The new Premier Inn, due to open in a few months’ time, is the first purpose-built hotel in the heart of Worthing or on the seafront for exactly 150 years.
The previous such hotel was the Premier Inn’s immediate neighbour, the Burlington – originally the Heene, and then the West Worthing – which opened in 1865.
With the exception of these two hotels – and two built in the reign of George IV, the Marine (1825-1965) and the Royal (1826-1901) – every important hotel in Worthing’s history grew to its final size as the result of its proprietors playing “Hotel Monopoly” with old houses in Georgian or Victorian terraces.
Among hotels that are gone, this applied to the Esplanade, the Eardley, Warne’s, and the Beach (a Victorian terrace given an art deco “cladding” in the 1930s).
A fine terrace
Among hotels that still survive, it applies to the Chatsworth (although the southern end is the former Steyne Hotel), the Ardington – and the Travelodge (formerly the Berkeley), which is the subject of this article.
The Travelodge’s central section was originally a handsome four-storey Victorian terrace, numbered 86-94 Marine Parade (55-63 until 1880).
The eastern end of the Travelodge occupies 84-5 Marine Parade, two less tall four-storey terraced houses; and the western end occupies No. 95, a substantial three-storey end-of-terrace house.
Unlike many of the other 19th-century terraces along Marine Parade – Cambridge Terrace, Imperial Terrace, Prince’s Terrace, and so on – Nos 86-94 never had a terrace name of its own.
Therefore, for the sake of convenience, I will from now on refer to it as the “main terrace” of today’s Travelodge.
My impression from entries in old directories is that the “main terrace” was built over the course of several years from around 1869 – and that the reason that the 1870 engraving reproduced at the top of page 84 depicts only the eastern end is that this was all that had been completed by then.
Sadly, the façade of the “main terrace” has over the years been much altered, and it is no longer the handsome and homogeneous structure it originally was.
Like many Victorian terraces on Worthing seafront, the houses in the “main terrace” were built with lodging-house use in mind – and most of them were bought, when new, by people who immediately used them for that purpose.
The only significant exception was that during the 1880s a preparatory school – run initially by Miss Hoggins and later by the Misses Read – operated from one (and for a brief period two) of the houses.
During the 20th century there was a gradual move away from the “lodging-house” or “boarding-house” concept towards establishments called “private hotels”.
The technical difference between a boarding-house and a lodging-house, incidentally, was that the former provided only accommodation, while the latter also provided food (“board”) – but the terms were sometimes used interchangeably.
Meanwhile, a private hotel differed from a “common inn” – that is to say, an entirely “public” hotel – if any of the following applied: it did not provide food and/or drink; it reserved the right to pick and choose who it accepted, even if it had a free room; it had an advertised policy concerning acceptability of guests (for example, “no children”); and it required guests to book in advance.
In some cases, a small Worthing hotel happily occupied just a single large terraced house for many years; but the more successful establishments expanded by buying up neighbouring properties.
Here is a summary of what happened during the course of the last 100 years or so to the terraced houses that today comprise the Travelodge.
Between 1900 and the start of the Great War, most of the houses in the “main terrace” were listed in directories of the period as “apartments” – presumably holiday flats – rather than as “lodging-houses”.
The main exception was Nos 93-4, which between about 1901 and 1920 was the Carlton House Boarding Establishment, under the proprietorship of Miss Kent.
It was around 1925 that the Berkeley Hotel made its first appearance. It originally occupied three houses in the main terrace – Nos 89-91 – and was run by Percival Alexander.
Around 1930 No. 92 was acquired, and by 1955 the Berkeley, by now owned by Major C. G. Osland, also included Nos 93-4.
Meanwhile, around 1927, No 85 – the house just to the east of the “main terrace” – became the Castle Private Hotel, run by Mrs M. Allan-Power, who had also acquired No. 84 by 1933.
