Bognor Regis

The History of Bognor Regis

Bognor RegisBognor Regis was originally named just “Bognor”, being a fishing (and one time, smuggling) village until the 18th century, when it was converted into a resort by Sir Richard Hotham. Tourism gradually took off over the next hundred years, the area being chosen as an ideal location for King George V to convalesce in during 1929, the King and Queen actually staying at Craigwell House, Aldwick; as a result, the King was asked to bestow the “Regis” (“of the King”) suffix on “Bognor”. The petition was presented to Lord Stamfordham, the King’s Private Secretary, who in turn delivered to the King. King George V supposedly replied, “Oh, bugger Bognor.” Lord Stamfordham then went back to the petitioners and told them, “the King has been graciously pleased to grant your request.”

“Bugger Bognor!”

A slightly different version of the “Bugger Bognor” incident is that the King, upon being told, shortly before his death, that he would soon be well enough to revisit the town, uttered the words “Bugger Bognor!” Although there is little evidence that these words were actually spoken in this context, and although the sea air helped the King to regain his health, it is certain that the King had little regard (to put it mildly) for the town.

Bognor was a part of the ancient parish of South Bersted in the county of Sussex, attaining parish status separate from South Bersted in 1828. Until 1894 it formed part of the Hundred of Aldwick, an ancient division of Chichester Rape. From 1894 to 1974 it was part of Bognor Urban District (Bognor Regis Urban District from 1929), and since 1974 it has been a part of Arun District.

The town has several areas, and buildings, that still firmly link it with its past. Good examples, and prominent local landmarks, are the Royal Norfolk Hotel and Hotham Park.

Twin Towns

Bognor Regis is twinned with:

    France Saint-Maur-des-Fossés, France

Germany Weil am Rhein, Germany

Butlin’s Resort

Sir Billy Butlin opened one of his Butlin’s Holiday Camps in Bognor in 1960. The camp later became known as Southcoast World until 1998 and is now known as Butlin’s Bognor Regis Resort. In 1999 Butlin’s erected a large indoor leisure park, the buildings construction sharing aspects similar with the Millennium Dome in London. In 2005, a new £10m hotel, called “The Shoreline” was unveiled at the Bognor Regis resort. A second hotel “The Ocean” opened on the site in Summer 2009 and general landscaping and upgrading has also taken place. Postcards featuring the Butlins’ Reception Hall and Sun Lounge were reprinted in the book Boring Postcards (1999). More luxury hotels are planned for the site. In May 2009 Butlins have also announced that they will be looking into adding a third hotel to the Bognor Regis site.

Pier at low tide

The International Bognor Birdman was an annual competition for human-powered ‘flying’ machines held each summer. Contestants launch themselves from the end of the pier; a prize being awarded to the one who glides the furthest distance. Rarely taken completely seriously, the event provides competitors with an opportunity to construct improbable machines complete with outlandish dress. The spectacle drew a sizeable crowd in addition to the local media. Inaugurated in nearby Selsey in 1971, the Birdman transferred to Bognor in 1978 when it had outgrown its original location. Such celebrities as Richard Branson are famous for taking the leap of faith.

Theatre and cinema

The Alexandra Theatre is a 352 seat auditorium showing a variety of entertainment from comedy to drama to pantomime. It replaced the Esplanade Theatre in the late 1970s. It is well supported by local people and intends to stay where it is in spite of plans to demolish it.

The film The Punch and Judy Man, starring Tony Hancock, was made in Bognor Regis. Several scenes of the film Wish You Were Here, were also filmed in Bognor Regis.

External scenes from the comedy series “Hope It Rains” starring Tom Bell and Holly Aird were filmed on the esplanade at Bognor.

More recently, the BBC TV series Jekyll (TV series) had several scenes throughout the series set in Bognor.

Rail links

Bognor Regis railway station is situated on a branch line from Barnham, on the West Coastway Line. It has half-hourly services to London and to other south coast towns, some being direct.

Road links

A29. To Dorking to the north, where it joins the A24 to London. This road bisects the main east-west trunk road, the A27, at Fontwell and the A272 at Billingshurst.

A259. The coastal road running along the south coast from Havant in Hampshire to Folkstone in Kent.

Bus travel.

The number 700 bus runs frequently from Brighton to Portsmouth calling at Bognor Regis. The number 60 bus runs from Bognor through Pagham to Chichester and on to Midhurst or Summersdale.

information courtesy of Wikipedia