner). Since the Teville stream flows east and south to the sea, this effectively gave the town just one point of entry and exit, allowing 'undesirables' to be kept out.
In 1815, two infants' schools opened, mainly through the efforts of the Revd. W. Davison, from the new St Paul`s Church
In the early hours of February 22, 1832, a major smuggling foray took place when 300 kegs of contraband spirits were unloaded at the beach opposite the Steyne. Excise officers chased a group of some two to three hundred men, one of Sussex's last smuggling gangs, up the town's High Street and alleyways (known in the Sussex dialect as twittens) towards Broadwater. As the group slowed down to climb the gate guarding the bridge over the Teville stream that would take them out of Worthing into open fields, horse-mounted excise officers opened fire at point-blank range on the crowd, who were armed only with wooden staves. They shot dead William Cowerson of Steyning and injured several others. Civil unrest was feared and the military were brought into the town for two years to ensure peace was kept. As with many towns and villages in Sussex and Kent, close proximity to the Continent made the trade of smuggling a lucrative and popular business.
In 1845 the railway was extended from Shoreham to Worthing, linking the town by rail with London and the railway network.
On November 25, 1850 eleven local fishermen were drowned as they set out from the town's beach to save the crew of the barque the Lalla Rookh, a trading vessel of around 700 tons. The boat was in distress in a storm three miles off the coast, and eleven fishermen set out onbaord a small ferry, the Britannia. The Britannia capsized, and a second boat was launched, returning with the news that the Britannia was lost with all lives. Soon afterwards the town's inhabitants subscribed for the town's first lifeboat.
In 1890 the town received its Royal Charter and became the borough of Worthing. Worthing absorbed the neighbouring town of West Worthing and parish of Heene. The first meeting of the new Borough Council (replacing the Worthing Local Board and the West Worthing Commissioners) took place on 10th November 1890, when Worthing elected its first mayor, Alfred Cortis.
In 1893 an outbreak of typhoid fever caused 200 fatalities in the town, after 1,416 people caught the disease. The relatively young council took swift action, and by 1895 the town had a new drainage system.

20th century

The 20th century saw a continual expansion of the town, as it expanded to include local villages. In 1902 the borough of Worthing expanded to include parts of Broadwater and West Tarring. In 1929 the borough of Worthing expanded to include Goring and Durrington. And in 1933 the borough of Worthing expanded again to include the west of Sompting and the south of Findon.
Between 1908 and 1910, King Edward VII visited Worthing several times to stay at Beach House with the Loder family.
Following Italy's invasion of Abyssinia in 1936, Emperor Haile Selassie and his family were forced out of Ethiopia to the United Kingdom. They spent their first six weeks in the UK at the Warnes Hotel, one of the town's top hotels at the time.
During World War II, a hole was blown through Worthing Pier to prevent it being used as a landing stage in the event of an invasion. Barbed wire was spread across the beach, which was also mined. Canadian soldiers stayed in several parts of the town, including the former site of the town's rugby club in Tarring and at Park Crescent in the town centre. Courtlands, an impressive country house in the Goring area of the town was used as headquarters of the First Canadian Army. In February 1944, the British Army's 4th Armoured Brigade set up headquarters in the Eardley Hotel by Splash Point. 200 tanks arrived and troops were billeted in and around Steyne Gardens. Historic Beach House was used by the Air Training Corps. During World War II, food supplies were scarce and rationed. The people of Timaru in New Zealand donated food parcels to the people of Worthing. After the war, the people of Worthing donated a stained glass window to the people of Timaru in thanks for their efforts.
Immediately post-war, Worthing expanded with the Maybridge estate, planned by Charles Cowles-Voysey. The redbrick housing estate used Prisoner of War labour, and was built between 1948 and 1956.
In the late 20th century many of the town's historic buildings were demolished by planners eager to 'modernise' the town. Notable losses included the town's Theatre Royal, the Old Town Hall, dating from 1834, medieval Offington Hall, the mansion at Charmandean, a medieval fig garden in Tarring and dozens of Victorian villas throughout the town.
In the late 20th century, Worthing had a significant motor industry. In 1979, Octav Botnar founded Datsun UK, later Nissan UK, in the West Durrington area of the town. In the 1970s and 1980s, Dutton Cars produced kit cars from their Worthing headquarters, and for a time was the largest manufacturer of kit cars in the world. The company went on to produce two models of amphibious car, that could be 'driven' across land and sea. International Automotive Design (IAD) was one of the UK's major design houses for cars, producing prototypes for manufacturers such as Mazda, including the first Mazda MX-5. In 1990, the company was bought by Daewoo who continued to develop cars at their Worthing Technical Centre, including the Daewoo Nubira and the Daewoo Kalos (later renamed the Chevrolet Aveo). In 2000, the Worthing centre was bought by TWR Racing which went out of business in 2003.

