Worthing, West Sussex
Worthing began as a Saxon village. It may have been called Worth or
Wurtha ingas which means the settlement (belonging to) the people of Worth or Wurtha. Whatever the origin of
its name for centuries Worthing was just an agricultural hamlet. However in the 18th century its fortunes
In the 18th century people believed that bathing in sea water could
heal you from many diseases. In the late 18th century visiting the seaside became fashionable among the rich.
Many new seaside resorts grew up such as Brighton and Bognor Regis.
Worthing began to develop after 1798 when Princess Amelia came. Where
members of the royal family went other wealthy people were bound to follow. In the earliest years of the 19th
century Worthing grew rapidly and several new streets were built but in mid 19th century the growth
In 1807 the first theatre in Worthing opened. Also in 1807 Princess
Charlotte, the Prince Regent's daughter visited Worthing.
In 1803 an Act of Parliament formed a body of men called Commissioners
who had powers to pave and clean the streets. This was the beginning of local government in Worthing. A Town
Hall was built in Worthing in 1835.
Also in 1803 a turnpike road was built to Worthing. (Turnpike roads
were privately owned and maintained and you had to pay to use them). The turnpike made it much easier for
visitors to reach Worthing. It became easier still in 1845 when the railway reached
Amenities in Worthing slowly improved. From 1810 Worthing had a
market. In 1829 a dispensary opened where the poor could obtain free medicines. In 1881 a hospital opened in
Worthing. From 1834 Worthing had gas light. From 1857 it had a piped water
The first pier at Worthing was built in 1862. It was replaced by a new
pier in 1889.
However not everything went smoothly in Worthing. In 1850 tragedy
struck when a ship called the Lalla Rook was caught in a storm offshore. Some fishermen set out to rescue it
but their boat sank. All eleven of the crew died. A second rescue boat was sent out and managed to rescue the
crew of the Lalla Rook.
The Salvation Army met fierce opposition when it came to Worthing in
the early 1880s. The opposition reached a peak in 1884 when a rabble formed themselves into what they called
the 'skeleton army' and rioted in Worthing. Troops were called in to disperse
Worthing was made a borough in 1890. By then it had a population of
around 16,000. However in 1893 there was an outbreak of typhoid in Worthing which killed 188
In 1896 the first public library opened in
In 1901 Worthing gained an electricity supply and in 1908 it gained a
museum and art gallery.
In the early 20th century Worthing flourished as a seaside town and
the population grew rapidly. By the late 1930s it was estimated to be 62,000. The Dome was built in 1910. The
Connaught Theatre was built in 1914. The Pavilion Theatre followed in 1926.
Denton Gardens opened in 1924. Marine Gardens were created in
On a more sober note a War Memorial was erected in 1921. Furthermore
in the 1920s and 1930s the first council houses were built in Worthing. A new Town Hall was built in
During World War II 44 people died in Worthing as a result of air
raids and 97 houses were destroyed.
Worthing Lido opened in 1959. Highdown Gardens were given to the
council in 1967 and the Guildbourne centre opened in 1974. A new library was built in Worthing in
Davidson Leisure Centre opened in 1989 and Millennium Garden opened in
Today the population of Worthing is