Six historical facts about Worthing…
- Worthing was a hotbed of smuggling in the 1800s – one large haul of illegal goods was even landed on what is today the Steyne.
- The George Inn, which was demolished to build the Guildbourne Centre in 1969 was also once used as the town hall before the actual first town hall was built. It was said to have a smugglers’ tunnel down to the sea.
- Jane Austen, Oscar Wilde and Harold Pinter have all stayed in the town and written some of their work whilst here.
- Worthing has hidden WW2 air raid shelters buried under the grass on the Steyne. There are deserted unused toilets below the promenade facing the pier that have been sealed off for years – vehicles aren’t allowed on the prom above them as it isn’t strong enough to take the weight and the passengers might find themselves in these spooky toilets!
- Worthing once stretched out much further to the south than it does now – houses and possibly a chapel existed where the beach now is and cricket was once played on grass as far out to sea as the south end of the pier in the 1700s.
- 11 of the town’s fishermen perished when trying to rescue the crew of a stricken boat, the Lalla Rookh in one of the 19th Century’s worst storms of 1850. They became national heroes and Queen Victoria even contributed £50 to a fund for their families. Worthing ended up getting the first of its three lifeboat houses as a result of the disaster.