21st century

The town's council approved Worthing Evolution, a Masterplan for the town's regeneration, in 2006 after extensive public consultation.
Since May 2006, environmentalist protesters have been tree sitting at Titnore Woods, in the Durrington area of the town. The action is in protest at plans to build houses and a road-widening scheme through ancient woodland on the edge of the town.
From February 2008, Worthing will host the reopened public inquiry into the proposed national park for the South Downs.

Folklore of Worthing

Midsummer Tree

As recently as the 19th century, it was believed that on Midsummer's Eve skeletons would rise up from the Midsummer Tree and dance around the tree until dawn when they would sink back into the ground. The oak tree is said to be around 300 years old and is situated close to Broadwater Green in Broadwater. The legend of the Midsummer Tree was first recorded by folklorist Charlotte Latham in 1868.


It was once believed that monsters known as knuckers lived in bottomless ponds, known as knuckerholes. There were several knuckerholes in Sussex, including one in Worthing just by the Ham Bridge (modern Ham Road) close to the railway and the Teville Stream.

Tunnel from Offington to Cissbury

There is a legend of a tunnel leading all the way from medieval Offington Hall (now demolished) up to Cissbury, a distance of several miles. The tunnel was said to be sealed, with treasure at the far end. It was said that the owner of the Hall 'had offered half the money to anyone who would clear out the subterranean passage and several persons had begun digging, but all had been driven back by large snakes springing at them with open mouths and angry hisses'.

Economy and regeneration

Worthing's economy is dominated by the service industry, particularly finanicial services. The town is home to several major employers including GlaxoSmithKline, HM Revenue & Customs, Lloyds TSB, MGM Assurance, Norwich Union and Southern Water.
In 2006, Worthing Borough Council agreed a masterplan for the town's regeneration. Much of the regeneration is focused on improving the town centre and seafront. The historic Dome Cinema was reopened in 2007 after major investment from the Heritage Lottery Fund. A new £150 million development is proposed for Teville Gate, close to the town's main railway station, which is expected to include 18-storey and 11-storey residential towers, with shopping and leisure facilities. The Grafton Centre and Lido on the seafront are also earmarked for major redevelopment and improvement. The town's major undercover shopping centre, the Guildbourne Centre, may also be rebuilt entirely and extended to Union Place, covering the site of the town's former police station. A public art strategy is being prepared for the seafront, which may be extended to cover the whole town centre, while a £70,000 piece of artwork named Suncloud has been commissioned for Splash Point on the seafront, to be completed later in 2008. £650,000 is being spent on improvements to the public realm for Chapel Road / South Street (the town centre's major north-south route) and the seafront which will take place later in 2008. It is proposed that the seafront would also undergo major improvement, starting in 2008 with improvements to the Splash Point Café on the beach and a new high quality café-restaurant on the site of an existing seafront shelter. Marks and Spencer is due to carry out a £12 million refurbishment of its Worthing store in 2008, which will see a new store café open overlooking the seafront. Also in 2008, work is expected to start on rebuilding the Victorian Eardley Hotel on the town's seafront. There are plans to develop a new transport model linking the town centre with the Sussex coast's major trunk road, the A27.
In the longer term, a new marina has been proposed, possibly just to the east of the town centre. It is also intended to review the town's cultural and civic hub, possibly introducing new facilities, buildings and public squares around the Town Hall. The town's Museum and Art Gallery is expected to undergo a £6 million pound redevelopment in the next few years. It is expected that a new £24 million municipal swimming pool will be built in the town centre in the next few years, possibly next to the existing pool, the Aquarena, which would be redeveloped. Swiss electronics firm, Lemo are building a new £5 million UK headquarters in North Street, due to open in 2009. It has also been proposed that Montague Place is pedestrianised and improved to better link the town centre with the seafront.
In early 2008, the town's further education college, Northbrook College announced proposals to invest £70 million to consolidate its operations onto one major campus in Broadwater. Worthing College, the town's Sixth Form college, has also had plans approved for a £35 million redevelopment of its campus close to Durrington railway station.

