Champion of Shoreham’s heritage remembered with new Blue Plaque

Historian Colin Ulph, right, unveils the new plaque with Shoreham Society chairman Gerard Rosenberg
Historian Colin Ulph, right, unveils the new plaque with Shoreham Society chairman Gerard Rosenberg

A pioneer of Shoreham’s heritage, who saved many historic buildings and averted several serious threats to the character of the town, has been remembered with a new Blue Plaque.

Reg Leggett was an estate agent who died in December 1996 and is best remembered for his campaign to save the town’s oldest church when it came under threat from the A27 bypass.

The plaque on Reg’s former home, The Old Tiled Cottage, in Middle Street, next to the car park, was organised by the Shoreham Society with the help of his niece, Sandi Marchant.

Adrian Towler, from the society’s executive committee, said: “Blue Plaques are common enough but the one unveiled in Shoreham last Saturday is a bit different.

“The suggestion originally came from Reg’s niece, who is now mentioned on the plaque and that’s what makes it so unusual. The Shoreham Society did the work and Sandi will make a contribution. She currently lives in Somerset.”

Reg’s business was in East Street and later became the offices of the Shoreham Herald.

The plaque was unveiled as part of the national Heritage Open Days weekend by local historian Colin Ulph, who was born and bred in Shoreham and knew Reg well.

In 1957, Reg initiated the forming of Shoreham Preservation Society and was elected founder member but later, he broke away and fought to get a bypass to the north of the town, well clear of St Nicolas’ Church, which was under threat.

Colin said: “That is Reg’s legacy.”

Then, in 1967, when the town centre faced total annihilation in redevelopment plans and street widening, Reg saved seven old cottages in Old Shoreham, four of them desirable thatched properties in The Street and Connaught Avenue, and others that are now The Amsterdam Inn.

Reg was instrumental in securing the transfer of Bramber Castle and land round it to The National Trust.

He also avidly fought the 1969 Saltings Bridge Scheme, which would have destroyed the town’s river setting by putting a massive concrete flyover diagonally across the river.

Rosemary Barlow, who now lives in The Old Tiled Cottage, is a long-standing member of the Shoreham Society and used to distribute its Journal.

She said: “I did not know Reg but a lot of the features in this house were put in by him and he clearly loved living in Shoreham.”

As well as unveiling the plaque, the society launched its Adur Arbor tree planting scheme last weekend and a walking tour leaflet. To go with this, a new sketch map of Shoreham is being produced, in draught form at the moment, as a quick guide for visitors and to show them ‘the interesting bits’ of the town.