Former mushroom firm boss remembered

Chris Darlington had many friends in the Worthing area in the 1960s and 1970s
Chris Darlington had many friends in the Worthing area in the 1960s and 1970s

A leading light in a family mushroom business in years gone by has died at the age of 78.

Chris Darlington had many friends in the Worthing area in the 1960s and 1970s, when his family had a major business employing many people.

He died on December 10, 2017, in Sarasota, Florida, where he had lived since 1982 with his wife Eleanor. He had suffered from vascular dementia and Parkinson’s for the last eight years of his life.

Chris was born in Worthing on July 23, 1939. He attended Broadwater Preparatory school and Ardingly College before joining the 1st Battalion of the Royal Sussex Regiment and serving two years on active duty in Ireland.

Like his older brothers Harold and Bob, Chris was a director of mushroom cultivists W. Darlington & Sons, which was based in Southcourt Road, Worthing, and provided mushroom spawn to customers across the world.

The family redeveloped a site off Station Road, Angmering, with distinctively-shaped sheds for mushroom production.

In the 1980s, Darlington & Sons was producing 60,000lbs of mushrooms a week, with a turnover of £12 million per year. The company was later sold to Heinz and today, Darlington Court Care Home occupies part of the site.

Peter Clifford, whose father was senior partner at Worthing solicitors Marsh and Ferriman, was a good friend for more than 50 years.

Peter said: “Chris was a very old friend. My family and his family were very close. My father used to do legal work for the Darlingtons.

“I used to stay with Chris in New York, when he was living there, and in Florida, and we shared a house together one summer in Newport, Rhode Island.

“Chris was delighted that Darlington Court was named after his family, since that is where they had their mushroom farm.”

Chris worked in various cities in France, Canada and Barbados before moving to New York and then settling in Florida.

He and Eleanor, a well-known artist and activist in Sarasota, travelled throughout the world. They had two daughters, Lori and Lisa.

Chris was an avid soccer fan and enjoyed playing backgammon and racquetball.

He is remembered for his quirky and ironic sense of humour. He always enjoyed a good game of poker, a fine gourmet meal and a vintage bottle of wine.