Landmarks, buildings & places of interest

Open spaces

The town contains a considerable number of parks and gardens, many laid out in the Victorian and Edwardian eras.
  • Beach House Park - named after nearby Beach House the park is home to one of the world's most well-known venues for the sport of bowls. The park is also home to a possibly unique memorial to homing pigeons that served in the Second World War.
  • Beach House Green - Field of hope
  • Broadwater Green - Broadwater's 'village green'.
  • Brooklands Park
  • Denton Gardens
  • Goring Green
  • Highdown Gardens - a beautiful garden at the foot of the South Downs, deemed to be of national importance.
  • Homefield Park - formerly known as the 'People's Park' it was once home to Worthing F.C.
  • Liverpool Gardens - overlooking the graceful Georgian Liverpool Terrace, the gardens and terrace are named after Lord Liverpool. Overlooking the park from the east are four bronze heads known as Desert Quartet, sculptured by Dame Elisabeth Frink.
  • Marine Gardens
  • Palatine Park
  • Promenade Waterwise Garden
  • Steyne Gardens - which includes a sunken garden re-landscaped in 2007 with a fountain of the Ancient Greek sea god, Triton, by sculptor William Bloye.
  • Victoria Park - was donated by the Heene Estate to the poor of Worthing in comemoration of the death of Queen Victoria. ( Taken from title deeds to property owned in St. Matthews Road.) The land was previously used for market gardening and once sported a paddling pool which was closed due to foot infections in the children. Victoria Park is very popular for club and casual footballers.
  • West Park - has a running track and basketball court and lies next to Worthing Leisure Centre.

Annual events

In January, the ancient custom of wassailing takes place in Tarring to bless the apple trees. A flaming torchlit procession takes place down Tarring High Street culminating in hundreds of people gathering around an apple tree to shout, chant and sing to drive away evil spirits. The apple trees are toasted with wassail, apple cider and apple cake, followed by fireworks.
Every February, to coincide with Valentine's Day, the Revolutionary Arts Group stage the We Love You festival, a small event which includes artistic interventions around the town.
Each March a fruit-flinging contest is held on the beach to mark the sinking of the 1000-ton SS Indiana off the coast of Worthing in 1901. The ship was sailing to London from Venice via Valencia and crashed into another ship off Worthing. The ship's cargo of oranges and lemons was washed up on the beach to the delight of the town's inhabitants.
On May Day, a procession and dancing takes place in Worthing town centre, culminating in the crowning of the May Queen. Also in May, the Three Forts Marathon starts and finishes at the Norwich Union building on the outskirts of Worthing before taking in the ancient hill forts of Cissbury Ring, Devil's Dyke and Chanctonbury Ring over the rough and steep terrain of the South Downs.
The Artists and Makers Festival, organised by the Revolutionary Arts Group, takes place in the first two-three weeks every July, and includes artists' open houses, studios and gardens; a textile arts trail; and music and theatre, including Rainbow Shakespeare which takes place in Highdown Gardens.
The Worthing Festival is held in the last two weeks each July with open-air concerts in the town centre and a fairground along the town's promenade.
Pier Day takes place on Worthing Pier and the nearby promenade every September.

Cannabis culture

Worthing, home of Chris Baldwin (a Legalise Cannabis Alliance activist), was one of the few towns in the UK to experience cannabis cafés for the first time. Chris first opened a café in a back room of his shop, "Bongchuffa", on Rowlands Road. The café was named "The Quantum Leaf". The café was so successful that he opened his second, on the other side of Worthing. He named his second creation "Buddies", and simultaneously set up "The Herb Connection" - a source of cannabis for those with alleged "medical need". Both cafés were subject to continuous police raids. The first café eventually came to a close when the landlord withdrew the lease for the property - shortly followed by "Buddies" closing due to police, who were intercepting customers on their way out of the property.
Another cannabis cafe, operating in a less obvious, but still public, manner was also opened and operating freely in Worthing for over two years, by a group not associated with the LCA. It survived a great deal of police attention and a few raids but no longer exists. The site of this cafe was reduced to rubble within months of the last raid, and is currently a building site with flats planned later in the year.
A Headshop opened in November 2006 in Worthing, called Green, to cater for the town's cannabis culture.


The borough of Worthing currently has a lower crime rate than the national average, with a downward trend in recorded crime falling faster than the rest of the country - a trend that is in keeping with Sussex and the south-east of England as a whole.
Rail connections include services to Brighton (26 minutes), London (Victoria) (84 minutes), Gatwick Airport (50 minutes), Portsmouth, Southampton and Worcester Shrub Hill. In the winter of 2007, South West Train Services withdrew their services from Portsmouth to Brighton (via Worthing).


