From Wellington Inn to Pier Hotel

During the second half of the nineteenth century and until the last few decades of the twentieth, virtually every building on Worthing’s seafront was a hotel or a boarding-house.

Thursday, 27th February 2014, 12:00 pm
The Marine Hotel, the Wellington Inn and East Parade, c1830
The Marine Hotel, the Wellington Inn and East Parade, c1830

Most of Worthing’s main seafront hotels started as modest establishments, in one or two houses in a pre-existing terrace, and then expanded as they gradually acquired further houses.

This applied to Warne’s Hotel, the Eardley Hotel and the Beach Hotel, all now demolished; and to the Berkeley Hotel, now Travelodge.

Just off the seafront, in Steyne Gardens, a similar principle applied in the case of the Chatsworth – which in due course acquired the old Steyne Hotel on the seafront to add to the houses in Steyne Terrace it already occupied – and the Ardington.

The Royal Sea House Hotel, the Marine Hotel and the Wellington Inn, probably in the 1850s

Other than the Steyne Hotel, only three of Worthing’s seafront hotels were purpose-built: the Burlington, which is still a hotel today; the Royal (formerly called the Royal Sea House and before that the Sea House), which burnt down in 1901; and the Marine, at the south-east corner of South Street, demolished in 1965.

Although it was a self-contained structure, the Pier Hotel, immediately to the east of the Marine, was not built as an inn.

It was originally a small house called Marine Cottage, probably dating from the end of the 18th century.

In 1815, the Duke of Wellington defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo, and when Marine Cottage was turned into an inn the following year, it was named after the great general.

The Pier Hotel (just left of centre) and East Parade, c1903

The building continued to be known as the Wellington Inn for almost half a century.

Then, in 1862, Worthing Pier was built – it was originally a simple, narrow structure – and the following year the Wellington Inn was renamed the Pier Hotel.

The Pier Hotel remained a modest three-storey building until 1938, when it was given an art deco makeover, and an extra storey was added.

Then, in 1965, the Pier Hotel was demolished, at the same time as its immediate neighbour the Marine Hotel; and four or five years later they were replaced by the oblong building seen here in the colour postcard of the early 1970s.

The Pier Hotel (at left) and East Parade in 1906

At its western end was a branch of Bejam, the frozen food retailer that was later taken over by Iceland.

The main part of the building was occupied by the Marine public house.

Within thirty years or so, however, that building too was gone, and today the Spy Glass Inn occupies the site.

I am much indebted to Jimmy for providing me with three exceptionally interesting pictures from his superb website to illustrate this article, to supplement those from my own collection. His pictures are the view westwards from the Wellington Inn in the 1850s; the view of the Pier Hotel in about 1930; and the advertisement for the Pier Hotel during its art deco period.

South Street at the start of the 1970s

• Antony Edmonds is the author of Jane Austen’s Worthing: The Real Sanditon (Amberley, 2013).