worthing history
 

© FREDDIE FEEST 2012

 
Goring at the Crossroads
 
       
 
HOW TIMES CHANGE: Difficult to believe that where this roundabout sprawls across the Littlehampton Road, at Goring, used to be one of the most popular locations in the south of England for picture postcard photographers. Thousands of postcards depicting the Goring crossroads (or Crossways as it was called in those days) were sent all over the world, telling their recipients that the writer was spending “a lovely time in this countryside near Worthing”. I took this picture while facing towards the west. In the background is the only building left from the old days, a preserved flint barn that has now become The Swallows Return pub and restaurant.
 
QUIET CORNER: As late as 1964, Littlehampton Road was a single carriageway in each direction. Limbrick Lane goes off to the right and today this is known as Yeoman’s Corner.
 
SIGNS OF THE TIMES: By 1935, when this picture of Goring Crossways was taken for the Worthing Herald, first signs of re-development in the area (“For sale” boards) were evident. The caption stated, “Proposals for transforming the rural character of the western end of Littlehampton Road into a modern arterial thoroughfare are going before the town council this month”.
 
ALE CHANGE: Goring Crossways, looking west and pictured from approximately the same spot in the early 1900s. The old flint barn in the right background, on the north side of Littlehampton Road and the sole survivor from those days, is now a pub and restaurant. Titnore Lane goes off to the right.
 
THATCHED VIEW: Another postcard view of Goring Crossways. More than 20 different ones were published over 50 years, turning the thatched old tollhouse into a local icon recognised in many parts of the British Empire during the 1920s and 30s.

     Today, the roundabout where Titnore Lane joins up with the dual carriageways of Littlehampton Road and Goring Street is alive from morning ’til night with the hustle, bustle and roar of cars, lorries and buses. It is now one of the most consistently busy traffic junctions in the borough of Worthing.

     What a startling contrast with 40 years ago, when the occasional motorised visitor to the same area had to negotiate narrow country lanes and give due regard to pedestrians taking an afternoon stroll amid the green and leafy countryside.
    JUST how much change there has been here in half an average person’s lifetime is emphasised by the pictures below of the area 40 years and more ago, of what was then known as Goring Crossways.
     Compare them with the picture top left taken last week of the roundabout that now sprawls across the same area, with its dual-carriageway tentacles reaching southwards to Worthing, eastwards towards Broadwater and westwards in the direction of Littlehampton.
     Nor must one forget the possibility that in the near future there may be another, broadened, “tentacle” leading northwards towards the 800 new homes planned next to Titnore Lane.
     During the first half of the last century, in the heyday of the scenic picture postcard, Goring Crossways (or crossroads as it eventually became) was one of the most popular local views, portrayed from every possible direction and reproduced on thousands of postcards sent by local visitors to many parts of the world.
     That so many photographers chose to picture a crossroads in Goring owed much to the presence at the junction of an attractive thatched cottage, once used as a tollhouse. It was the demolition of this landmark cottage, in August, 1938, that signalled the beginning of several major redevelopment schemes across Goring.
     As it happened, the outbreak of World War Two in 1939 delayed plans for five years, but as soon as peace returned, the implementation of several arterial road and house-building schemes swept away many more picturesque buildings in old Goring, some of them dating back hundreds of years. Local residents raised strong objections as each one was turned into a pile of rubble.
     Thankfully, the flint barns at the foot of Highdown managed to survive the sweeping changes of the intervening years and in recent times have been sympathetically transformed into The Swallow’s Return pub and restaurant. But little else of the countryside charm of this area did survive, as the old photographs on this page show only too clearly.
     As late as 1965, the road between Worthing and Littlehampton was still devoid of even a white traffic line down its centre and like so many roads in “old” Goring, was prone to flooding. Negotiating such a road on a wet and foggy winter’s night was an experience I would hate to repeat today!