Pipework and flower baskets – changes to Worthing’s Burlington Hotel

The Burlington Hotel
The Burlington Hotel

The Burlington Hotel – originally the Heene Hotel, and later the West Worthing – was built in 1864–5 as part of a scheme to develop West Worthing as a separate resort.

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the hotel’s opening.

Picture 1 ' A 19th-century photograph showing the Burlington Hotel before the alterations to the ground floor and removal of the cornice in 1910

Picture 1 ' A 19th-century photograph showing the Burlington Hotel before the alterations to the ground floor and removal of the cornice in 1910

By a curious coincidence, its brand-new next-door neighbour, the Premier Inn, is the first purpose-built hotel to be built on Worthing seafront since then.

Also built between 1864 and 1866 were Heene Parade (later the Beach Hotel), Heene Terrace, and the Heene Road swimming baths (demolished in 1973).

However West Worthing never flourished as a separate entity, and in 1890 it became part of the Borough of Worthing.

The photographs that accompany this article tell a story of small changes to the structure of the hotel – and indeed help to date the changes.

Picture 2 ' A postcard from c. 1908 showing the Burlington Hotel before the alterations to the ground floor and removal of the cornice in 1910

Picture 2 ' A postcard from c. 1908 showing the Burlington Hotel before the alterations to the ground floor and removal of the cornice in 1910

Pictures 1 to 6 are arranged in chronological order, while the hotel’s self-published postcards – pictures 7 to 12 – are arranged in a visual sequence, from furthest to closest.

At first sight the hotel’s postcards, which are all in the same style, look as if they are contemporary with one another; but on closer examination this proves not to be the case, as we shall see in a moment.

Pictures 1 and 2 show the hotel with its original ground-floor southern façade.

In 1910 – rather, I think, than in 1911, as I have seen suggested elsewhere – the ground floor façade underwent significant alterations, and the attractive cornice above was removed.

Picture 3 ' A Harold Camburn view of 1910, taken just after the ground floor alterations were completed

Picture 3 ' A Harold Camburn view of 1910, taken just after the ground floor alterations were completed

Picture 3 – a Harold Camburn postcard that can be dated with confidence to late 1910 – shows the hotel just after the ground floor alterations had been completed.

At this stage nothing has yet been done to the first floor, the changes to which seem to have been made after the Great War.

Picture 4, which dates from around 1920, clearly shows a new small window about half way along the balcony, and there is also now a double pipe running diagonally from left to right in the middle of the wall.

The earliest of the hotel’s own postcards – Pictures 9, 10 and 11 – again show the small window and the pipes, and therefore probably also date from around 1920.

Picture 4 ' A view of c. 1920, with pipework but no flowers on the balcony

Picture 4 ' A view of c. 1920, with pipework but no flowers on the balcony

Although the detail on Picture 5 – the first of the two colour postcards – is indistinct, it is possible under magnification to see that, in addition to the diagonal pipes, there are also now three hanging baskets of flowers.

I have a monochrome version of the postcard in Picture 5 with a May 5, 1923 postmark, and my guess is that the pipes and flowers “co-existed” for just two or three years in the early 1920s.

By the time the photographs were taken for Pictures 6, 7 and 12, the pipework has been removed, but the hanging baskets remain. These postcards probably date from the mid to late 1920s.

On Picture 8 – chronologically the last of the hotel’s own postcards, and probably dating from around 1930 – the hanging baskets have gone, and there is a safety barrier at the western end of the first floor balcony.

This safety barrier is something of a mystery, since there is no barrier along the front of the balcony.

The photograph at the top of the page, which probably dates from the 1940s, is the most recent. As well as the safety barrier on the corner, there is now a wooden partition half way along the balcony.

Picture 5 ' A rare view of c. 1922, with both pipework and flower baskets on the balcony

Picture 5 ' A rare view of c. 1922, with both pipework and flower baskets on the balcony

It is the only picture accompanying this article on which the art deco Beach Hotel that “encased” Heene Parade in 1935-6 is the building to the east of the Burlington.

So there we are. This short article has examined the early 20th-century changes to the south façade of the Burlington Hotel in more detail than is likely to be of interest to any sane person – but I am glad to have been of service.

Picture 6 ' A scene from the mid to late 1920s, with the pipework now gone

Picture 6 ' A scene from the mid to late 1920s, with the pipework now gone

Picture 7 ' One of the hotel's own postcards from the mid to late 1920s (flowers, no pipework)

Picture 7 ' One of the hotel's own postcards from the mid to late 1920s (flowers, no pipework)

Picture 8 ' Another of the hotel's own postcards from c. 1930 (safety barrier, no flowers or pipework)

Picture 8 ' Another of the hotel's own postcards from c. 1930 (safety barrier, no flowers or pipework)

Picture 9 ' Another card published by the Burlington, this time c. 1920 ' there is pipework on the balcony wall, but no sign yet of the three flower baskets

Picture 9 ' Another card published by the Burlington, this time c. 1920 ' there is pipework on the balcony wall, but no sign yet of the three flower baskets

Picture 10 ' Another card published by the Burlington, this time c. 1920 ' there is pipework on the balcony wall, but no sign yet of the three flower baskets

Picture 10 ' Another card published by the Burlington, this time c. 1920 ' there is pipework on the balcony wall, but no sign yet of the three flower baskets