I was interested to read Sheila O’Neill’s letter a week or so ago in which she asked what Worthing has to offer visitors when it’s cold, wet and windy.
That got me to thinking what it has to offer when the weather’s hot and sunny. Apart from the beach, promenade and new pool, I couldn’t come up with a lot.
I daresay many people have urged Worthing to Think Big over the past 50 years.
On the whole the town seems to have shrugged its shoulders and got on with life.
But if it’s to make its mark as an appealing destination that can pull in visitors from near and far in the 21st century, it’ll need to think a lot more dynamically.
I’ve long thought the town needs a “Grand Projet” to revitalise it. Nothing as grandiose as any of President Mitterrand’s gifts to Paris perhaps, but just as creative and well-designed.
So my suggestion for Worthing is a splendid state-of-the-art museum in a breathtaking setting that tells the story of the Sussex Downs and the Sussex coast in a way that’s never been done before and has long deserved to be.
What could be more appropriate than Worthing for something like that?
The museum’s permanent displays would feature the basic elements of the two regions: their topography and geology; rivers and coastal waters; flora and fauna; towns and villages; history and archaeology as well as their occupations, industry and trade over the centuries.
All the fascinating topics one could imagine would be covered in special exhibits. Flint mines, burial mounds and hill-forts would feature in the Downland section along with sheep-farming, shepherds and dew ponds. The coastal section would highlight ports and resorts, shipbuilding and smuggling, storms and shipwrecks, fishing and farming and much else besides.
Other displays would focus on folklore and witchcraft, customs and traditions, dress and dialect, warfare and weaponry and reveal how artists, writers and poets have portrayed the Sussex Downs and coast over the centuries.
So, to lift our spirits and enable us to share some of the wonders of Sussex with the rest of the country and the world, I’m proposing nothing less than a major new cultural attraction for Worthing:
The Museum of the South Downs and Sussex Coast.