A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 6 Part 1, Bramber Rape (Southern Part). Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1980.
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Before 1066 the part of Worthing called Ordinges was held by 7 alodial tenants. In 1086 it comprised 9 hides and had land for three plough-teams. The demesne was cultivated by 2 teams, and there was 1 servus and 7 a. of meadow. Six villani and 9 bordars had another team. At the same date Mordinges, the other part of Worthing manor, had 1½ hide, worked by 1 villanus and 5 bordars. It had ½ a. of meadow. Both estates had retained their value since 1066. (fn. 1)
In the early 15th century 34 free tenants of Broadwater manor were named in Worthing, 14 of whom owed a corn-rent called 'parkseycorn', usually paid in barley. By 1493 there were c. 28 free tenants, 13 of whom owed 'parkseycorn.' Sixteen customary tenants of Broadwater manor in the early 15th century held land in Worthing, some of which had formerly been freehold. Seven of them owed labour services besides rent and other dues, and seven owed 'parkseycorn'. In 1493 of 11 customary tenants four owed labour services, and most of the 'parkseycorn' dues had been commuted for money payments. (fn. 2)
Copyhold land held of Worthing manor was subject to heriot from the 1540s, (fn. 3) and in the late 17th century and early 18th the custom of borough English obtained. (fn. 4) Freehold and customary land held of Broadwater manor was recorded in the 18th century (fn. 5) and some copyholds of that manor were enfranchised in the late 18th century. In 1798 of 25 closes abutting onto Worthing common 21 were held of Broadwater manor, two of Worthing manor, and one each of the manors of Lancing and Cokeham in Sompting. (fn. 6) In 1807 c. 56 a. in Worthing were copyhold of Cokeham, one copyhold at least having been enfranchised. (fn. 7) Of land in Worthing allotted at the inclosure of Broadwater parish in 1810 c. 41 a. were copyhold of Worthing manor, c. 27 a. of Broadwater, c. 30 a. of Cokeham, and c. 13 a. of Lancing. The copyhold allotments for Worthing manor were small and widely scattered. (fn. 8) Copyholds of Cokeham manor were still recorded at Worthing c. 1830, and copyholds of Worthing manor until the 1920s. Heriots were exacted from the latter in kind and money until 1860. (fn. 9)
The Croft common was recorded in 1501, (fn. 10) but has not been identified. The Teville common and the Town mead lay north-west and north-east of Worthing hamlet, on the Teville stream. (fn. 11) In 1696 10 Worthing farmers claimed common rights on the former, (fn. 12) and after 1805 it was sold in 5 lots to meet the expenses of inclosure. (fn. 13) Worthing meadow, recorded in 1300 (fn. 14) and 1493, (fn. 15) may be identified with the Town mead, recorded in the 1580s. (fn. 16) From the late 17th century individuals were apparently encroaching on the mead, (fn. 17) and by c. 1810 it had been divided into small strips. (fn. 18) A common field at Worthing was recorded in 1300 (fn. 19) and in 1493. (fn. 20) In 1560 the east and west common fields were recorded, (fn. 21) and by the mid 17th century the easternmost or east field, the middle field, and the east field next the town or home field lay east of the hamlet, and the west field between the hamlet and the Heene boundary. (fn. 22) Smaller fields included North Town, north of the hamlet, recorded from 1688, and Great South Town south-east of the hamlet. (fn. 23)
A common pasture was recorded west of the hamlet in 1501 (fn. 24) and in 1552 several tenants of Worthing manor were licensed to inclose a common of 6 a. (fn. 25) Between 1700 and 1710 agreements were made in the Broadwater court baron for the stocking of the commons, evidently including Worthing common south of the modern shore line, by the tenants of Broadwater manor in Broadwater and Worthing. (fn. 26) The tenants of Worthing manor had right of common for all sorts of cattle on Worthing common in 1747. (fn. 27)
Cider was transported from Worthing in 1349. (fn. 28) Wheat, barley, vetch, and peas were grown in 1560, and hemp in the late 16th and 17th centuries. (fn. 29) Throughout the 17th century barley and wheat were the most important crops. Most farms also kept sheep and dairy cattle, and even holdings of less than 20 a. had common rights for cows or bullocks. (fn. 30)
There seems never to have been a single dominant holding in Worthing. (fn. 31) After 1500 estates of for instance 3 a., (fn. 32) 16 a., (fn. 33) 22 a., (fn. 34) and 40 a. (fn. 35) are recorded, and the reputed manor of Marhood contained c. 56 a. in the late 18th century. (fn. 36) In 1524 17 inhabitants were assessed to the subsidy on their wages, 13 on goods worth under £5, 3 on goods worth between £5 and £10, and only one on lands. (fn. 37) In the mid 17th century most houses in Worthing had only one or two hearths. (fn. 38)
