Worthing Pier


About the Pier (and opening times)

Worthing Pier is owned by Worthing Borough Council. The Pavilion Theatre and Pavilion Atrium Bar (previously called the Denton Lounge) are situated at the northern (landward) end of the pier. There is an amusement arcade in the middle of the pier and to the southern end (sea end) is the South Pavilion. For more details see:

Opening times:

  • 6am to 10pm (depending on the weather)

Please note:

  • in the event of a Force 9 severe gale the pier will close
  • if tidal or weather conditions deteriorate the landing stage will close temporarily
  • for accurate daily updates please contact the Coastal Office

Fishing on the pier:

Fishing on the pier is free of charge. There are 3 different types of zone, marked out using green, orange and red discs placed on the upper decking: 

  • Green zones: fishing all year round
  • Orange zones: fishing is only permitted between 1st October and 1st May
  • Red zones: no fishing permitted 

Please note:

  • fishing on the landing stage is unrestricted and you can fish where you like - this includes overhead casting
  • overhead casting is not permitted on the pier decking for safety reasons
  • please follow the best practice and comply with the pier byelaws
  • keep conservation in mind and promote catch and release
  • please take all rubbish way with you

PR19-065 - Worthing Pier at low tide. Winner of Pier of the Year 2019

PR19-065 - Worthing Pier voted the best in the UK 2019

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History of the Pier

Holidaymakers and Worthing residents alike have enjoyed visiting Worthing Pier for generations. Local historian Jane Dore shares the fascinating history of this Grade II listed art deco pier, which was named UK Pier of the Year in 2019.

This special section which gives episodes of its fascinating history as written by local historian Jane Dore.

Worthing Pier (pic 3) - Copyright Worthing Museum

Image Copyright © Worthing Museum and Art Gallery


A New Pier for Worthing

Designed by Sir Robert Rawlinson, Worthing Pier was opened to the public on 12th April 1862.

Described as an “elegant pier of iron, 960 feet long, for promenaders only”, it was constructed of wooden decking laid onto the iron framework and was about five metres wide with seating down both sides. It was built at a cost of £6,500, with the money largely raised by local residents through the purchase of £1 shares. 

In 1884 two kiosks were added at the landward end of the pier to house a small souvenir shop, described as a “fancy repository”, and a toll house, to collect the small sums of money people had to pay to enter the pier. The first pier master was named Henry Hayden.

In 1887 work began to completely reconstruct and enlarge parts of the pier to commemorate the Jubilee of Queen Victoria. The designs were by James Mansergh and were carried out by Alfred Crouch, who had previously built the two kiosks. The reconstruction work included adding the new Pavilion at the southern end of the pier and a landing stage. The work was done at a cost of £12,000.

Sketches and photos of Worthing Pier
(images copyright West Sussex CC Library Service - West Sussex Past)

1a New Pier for Worthing - sketch (image copyright West Sussex Past Pictures)

1b New Pier for Worthing - sketch (image copyright West Sussex Past Pictures)

1c New Pier for Worthing - photo (image copyright West Sussex Past Pictures)

1d New Pier for Worthing - photo (image copyright West Sussex Past Pictures)

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The storm of 1913

During the Easter weekend in March 1913 a storm battered the pier, with winds of 80mph and torrential rain. Weather reports of the day recorded “barometers oscillating violently” and described “a red sun in an angry purple sky.” Soon after midnight the pier’s electricity supply was lost, and within minutes and amid shouts of “The pier's going!” from the shore the entire centre part of the structure disappeared under the sea.

The south pavilion with its landing stage area remained structurally sound and virtually untouched by this disaster but now stood totally marooned from the shore, leading it to be nicknamed 'Easter Island' by locals. Rebuilding work began in July 1913 and the new pier was opened to the public on 29th May 1914 by the Lord Mayor of London.

Photos of Worthing Pier after the storm
(images copyright West Sussex CC Library Service - West Sussex Past)

2a Damage to Worthing Pier after the storm - photo (image copyright West Sussex Past Pictures)

2b Damage to Worthing Pier after the storm - photo (image copyright West Sussex Past Pictures)

2c Damage to Worthing Pier after the storm - photo (image copyright West Sussex Past Pictures)

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The Pavilion

In 1921 the pier was purchased by the Borough of Worthing and within a few years a domed pavilion costing around £40,000 was designed and built at the southern shore end. The building replaced the two kiosks which had previously stood at the pier's entrance. It was designed by architects Adshead and Ramsay and various local contractors, including Sandell's the builders, were employed in its construction. The Pavilion was officially opened on 25th June 1926, with a grand ball hosted by the Mayor and Mayoress of Worthing, Walter and Annie Gardiner.

