by Lotte Pegler
A blue plaque has been installed to celebrate the life and work of Bognor Regis’ founder.
Visitors of Hotham Park will now be able to examine the latest of a series of blue plaques, this time to commemorate Sir Richard Hotham.
Local historian Sylvia Endacott and mayor, Cllr Phil Woodall joined a group of residents outside Hotham Park House to welcome the addition.
Sylvia said: “Bognor Regis’ Birthday really is the anniversary of Sir Richard Hotham arriving here, and laying the foundations that we enjoy today.
“Members of the public should also get excited about the blue plaques because they help to identify the history of a town, by recognising people, places, events that help to make a town what it is today.
“It helps to provide an identity to any area. Helps people remember the past whilst looking to the future.
“Some places have statues to famous people – like Eric Morecambe, Winston Churchill, but plaques are an easier way to remember these people.
“Previous to the nine new plaques recently erected, the town had not had plaques for a long time.
“My decision and request was for a total of 10 to bring this situation more up to date.
“Anyone can suggested a name of a person to have one. But there is a criteria. The person must have been dead for over 20 years.
“A request, and a reason, should then be sent to the town council for consideration.
“As a seaside resort, we have quite a short history. We also are unique in that we have a birthday.
“January 18 is the date when a record was created in the Parish Register to the ‘laying of a foundation stone’ of a public bathing place at Bersted by Sir Richard Hotham.
“This was in 1787. So we can date our modern development, unlike most towns and activities.”
Sylvia was joined by Cllr Woodall as they presented the plaque to the crowd.
He said: “This blue plaque forms part of the new Heritage Trail Walks, which we want to encourage residents and visitors alike to participate in, to learn the rich heritage and culture of Bognor Regis.
“As the founder of this town, this latest plaque for Sir Richard Hotham, is particularly important”
According to Sylvia, they are hoping to unveil their 10th plaque in April, for Mary Wheatland, known for her bathing machines on the beach and also her life saving exploits.
Among the other plaques in the recent series, are photographer Frank L’Alouette, leisure industry pioneer, Billy Butlin and much loved architect, John Hawes.