Some land in the open fields had been inclosed before the early 19th century, both around the hamlet and to the north and east. In 1810 the remaining open fields and commons, comprising 347 a., were allotted to 26 people. The largest allotments were 80 a. freehold and copyhold to George Newland, 58 a. freehold to W. W. Richardson, 50 a. freehold and copyhold to Thomas Bushby, 38½ a. freehold to John Winchester, and 30 a. freehold and copyhold to John Penfold. (fn. 39)
After 1810 the ownership of land was increasingly fragmented by the growth of the town which, with erosion to the east, reduced the amount of agricultural land. (fn. 40) About 1848 there were 140 a. of pasture and 202 a. of arable, (fn. 41) but by 1875 there were only c. 200 a. of pasture and arable together; most of the arable then lay east of the town, and the pasture along the Teville stream. (fn. 42) By 1896 much of the land east of the town had become marketgardens. (fn. 43)
About 1848 the larger landholdings, of between 26 a. and 65 a., lay east of the town. (fn. 44) In 1879 the Worthing Land Improvement Co. held c. 105 a.there. (fn. 45) A farm-house had been built on the eastern edge of the former east field on John Winchester's allotment by 1838. (fn. 46) It was called Sea Mill Park farm by 1909 when it had c. 10 a. The site was built over from the 1930s. (fn. 47) Late-19th and early-20th-century boundary changes brought more agricultural land into the borough. Ham farm, in Durrington and Goring, included 163 a. in 1919 when it was bought by the county council and divided into smallholdings. (fn. 48) In 1923 Salvington, formerly Banks, farm had c. 250 a. (fn. 49) From 1956 Messrs. Linfield farmed over 100 a. around the Lyons Farm nursery growing cereals and lucerne. (fn. 50) In 1975 there were 9 holdings within the borough, one of which was over 250 a. and one over 750 a. Most were given over to general horticulture, but one raised sheep and cattle; c. 800 sheep and 124 cattle were recorded on those holdings and c. 550 pigs and c. 2,250 poultry were also kept. (fn. 51)
Market-gardening. (fn. 52)
Worthing's climate and fertile brickearth soil helped the development of the market-garden and glass-house industry there. (fn. 53) A number of gardens around Worthing supplied the town with fresh fruit and vegetables in 1813, (fn. 54) and in 1814 and 1849 there were three market-gardens in Worthing itself. (fn. 55) In 1853 there were glass-houses there, (fn. 56) and in 1859 and 1865 Worthing's four nursery gardens produced flowers and hot-house grapes, (fn. 57) and sent fruit and vegetables to the London and Brighton markets early in the season. (fn. 58) By 1896 there were many glass-houses immediately around the town (fn. 59) which was described in 1899 as a 'town of hot-houses'. (fn. 60)
Pioneers of large-scale glass-house production in the area were C.A. Elliott, recorded in Broadwater from 1862, (fn. 61) who is said to have used glass from the Great Exhibition of 1851 for glass-houses there where he grew grapes for sale, (fn. 62) and George Beer, a Worthing schoolmaster, (fn. 63) who started growing grapes c. 1872 and claimed to be the first in Worthing to build large glass-houses. (fn. 64) In the 1870s few followed Beer's lead, but later more did so, including some who became well known in local affairs, (fn. 65) and other growers started in Broadwater and Sompting. (fn. 66)
The industry's growth depended greatly on Worthing's rail-head. (fn. 67) At first Brighton fruiterers bought Beer's grapes at Worthing but by 1882 the area was known for its early glass-house fruit grown for the London markets, (fn. 68) and it also supplied London and Brighton with early vegetables. (fn. 69) Large quantities of grapes, tomatoes, and cucumbers were grown by 1885, (fn. 70) and in 1887 a Worthing grower successfully asserted that land covered by glass-houses was entitled to reduced rating, (fn. 71) although that decision was reversed in 1900. (fn. 72) By 1887 George Paine of Broadwater had patented a counterbalance ventilating gear for glass-houses, 250,000 of which were in use by 1890. (fn. 73)
A boom began in the British glass-house industry in the early 1890s. (fn. 74) By 1891 600 tons of fruit a year left Worthing, much of it for northern towns such as Leeds, Birmingham, Manchester, and Glasgow. (fn. 75) By 1893 a newly formed Fruit Growers Association had obtained a reduction in railway charges. (fn. 76) Special loading facilities for fruit were opened c. 1894, (fn. 77) and in 1895 920 tons of fruit went to London by train and 174 tons elsewhere. (fn. 78) By c. 1900, however, protective tariffs halted the export of hot-house table grapes to Paris, (fn. 79) prices were greatly reduced, and the short-lived boom was over.
