C20 Southern Group’s Clare Dales reports on their recent tour of Worthing.
Our visit, led by Neville Hopkins, commenced at the Worthing Assembly Hall, and followed at a brisk pace to the seafront and pier. Here are some of the highlights of the afternoon. In the 1920’s Worthing was enjoying a boom as a seaside resort and boasted three theatres, the Assembly Hall, the Connaught Theatre and the Dome Theatre on the seafront. All three are still fully operational. The Dome Theatre began life as a roller blading rink in 1911. It boasted a fashionable glass roof, which was replaced when converted to a cinema in the 1950s. The cinema has featured in many films, including Wish You Were Here and retains the original projection room with many of its Bakelite fittings and fabulous ticket booth.
Adjacent to the Assembly Hall, is Stoke Abbot Court. A run of smart flats terminating in what was once a Caffyn’s Garage. Built in 1935, it was the first building in Worthing to be constructed in concrete.
The nearby quarter of Council offices and splendid Post Office buildings, variously constructed between 1950-65 demonstrated a definite sense of civic pride. We viewed the controversial Elizabeth Frink ‘The Desert Quartet’ statues in Liverpool Gardens, before reaching the striking Barclays Bank build at Chapel Road. A striking corner building of blue-green manufactured ‘stone’ and upper floor precast brisse soleille curved to reflect the corner setting.
We completed our walk along the seafront, noting the splendid 1930’s nautical structures: the rowing club at splash point and pier.
Many thanks to Neville for guiding us and packing so much into the afternoon.