Worthing lies 60 miles (100km) south of London and 11 miles (16km) west of Brighton. It is served by the following main roads:
Since 2005, the Megabus has run between Worthing and London, via Brighton.


To the east of Worthing, the National Cycle Network Route 2 runs off-road along the sea-front from Splash Point to Shoreham and is then signed on quiet roads to Hove Lagoon where an off-road route runs to Brighton.
To the west of Worthing the South Coast Cycle Route is on-road and is not designed to the standards of the National Cycle Network. Cycling on the seafront promenade in Worthing has become a highly contentious issue. Worthing remains one of the few towns in the country with a large seafront promenade that has failed to accommodate an off-road cycle route, although this is expected to be developed as part of the Worthing Evolution masterplan.

Literary and artistic connections




Theatre, Film and broadcast media



Visual art


Church of England

The Church of England is active in the 17 parishes that make up the Rural Deanery of Worthing. Worthing has a wide and full range of Anglican churches from the Anglo-Catholic through to the Evangelical traditions.

Roman Catholic

The Roman Catholic Church is active in its parishes across Worthing.


The Methodist Church is active across Worthing.

Free Churches

The Free Churchesare active across Worthing.


Worthing has a mosque and Islamic centre for a growing multi-ethnic Muslim community in the town.


Nicknamed the Rebels, Worthing F.C. is the town's main football club. They play in the Isthmian League Division One South, having been relegated from the Premier Division at the end of the 2006/07 season.
Eric "The Rabbit" Parsons played for West Ham United, Chelsea and Brentford in the 1940s and 1950s. He was born in Worthing and continues to live in the town.
Chelsea and England goalkeeper Peter Bonetti grew up in the town, having moved to Worthing from London with his parents in 1948 and having played for Worthing Catholics in the 1950s.
Scott Harris, who used to play for Portsmouth F.C. was born in Worthing in 1985. Worthing Thunder, formed after local team Worthing Bears moved to Brighton, play basketball in the English Basketball League and are the current league champions. Women's ten-pin bowling champion Lisa John lives in the town. Worthing is the home of the English Bowling Association (EBA). Beach House Park in Worthing is also one of the world's most famous bowls venues. Five international standard bowling greens play host to the annual EBA National Championships. These are held every summer (mid/late August) and are the highlight of the EBA calendar. Competitors come from all over England to compete in the various events which culminate in the inter-county Middleton Cup that takes place on the final day each year.
Various other representative and international Bowls fixtures take place at Beach House Park from time to time including British Isles Championships, Junior Internationals and indeed the World Bowls Championships in 1972 and 1992. Former Test cricketer Donald Smith was born in Broadwater in 1923.
Sussex cricketer Jason Lewry was born in the town in 1971 and was a member of Sussex's County Championship-winning sides of 2006 and 2007.
Former Sussex cricketer and England Under 19 captain Neil Lenham was born in Worthing in 1965.
Worthing's oldest cricket club is Broadwater Cricket Club, which was founded in 1771. In 1837 the club hosted a match on Broadwater Green between a Sussex XI and an England XI. As the town of Worthing grew separately from Broadwater in the 1800s, Worthing Cricket Club was formed in 1855.
Chippingdale Cricket Club is Worthing's oldest cricket club (if we disregard those with a geographical base). The club was founded in 1897 by Frank Sandell for the employees of his building firm. Byron Dafoe, goaltender for the Washington Capitals was born in the town in 1971. Worthing is home to Lewis Crathern, British Kitesurfing Champion and Neil Hilder, another top UK kitesurfer. Kitesurfing takes place along the coast at Worthing and in particular at Goring Gap between the Goring area of the town and Ferring. Worthing Rowing Club was formed in 1880 and has held an annual rowing regatta since the 19th century. Worthing RFC were formed at York House in the town in September, 1920 and play in the nearby village of Angmering. They are currently in London and South East Division One and have been Sussex county champions every year from 2001-present. Worthing Swimming Club was formed in 1890 in the YMCA Rooms in Warwick Street. Former Great Britain Davis Cup player Martin Lee is from Worthing and attended Worthing High School.

Twin towns and districts


worthing in Danish: Worthing
worthing in German: Worthing
worthing in Italian: Worthing
worthing in Dutch: Worthing
worthing in Japanese: ワーシング (ウェスト・サセックス州)
worthing in Norwegian: Worthing
worthing in Polish: Worthing
worthing in Romanian: Worthing
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