By 1899 there were c. 50 a. of glass-houses in Worthing, and over 100 nurserymen. Worthing was known mainly for its high-quality, highly-priced, early glass-house produce, which included grapes, (fn. 80) tomatoes, cucumbers, strawberries, melons, mushrooms, French beans, potatoes, and a few nectarines and figs. Glass-house flowers were only a side line, partly because early fruit-growing left little time for growing flowers in winter, but chrysanthemums were grown to provide winter employment for nursery labourers. Robert Piper, probably the most extensive grower of early fruit in England, had the largest Worthing nursery of 16 a., with 105 glasshouses. (fn. 81)
The same kind of produce was grown for the same markets until the First World War. (fn. 82) By 1904 there were c. 81 a. of glass-houses in the borough, (fn. 83) and by 1909 there had been an increase in the number of glass-houses at Durrington and Salvington. (fn. 84) There were 82 fruit-growers by 1904, at whose instance railway charges had been reduced several times. There were four special fruit trains a week from Worthing, (fn. 85) and in 1905 a goods station was opened for the fruit traffic at West Worthing station. (fn. 86) The Worthing and District Growers Association was formed in 1910. (fn. 87)
During the First World War many vines were replaced by crops such as tomatoes, cucumbers, and lettuces, (fn. 88) and markets became more local. (fn. 89) In the late 1920s many grape-growers changed to other crops, (fn. 90) and building began to reduce the acreage under glass, especially round the centre of the town. (fn. 91) Worthing's early produce was still sold in London and the later produce in south coast seaside resorts. (fn. 92) Tomatoes were the main crop, (fn. 93) the Worthing tomato trade reaching its height after 1932, when an import duty was placed on them. (fn. 94) In 1931 most of Worthing's 1,513 male agricultural workers were employed in market-gardening. (fn. 95) There was a daily fruit train from the Worthing district in 1938. By then there had been a great increase in mushroom-growing, and many chrysanthemums, carnations, and orchids were also grown. (fn. 96) In 1928 Durrington was an important lavendergrowing district. (fn. 97)
During the Second World War most of the flowers were replaced by food crops, the tomato acreage being greatest in the 1940s. (fn. 98) In 1944 Farmers and Growers Ltd. (Fargro), a horticultural co-operative, was formed in West Worthing to order in bulk such items as fertilizers and insecticides for local growers. Later it marketed its members' products in bulk under its own brand name, and its head office remained in Worthing in 1976. (fn. 99)
After 1945 flowers replaced tomatoes as the main crop, especially from the late 1950s when local growers pioneered new equipment and lighting techniques. (fn. 100) Glass-house production remained the town's main industry in 1946, (fn. 101) but despite the corporation's wish to retain it in the town much land was sold for residential development (fn. 102) and glass-houses declined from 130 a. in 1949 to 42 a. in 1958. Of the 370 a. scheduled for market-gardening 132 a. had been released for other uses by 1955. (fn. 103) The market-gardens and glass-houses moved to the west and north of the borough, (fn. 104) and later further west outside the borough. (fn. 105) In 1976 there were c. 33 a. of nursery land and c. 10 a. of glass-houses in the borough, including the borough council nurseries of 11 a. and A. G. Linfield's Lyon Farm nursery of 27 a. (fn. 106) In 1978 Linfield's main glasshouse crops were mushrooms and peppers. (fn. 107)
Industry and trade.
