LITTLEHAMPTON’S Longest Bench has an added reason to celebrate its first birthday this month.
The recorded-breaking bench has been given high praise at this year’s Sussex Heritage Trust Awards.
Judges praised the 342m-long bench and commended its designers for building something iconic and “imaginative.”
Running between two steel shelters, the bench is made from roughly 9,000 colourful wooden and steel slats and is the longest seaside bench in Britain.
More than 400 personally engraved messages, ranging from a marriage proposal and anniversaries, to birthday messages and loving tributes, have been added to the bench.
One judge during the ceremony said: “The Longest Bench, an imaginative and brave design, links the Littlehampton seafront with the land behind it, giving a very positive identity to the community.”
A certificate for the design, in the Public and Community category of the awards, was presented to Arun District Council vice-chairman Ann Smee at the awards ceremony, at West Dean. She said: “It was an honour to accept the award in recognition of our Longest Bench. It’s become an iconic landmark in Littlehampton and one the town is very proud of.”
Supporters describe the structure as a “celebration of the seaside”. The weaving and looping has been designed to capture the excitement of a sunny day on the shore as well as the rolling waves of a stormy sea.
The whole project was made possible by a large private donation from Gordon Roddick in memory of his late wife Dame Anita, founder of The Body Shop, and funding from central government.
The bench forms part of Littlehampton’s Seafront Strategy, drawn up by leading architect Sir Terry Farrell to improve the town’s public spaces and add to its regeneration.
The initial money was not enough to extend the bench the full length of the promenade, from Harbour Park to the East Beach Café.
The drive to complete the bench is now being spearheaded by Jane Wood, of the East Beach Café.
There are still slats available to buy and engrave. For details, call 01903 737844 or visit www.arun.gov.uk/thelongbench