Free guided walks reveal hidden gems of Worthing’s past

Volunteers from the Worthing Heritage Trails project enjoy a guided walk on Highdown
Volunteers from the Worthing Heritage Trails project enjoy a guided walk on Highdown

This summer a team of Worthing Heritage Trail guides will be leading a free walk around the heart of historic Worthing.

The circular walk will take place every Sunday afternoon and Wednesday evening.

Chris Hare, Worthing Heritage Trails project manager

Chris Hare, Worthing Heritage Trails project manager

These walks are a culmination of the Worthing Heritage Trails project, which has published 12 Worthing Heritage Trail leaflets over the past two years.

The volunteer guides have been meeting throughout the dark, damp days of winter, to plan a route around the town centre that will include aspects of five of the published trails.

The circular route, which begins and ends at The Denton by Worthing Pier, will last an hour and a half, and include some of the hidden gems of Worthing’s past.

The route will snake down old twittens and pass by historic buildings, with the guides explaining the colourful Worthing story as they go.

Jo Hooper, head gardener at Highdown

Jo Hooper, head gardener at Highdown

The guide team includes people strongly rooted in the life and traditions of Worthing.

Colin Bolton will be known to many for his numerous acting roles in the town, especially as the churchwarden in last year’s hugely popular community play ‘The Just Cause’, performed at Christ Church.

Sue Standing has been involved in a number of heritage projects in the town and is a Nordic walking guide.

Colin Walton studied history at university and is the co-founder of the Worthing Pubs website – www.worthingpubs.com

The Miller's Tomb on Highdown Hill, one of the Heritage Trail features

The Miller's Tomb on Highdown Hill, one of the Heritage Trail features

George Woolard has lived in the town since 1973 and is heavily involved in local charities, including Guild Care, for whom he is a volunteer driver.

Former Worthing mayor Tom Wye is also part of the team and will be taking part when time allows.

Worthing Heritage Trails project manager Chris Hare, who organised the training sessions over the winter months, will also be leading some of the walks.

Chris believes that even long-term Worthing residents will be surprised at the hidden history the walk will reveal: “We will be walking down old passageways that many people never knew existed and offering new insights into the unexpected history of our town – there will something for everyone.”

It was a sunny day for the walk at Highdown

It was a sunny day for the walk at Highdown

If this town centre trail is successful, other guide-led trails will be organised next summer in other parts of the town.

There are many potential routes to choose from.

As well as the recently published Cissbury and Highdown trails, self-guided leaflets have been published to cover the heritage of Broadwater, Broadwater Cemetery, Tarring, Goring, and Durrington and Salvington.

There are also four town centre trails and a fifth dedicated to town centre pubs – for those who like to end their walk with a pint.

The guide-led walk will take place twice a week from late May until mid-September on Sunday afternoons and Wednesday evenings.

The Sunday walk will begin at 3.30pm and end at 5pm, while the Thursday evening walk will begin at 7pm and end at 8.30pm.

The Worthing Heritage Trails were funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund

The Worthing Heritage Trails were funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund

The first walk took place on Sunday, May 24, and the last walk will be on Wednesday, September 16.

The Worthing Heritage Trails were created by the Worthing Heritage Alliance – a consortium of local voluntary and amenity societies – and funded by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

This funding has now come to an end, but Worthing Borough Council has stepped into the breach and will be meeting the cost of all future reprints.

Chris believes that the Heritage Trails will help people of all ages, whether residents or visitors, to learn more about Worthing’s history: “Combining the printed leaflets with the guide-led walk and the further information that appears on the website, really does build up to an excellent resource for all those with a love for history and desire know more about Worthing’s heritage.”

Project guides, researchers, and supporters gathered at Highdown Gardens last month to celebrate the completion of the last Heritage Trail, on Highdown, and to enjoy a talk by head gardener Jo Hooper about the history of the gardens.

Later, Chris Hare led the party on a guided tour of Highdown Hill.

All 12 Worthing Heritage Trails are available at a cost of 50p each from The Denton, Worthing Museum, and Worthing Library.

They are also available, along with accompanying videos, on the project website – www.worthingheritagetrails.org.uk