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Changing Times | Town contains plenty of sites of former pubs

I have remarked in previous months that, for many people, a public house or inn is often used as a method of providing directions to the pedestrian or motorist, which can prove difficult when these premises change their names.


However, what about those premises that have either changed their use or just vanished from our view? How many can you remember?


Looking at our High Street for changes, one major change was that of the York Inn, which was situated on the site which in 1984 became The Body Shop and is now Cubit and West.


Originally built in 1830 as a ‘Post House,’ in 1839 it was described as a wine cellar and owned by James Smith, owner of York House, which was situated next door.


it then became a public house and was decorated in glazed green tiles in the style of Brickwoods Brewery, many of which have survived the changes to its present use.


there were, though, other public houses that have completely vanished from our town many years ago, and which will be remembered by only a few.


There was The Anchor, which was situated at No 48 High Street and was privately owned as a small beer house from 1877. Here again, the licence was not renewed from 1907 and the building became occupied by an estate agent until it was demolished in 1974 to make way for the new shops.



Another historical building was that of the Gordon Arms, which was built about 1790 and was used as the town’s first post office. In 1840, it was purchased and opened as an ale house. However, the licence ceased about 1880 when it became a private residence known as Derby House. It was situated on the corner of the High Street and Lyon Street and joined on to Valhalla. Derby House was demolished in 1939 with the widening of Lyon Street.


Other premises have existed in some of our smaller side streets. Let us look at the Coach and Horses in Bedford Street. The land was formerly owned by Sir Richard Hotham but was purchased in 1820 by James Tomsett from South Bersted who constructed the building.


It continued as a public house until 1979 when it closed to make way for the many changes that were planned in the vicinity. However, it wasn’t demolished until 1996 and today this site is occupied by two small warehouses which face the back of New Look, while overlooking the car park of Morrisons.


Another site that was hidden away was The Crown, situated in Manor Place behind the Royal Hotel. Some reports claim this was one of the oldest in the town, while others shown in this article show the facts to be different.


It was built about 1830 and again owned by the Bersted family of Tomsett and it is believed that it was the haunt of sailors and smugglers.


Before the First World War, it was used by the Coach and Horses Club, which consisted of a group of gentlemen who met socially. While it closed for a couple of years at the end of the 1970s, it reopened and continued for a number of years. It finally closed and was renovated and transformed into flatlets.


The Tomsett family owned yet another premise, that of the Elephant and Castle in Steyne Street. This was opened in the 1850s and continued until 1970 when it was closed before demolition as part of the major clearance in that area as it became built up with flats and the current health centre.


Another pub in Steyne Street that was lost with this land clearance of the 1970s was the King’s Head. This building dated from the 1830s and was described as a ‘brewery and tap yard’.


It is recorded that, during its heyday, strolling entertainers would chain up their dancing bears in the yard of the King’s Head. Like so many premises, the licence was not renewed in 1907 and the building was put into private use until its final demise in 1970. This area of the town at one time boasted three public houses, and today only The Lamb remains.


If we travelled from Chichester Road along Victoria Drive to Aldwick, we could at one time have stopped at the Victoria Hotel, which was situated on the junction with Aldwick Road.


The earliest records of this hotel date from 1870. The local architect, Arthur Smith, constructed the hotel when many other developments were taking place in the vicinity. It was finally closed in 1990 and demolished to make way for the current block of flats.


Another site we should look at was once called the Queen Victoria and situated in South Bersted. On one of the walls there used to be a tablet dated 1792 with the initials B.N.S.


By 1842, it was known as a beer and lodging house and owned by one of the brewers from Chichester, and for a time it was named The White Horse. The name was changed around 1860s but eventually, due to legislation and other local changes, it ceased to be a public house and became a private resident in 1978.


Looking further afield, we should consider The Southdowns in Felpham. At one time on this corner site of the main road, the weary traveller could have visited the Brewers Arms, which was said to have dated from the 18th century.


However, these premises were closed and demolished to make way for a new construction next door, that of the Southdowns in 1923. It was considered that a more modern public house was needed at this ‘end of the village’.


Looking around the town, we find that there would appear to have been a period when a number of licensed premises opened, in particular there seemed to be quite a surge of new premises in the 1830s. Then, for whatever reasons, the use of many declined prior to the First World War, when their licences were not renewed.


This is just a snapshot of some of our past drinking houses. It is interesting to surmise how many of today’s public houses will have a tale or history to be recounted by future local historians?

Posted in Lifestyle.