Cornwall & The South: Pt 30 – Bognor Regis

We soon arrived in the town of Bognor Regis, for a right royal visit…

Bognor Regis:

Status: Arun District, West Sussex, Town, England

Date: 09/08/2015

Travel: Car

Eating & Sleeping: N/A

Attractions: Bognor Pier, Bognor Beach, Town Hall, War Memorial, Esplanade, Sun Sculpture (Former) etc

Bognor Regis is perhaps most famous for an off the cuff remark King George V (1865 – 1936) supposedly made in 1929. After World War I he was an ill man, suffering from injuries from the Great War, and his love of Smoking. He took a cruise on the Mediterranean in 1925, on the advice of his Doctors, however his illness persisted, and the King refused to leave the county a second time. He was instead sent to Bognor, on the Sussex Coast to recuperate in the sea air.

There are two versions of what happened next:

  1. When asked to bestow the title of Regis on the town for helping him recuperate he said…
  2. Or when years later he had recovered enough that he could go back to Bognor for a visit he said…

“Bugger Bognor”. Whether or not he genuinely said it or not nobody knows, however it has been a talking point for the town ever since. To be honest, by the end of our trip we thought Bognor was a pretty decent place to have a holiday, and this is why…

Bognor 1

Bognors most famous landmark is the Pier, built by the Bognor Promenade Company Ltd in 1865. Originally the landward end was marked by a small building, which was later enlarged in 1912 and contained everything from Shops to a Theatre.

It was mirrored at the other end by a Pavilion from 1900, to which a landing stage was added in 1901 for paddle steamers to dock. It was later enlarged in 1936. Unfortunately this section of the pier collapsed in 1965 after a series of storms, with the loss of both the landing stage and the Pavilion. Further storms in 1999 and 2008 saw the Pier reduced in length even more, leaving it as a stub of it’s former self. It’s still a great place to visit however, and contains a cafe, amusement park, and some nice sea views.

The Pier offers a stunning view up the promenade, past the Groins and the holiday makers. It is genuinely nice round here, a great resort by the sea.

Much like Brighton further along the coast, the character of the town is most obvious along the esplanade. Grand houses and hotels overlook the sea, many of which were built in the Victorian Era. The town itself expanded rapidly through the rest of the century, as the railways arrived in 1864, bringing with them people from the big cities who wanted to get away from it all and holiday by the sea. The King’s visit in the 1920’s made the resort even more popular, and a new Butlins opened here in 1960, having already had a presence in the town since the 1930’s.

Bognor 4

Just over the road from the Pier is a charming mix of a town green, miniature golf course and parkland, which makes for a great spot to relax and unwind.

Bognor 5

Heading towards the High Street from here, we arrived at the junction where West Street meets the end of the High Street itself.

On the corner sits the Bognor Regis Methodist Church, whilst to it’s left is the “Unicorn Hotel”, which originally opened as the “Bedford Hotel” in the 1870’s. A small drinking fountain was installed between it and the Church in 1886, in memory of Doctor Charles Osborn, a local man.

Bognor 6

Heading up High Street, we came across the iconic “Sun Sculpture” which sits at the entrance to the pedestrianised street which spurs off from the High Street.

Designed by Pete Codling, it has stood here since 2006, and represents a number of things:

1: “Bucgren”, the Saxon Queen who founded a fishing village here centuries ago, the first settlement on the site of what became Bognor Regis.

2: Bognor is actually supposed to be the sunniest place in Britain, with the highest average of sunshine hours per year.

It was only when writing this post however that I found out it was actually removed in January of this year, due to rising maintenance costs. It had proved divisive in the town since it was installed, with some loving it, and some hating it. You can now find it at the University of Portsmouth: Ravelin Park Campus.

Bognor 7

Coming off the end of the High Street, we cut through to Bognors fine Neo-Georgian Town Hall, of 1929. Designed by Charles Cowles-Voysey (1889 – 1981, London Architect), it is the proud home of Bognor Regis Town Council, who meet in the grand Council Chamber.

Other notable sections of the building include the cupola on the roof, with a squat Clock Tower and a Copper Dome, and the main staircase inside the entrance.

Outside in the forecourt sits the Bognor War Memorial, built after World War I in memory of all the brave soldiers from the town who died in defence of their country. Thanks to the recent efforts of some local school children, the monument is now officially Listed, protecting it for the future.

Bognor 8

Coming full circle back to the Promenade, we emerged outside the Edwardian Bandstand, probably erected at the turn of the 20th century.

Bognor is a rather pretty town, and I would imagine King George V would have had a rather relaxing time when he visited all those years ago. The beach is lovely, and the sun beams down on you in all areas of the town.

The A27 which runs from Eastbourne in the East to the M27 at Portsmouth is a major road in the area, whilst both Chichester & Brighton are also nearby. Local trains connect up to the mainline between Southampton & Brighton, as well as further afield.

It was time to move on, and we moved from Bognor to Brighton, from the sunniest town in England, to the happiest…

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