The food served at the ball was described in glowing terms in the local newspaper the following week. It is also interesting to note that the orchestra, which included many local musicians from Worthing as well as nearby locations, was directed by a lady; one Madame Kettle. One of the musical highlights of the grand ball was the premier of a piece of music written especially for the occasion by composer E. Joseph Shadwick called 'The Worthing Waltz'.

In 1958 a major refurbishment was carried out at the Pavilion which cost £24,000. Other alterations and changes have happened over the years but the structure remains very much in its original format.

Photos of the Pavilion being built
(images copyright West Sussex CC Library Service - West Sussex Past)

3a New Pavilion on Worthing Pier - photo (image copyright West Sussex Past Pictures)

3b New Pavilion on Worthing Pier - photo (image copyright West Sussex Past Pictures)

3c New Pavilion (interior) on Worthing Pier - photo (image copyright West Sussex Past Pictures)

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The Pier Fire of 1933

On the 10th September 1933 tragedy struck Worthing Pier again as a fire broke out in the Southern Pavilion. The Daily Sketch report of the fire, which was published the following day, suggested it was caused by the dropping of a cigarette onto the Southern Pavilion’s wooden floor.

Whatever the cause, it did not take long for the fire to take a firm hold and within 30 minutes the Southern Pavilion was completely destroyed. The blaze itself was so fierce that it could be seen at Beachy Head. Crowds of holiday makers had rushed to the scene and created a human chain passing furniture from the point of the fire down the walkway of the pier to safety. One gentleman even brought a motorised vehicle onto the walkway to help speed up the removal of everything they could manage to save. 

It did not take the town long to begin to replace the burnt out building. A new pavilion described as 'the suntrap of the South Coast' was erected and opened in July 1935 at a cost of £18,000. Two years later a matching Modernist style amusement arcade was added.

Photos of the fire on Worthing Pier in 1933
(images copyright West Sussex CC Library Service - West Sussex Past)

4a The 1933 fire on Worthing Pier - photo (image copyright West Sussex Past Pictures)

4b The 1933 fire on Worthing Pier - photo (image copyright West Sussex Past Pictures)

4c The 1933 fire on Worthing Pier - photo (image copyright West Sussex Past Pictures)

4d The 1933 fire on Worthing Pier - photo (image copyright West Sussex Past Pictures)

4e The 1933 fire on Worthing Pier - photo (image copyright West Sussex Past Pictures)

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Worthing Pier during the Second World War

During the early months of 1940 it was feared the Germans would invade along the south coast of England, and so moves were made to add defensive measures to the coast line. In Worthing barbed wire was laid along the beach and huge concrete blocks (known as tank-traps), gun emplacements and pillboxes were placed along the seafront. On 24th May 1940 the military authorities requisitioned the Pier, closing it to the public. To further defend the beach area and make landing more difficult they proceeded to blow a 120-foot-long hole in the decked walkway of the pier from just north of the Southern Pavilion.

While invasion did not occur, troops were stationed in the town and it was felt that provision needed to be improved for them in terms of rest and recreation. The Pavilion became one of these recreation centres with a canteen, library, dart boards, table tennis and billiard tables provided. Weekly entertainment for the troops was staged, including film showings and various concert parties. The Pier did not open to the public again until June 1946.

Photos of Worthing Pier during the Second World War
(images copyright West Sussex CC Library Service - West Sussex Past)

5a Worthing Pier during the Second World War - photo (image copyright West Sussex Past Pictures)

5b Worthing Pier during the Second World War - photo (image copyright West Sussex Past Pictures)

5c Worthing Pier during the Second World War - photo (image copyright West Sussex Past Pictures)

5d Worthing Pier during the Second World War - photo (image copyright West Sussex Past Pictures)

5e Worthing Pier during the Second World War - photo (image copyright West Sussex Past Pictures)

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The Denton Lounge

Now known as the Pavilion Atrium Bar, the Denton Lounge was officially opened by the Mayor of Worthing, H. W. Bradley on 31st July 1959. It was named after Alderman J. G. Denton who had been the town mayor from 1908 to 1910, and whose bequest to the town financed the building. His bequest also enabled the building of the Assembly Hall in 1935.