Salt may have been extracted in Worthing in 1219, (fn. 108) and among other tradesmen recorded before the rise of the town are a tailor in 1583, (fn. 109) a mason in 1642, (fn. 110) carpenters in the 17th century, (fn. 111) a weaver in 1702, (fn. 112) a brewer in 1690, and a victualler in 1763. (fn. 113) In the 17th century Worthing shared in the coastal practice of plundering wrecked ships, and smuggling continued until the 1850s. (fn. 114)
About 1773 Thomas Wicks (fn. 115) was making red bricks in Worthing. He later discovered on Worthing common a blue clay exposed by sea erosion which made white or cream bricks. Those bricks were used to front many buildings in Worthing and elsewhere, (fn. 116) their production being still recorded in the early 1830s. (fn. 117) In the 1870s the Worthing Land Improvement Co. made bricks, and other brickmakers were recorded during the 19th century. (fn. 118) There were c. 4 firms of brick and tile makers in Worthing in 1905. (fn. 119) There were three brickyards at the west end of the town c. 1848, (fn. 120) and a brick company at Durrington in 1905, (fn. 121) but the main brickfields lay to the east in the late 19th century, (fn. 122) providing most of the bricks for the town's use until c. 1910. (fn. 123)
In 1791 the right to remove stones, gravel, and sand from Worthing beach was worth £5 to the lord of Broadwater. (fn. 124) In the early 1830s seaweed was collected for manure, as well as white stone which when burnt yielded good quality lime; (fn. 125) the collection of seaweed continued later. (fn. 126)
From c. 1800 trades recorded in Worthing reflected the demands of the growing resort. In 1798 only two shopkeepers were recorded there, besides a carpenter and a bricklayer. (fn. 127) By the 1820s there were over 30 shopkeepers dealing in foodstuffs and c. 20 in clothing, as well as jewellers, perfumers, booksellers, and stationers. There were also at least 12 people in the building trades, and 2 coachmakers. (fn. 128) Professional services also developed. A provident or savings bank established in 1817 was recorded until the 1880s. (fn. 129) Hawkins and Phillips's bank had failed by 1811. (fn. 130) The Worthing and Sussex, or Worthing and Steyning, (fn. 131) later Henty's bank was founded in Warwick Street in 1808. It was amalgamated with the Capital and Counties bank in 1896. (fn. 132) By the 1820s there were three attorneys in Worthing, and by c. 1830 there were also three house agents there. (fn. 133)
Both trades and professional services expanded with the town. Numbers employed in retail trades increased, as did the provision of fancy goods and services such as photography. (fn. 134) Several 19th-century firms were long-lived, including Potter, Bailey, and Co., grocers in High Street between 1837 and 1963, (fn. 135) and Bentalls department store, founded in 1875 (fn. 136) and surviving in 1978. Roberts & Son, wine merchants, founded in 1808, had branches throughout Sussex in 1978. (fn. 137) Up to c. 1860 Worthing's trade was restricted to the requirements of townspeople and visitors; there were no other commercial transactions or manufacturers. (fn. 138) Boatbuilding, recorded from 1859, was one of the few trades to gain business outside the town in the 19th century. (fn. 139) A clay-pipe-making industry, centred on Anchor Lane, later Lyndhurst Road, from the 1820s to the 1870s had only a local market. (fn. 140)
Between 1845 and 1849 the London and County Banking Co. established a branch in South Street, and there was a branch of the Hampshire Banking Co. in Warwick Street c. 1867. (fn. 141) A building society, later the Worthing Permanent Building Society, was established in 1851 and was merged with the Temperance Permanent Building Society in 1957. (fn. 142) The Worthing and Broadwater Mutual Building Society was recorded in the early 20th century. (fn. 143) By 1905 there were branches of all the major banks in the town, 11 solicitors, and 12 estate agents or surveyors. (fn. 144)
Industrial development was not encouraged in Worthing until after the Second World War, when the corporation recognized that further, less seasonal, sources of employment were needed as well as those offered by the resort. (fn. 145) Trading estates for light industries were established in the 1950s, east of the town, near West Worthing station, and south of the railway at Goring. Some of the estates were owned by the corporation and were used to relocate industries from other areas within Worthing. (fn. 146) Other firms were also encouraged to establish themselves in Worthing, the largest being Beecham Pharmaceuticals, whose chemical factory on the Broadwater trading estate was opened in 1960. Its premises were gradually extended, and the company employed c. 1,000 people there in 1967 and c. 2,000 by 1975. (fn. 147) Most of Worthing's industrial land, however, was occupied by smaller firms of many different sorts. (fn. 148)
By the mid 20th century Worthing's shopping hinterland included Horsham, Chichester, Bognor, and Shoreham; in 1977 it was estimated to contain 175,000 people. (fn. 149) The town centre then had a mixture of large shops, including department stores and chain stores, and smaller shops catering for visitors. There were also three large subsidiary shopping centres within the borough, at Broadwater, near West Worthing station, and at Goring Road, besides other groups of shops serving local needs.