A couple of years later, the Castle became Alexander’s Hotel, and the hotel traded under this name until at least 1975, and probably for longer.
After the war
It was also around 1927 that No. 86 became the Grosvenor Private Hotel, run by Messrs Graddon and Mullins. About ten years later the Grosvenor, by now owned by Mrs Peat, acquired No. 87.
After the Second World War, the Grosvenor was bought by Mr and Mrs A. D. Skelton, who in the early fifties converted the premises into “furnished flatlets” – and this remained the case until the Grosvenor was taken over by the Berkeley at the start of the 1960s.
In the late forties, No. 88 was the Parade Hotel, but by 1955 the Parade had followed the Grosvenor into the “flatlets” business.
Then, like the Grosvenor, it became part of the Berkeley at the start of the sixties, under the expansionist regime of Major Osland.
In 1963 the major sold his new enlarged hotel to M. F. North Hotels Ltd.
At the western end of the Travelodge block – that is, next to West Street – the Whitehall Private Hotel had opened at No. 95 around 1920; and the Whitehall continued to trade there for over half a century under successive proprietors, including Mrs G. Cheseman, Alfred J. Hayden, Frank Kitto, D. F. and G. M. E. Price, and C. H. and P. B. Hoskins.
As late as the mid-seventies, the Berkeley had not yet acquired either the Whitehall or Alexander’s – but, since the last street directory for Worthing was published in 1975, I have not been able to establish when the Berkeley added these two hotels to its curtilage. Perhaps a Herald & Gazette reader knows?
Certainly the Berkeley had reached its final form when, in March, 2008, the hotel – by this time owned by Guy Clinch, brother of Michael Clinch, managing director of the Chatsworth – was sold to Travelodge.
Four of the postcards reproduced on these two pages were sent by people staying at hotels mentioned in this article.
What they write is not hugely informative, but the guests generally seemed well satisfied.
The postcard showing the Berkeley, the Grosvenor and the Castle was sent on May 7, 1931, by GH to a friend in Bournemouth.
GH – who was staying at the Grosvenor, which is marked with an “X” – says that he or she is staying in Worthing for three weeks and is “very much better”.
“Very lucky in choice of hotel,” GH continues. “ Good food and cooking. Pleasant people.”
The postcard of a section of Marine Parade seen from the west was sent on May 12, 1957, by Susan Dann to her brother Alan, who was boarding at Woodbridge School in Suffolk.
Like GH, Susan – who, to judge from her handwriting, was about ten – put a cross on the front of her card.
“I have put a cross where our hotel is,” she writes. “It’s called the Berkeley. Daddy is at the Cavendish, which is quite near [at 113-116 Marine Parade]. We have a TV near our bedroom, which is on the ground floor.”
In 1957, many families still had no television at home, hence perhaps Susan’s special mention of its presence.
One slightly wonders why her father was staying at a different hotel.
Perhaps the Berkeley was full – or perhaps Susan’s parents were separated or divorced, but had come to Worthing to give their daughter a brief holiday.
The aerial view of the Berkeley was sent on April 24, 1967, to Miss J. Waters of Ramsgate by someone who signed with semi-illegible initials.
The sender, who, like GH, seems to have come to Worthing for health reasons, writes: “Arrived here OK. Weather quite good. This is where we are staying. Everything OK. I am feeling much better, eating and sleeping well.”
Finally, the postcard of the Whitehall Hotel was sent on June 9, 1970, by Annie to Miss K. Parker of Marchwood, Southampton.
“This is where we are staying,” Annie writes. “Food is very good. Weather is lovely. Very nice to be waited on.”
It is, incidentally, always amusing to reflect on the grandiose names that were – and indeed are – regularly given to modest hotels in seaside towns.
This article, covering only a short section of Worthing seafront, has mentioned the Berkeley, the Grosvenor, the Cavendish, and Carlton House.
Only the Castle is an anomaly – not least because, although famous for many things, Worthing has always been rather short on castles.