The design of the building was by J. Brandon-Jones, with some of the exterior decoration designs by Laurence Bradshaw. It was built by a Brighton-based builder, Messrs Rice & Sons Ltd, who managed to finish the building a week ahead of the agreed time scale - much applauded at the time.

Photos of The Denton lounge on Worthing Pier
(images copyright West Sussex CC Library Service - West Sussex Past)

6a Denton Lounge on Worthing Pier - photo (image copyright West Sussex Past Pictures)

6b Denton Lounge on Worthing Pier - photo (image copyright West Sussex Past Pictures)

6c Denton Lounge on Worthing Pier - photo (image copyright West Sussex Past Pictures)

6d Denton Lounge on Worthing Pier - photo (image copyright West Sussex Past Pictures)

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Nightclubs on the Pier

The Southern Pavilion has seen many different types of use over the years since it was built. Having stood empty for a period during the late 1970s it was renovated and opened as a seasonal café named Simpson's Bar in June 1985. They were licensed to be open between March and November each year. 

By June 1990 the building was again vacant and new tenants were being sought. The building was re-opened as a nightclub called Rutherford's a short time later. There were some problems with the club and various reports in local newspapers at the time describe drunken behaviour and police intervention.

However, Rutherford's continued until around 2003 when it was renamed Lush. This nightclub also ran for a few years, but by April 2006 the building was again standing empty.

In 2007 the whole building was refitted by new tenants and re-opened as yet another nightclub - 'The Pier'. This venture also had its problems and the licences were suspended at least twice, the second time for a period of 3 months. Eventually the business closed its doors.

Advert for Rutherfords Nightclub on Worthing Pier

7 Advert for Rutherfords Nightclub on Worthing Pier

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Postcards from the Pier

An incredible collection of vintage postcards, donated to The Worthing Society by long-time Worthing resident Kathie Way, helps illustrate the town's social history and in particular the evolution of Worthing Pier as a visitor attraction.

Susan Belton, The Worthing Society Chairman, helps tell the story behind this personal collection which was collected over many years. 

Before most people owned cameras, and certainly well before the availability of today's social media, Miss Way recorded the history of Worthing Pier through the early 20th century by collecting this series of seaside postcards over many years.

⁣From the development of photography in the mid 19th century postcards became a very important and visual way of recording our social history. The postcards featured here highlight the different fashions worn by the Victorian and Edwardian visitors, through the attractive Art Deco period to the present day. Various forms of transport are also featured.⁣

These views clearly show the pier has⁣ always been the focal point and indeed the “jewel in the crown” of Worthing's seafront.⁣

Can you guess the era of each of the postcards?

Postcard images are copyright Miss Kathie Way and The Worthing Society.

Worthing Pier - hand-coloured high level view down the length of the pier

Worthing Pier - the Pier and seafront, looking west

Worthing Pier - Horse drawn lifeboat heading off to a wreck

Worthing Pier - early had drawn view of the landward end of the pier before the Pavilion was built

Worthing Pier - The entrance kiosks to the Pier

Worthing Pier - One of the entrance kiosks to the Pier

Worthing Pier - people promenading on the pier in their fine clothes

Worthing Pier - people on the promenade near the bandstand with the pier in the distance

Worthing Pier - view towards the beach along the length of the Pier showing people promenading on the Pier

Worthing Pier - view of the esplanade and Pier from Steyne Gardens

Worthing Pier - view towards the beach along the length of the Pier

Worthing Pier - view of the Pavilion and down the length of the Pier

Worthing Pier - variety of iconic views of the Pier

Worthing Pier - Pavilion and Pier

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Video: Travel through time with Worthing Pier

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For more history about the pier you may also be interested in:

There is a book available to buy:

  • 'Worthing Pier - a history' by Dr. Sally White, available from Worthing Museum

'Worthing Pier: Past, Present and Future' is an exciting community project by the Worthing Youth Council:

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Page last updated: 20 September 2021