Fishermen at Worthing or Broadwater were recorded from the 16th century, (fn. 150) and some farmers were also fishermen. (fn. 151) In 1763 Worthing supplied Dorking (Surr.) with fish (fn. 152) and in 1773 there was said to be a 'great fishery' at Worthing. (fn. 153) In the 1790s mackerel were caught in the spring and herring in the autumn, (fn. 154) and in 1804 mackerel, shrimps, lobsters, and crabs were specially noted. (fn. 155) Brighton and Worthing boats also dragged a large oyster bed discovered in 1823 three or four miles south-south-west of Worthing. (fn. 156) By the early 19th century Worthing's fishing industry had expanded as a result of improved roads, (fn. 157) and fish was sent to Horsham and other neighbouring towns. (fn. 158) The main catch was mackerel, large quantities of which were sent to London, and herring, but sole, skate, whiting, and other fish were also caught, besides shrimps. (fn. 159) Fish was sold on the beach by Dutch auction. (fn. 160)
Worthing boats fished off the south-west and east coasts of England during the 19th century. (fn. 161) By 1849 there were 25 large boats besides a number of smaller boats for inshore fishing, (fn. 162) but by 1859 the industry had declined, and was mainly confined to mackerel and herring fishing. (fn. 163)
Between 1855 and 1864 the annual amount of fish carried by train from Worthing fluctuated between 97 tons and 7 tons, (fn. 164) and between 1882 and 1901 between 123 tons and 10 tons. (fn. 165) In 1887 there were four boats over 15 tons and 13 smaller boats, and fishing was mainly by drift nets and trawling. (fn. 166) By 1897 there were one large and seven smaller boats, (fn. 167) and in 1903 there were 14 smaller ones. (fn. 168) Nearly 170 tons of fish, excluding shellfish, were landed in 1899. (fn. 169) In 1905 the main catch was still mackerel and herring, although prawns, sole, whiting, cod, and plaice were also caught, (fn. 170) and 52 tons of fish, excluding shellfish, were landed in 1914. (fn. 171) In 1887 93 men and 17 boys were employed in fishing, (fn. 172) but between 1900 and 1931 the number thus occupied fell to less than 40. (fn. 173) The industry declined further, (fn. 174) and by 1951 it employed less than 10 men. (fn. 175)
The mill furlong in Worthing's east field was recorded in 1616 and 1635, (fn. 176) and the mill field in 1718. (fn. 177) A post windmill was built between 1805 and 1807 at the south-west corner of the Teville common. (fn. 178) It was known as Worthing mill in 1810, (fn. 179) the Teville mill in 1814, (fn. 180) and afterwards as Cross Street mill. (fn. 181) In 1881 it was moved east of the town to a site later covered by Seamill Park Crescent. (fn. 182) Between 1806 and 1813 a windmill was built on the west side of Ham Road at its southern end. (fn. 183) At first known as Hide's mill, (fn. 184) it was later the northern of the two Navarino windmills named after the battle of 1827, both of which were tower mills. (fn. 185) The south Navarino windmill was built in 1831 (fn. 186) and remained in use in 1896. (fn. 187) There was a windmill east of the Navarino mills in 1875 and 1896. All four windmills had been demolished by 1909. (fn. 188)
Market and fairs.
Under an Act of 1809 (fn. 189) a market was opened in 1810 at the instance of Edward Ogle between Ann and Market streets. (fn. 190) Saturday was the principal market day, (fn. 191) but there was also a market on Tuesdays and Thursdays, (fn. 192) and a daily market for fish and vegetables. (fn. 193) Although it was at first greatly admired (fn. 194) the market was no longer much used in 1849 except on Saturdays, (fn. 195) perhaps as a result of mismanagement, (fn. 196) and in 1850 it was described as comparatively useless, the principal tradesmen occupying their own shops. (fn. 197) It was overtaken by London and Brighton markets; (fn. 198) the tolls gradually declined and the building, dilapidated by 1859, was sold by the local board in 1863 to Edward Snewin, a builder, (fn. 199) whose firm used it as a builder's yard (fn. 200) until it was demolished in 1969. (fn. 201) The market had gateways with iron gates at either end. The elevation in Market Street was of red brick and that in Ann Street of white brick. Inside there were stalls on each side of a paved quadrangle, which had a pump in the centre. (fn. 202)
After 1810 a weekly corn market was held in a near-by inn. (fn. 203) A fortnightly corn market recorded from 1831 (fn. 204) was later held in the corn exchange built near the railway station in 1852. By the 1860s the building was used mainly as a store, and it later developed into a farmer's shop and warehouse. From 1904 it was a depot for such things as peat and packaging materials for the market-gardens. (fn. 205) It was demolished in 1962. (fn. 206)