Onslow Court Privacy Screens

During the last 8 years Onslow court has undergone a huge renovation project, which has included installing a new boiler for the communal heating, having the front of Onslow painted twice, and the back and side flanks of the building redecorated. The flat roof has been renewed and the flue from the boiler room lined. The lift on the east side has been replaced. Onslow Court is looking and functioning so much better, and is at last returning to its former glory.


Union Place Worthing

The ‘vision’ for a better future continues in Worthing – Union Place

There are notices around the town in Worthing advertising the vision for Worthing, you might have noticed them and in particular the boards about Union Place. Worthing Borough Council (WBC) obtained the land last year and this latest acquisition is part of the bigger regeneration plan for Worthing which has been going on for some time now. The Union Place project will bring with it 198 new homes, new commercial spaces, a cinema and an extension to the Connaught Theatre, in fact in this application the theatre is called the ‘site anchor‘. The proposal describes all the opportunities and the constraints associated with such a huge development and is worth a read (link below).

In a statement Adur and Worthing Borough Council say this:

‘Worthing will be recognised as a highly desirable place to live, work and visit, continuing to attract high calibre businesses and significant inward investment that will help the town’s economy to grow and improve its regional competitiveness. It will be a vibrant place where people can enjoy a high-quality environment that combines the best of coast and countryside, a diverse cultural and leisure offer, modern infrastructure and economic opportunities.  [Worthing prospectus 2016]

It is interesting to look at the map of 1932 on page 3; ‘The Heritage Strategy’, we can see the Connaught Theatre as a cinema. It was in 1935 that the cinema had a face lift and became the Connaught Theatre. The architect of the face lift, creating a new façade, was the same architect who designed Onslow Court, A T Goldsmith.

The significance of why Onslow Court features in this huge planning document starts to make sense. Some of those aforementioned constraints are probably there because of our Onslow Court, the Connaught it is a very important listed building in Worthing and it sits slap bang in the middle of the Union Place site making this project slightly more architecturally sensitive than it might otherwise have been and don’t forget, it is called the ‘site anchor‘ in this application.

Onslow Court is included as a visual reference in the outline planning application (page 6), although their document doesn’t reference the architect, or why our building is slotted into this glossy tender.  Onslow Court is prominent in the application and it is placed alongside other ‘designed’ buildings.

It is great that Onslow Court is recognised as a building of importance. We come under the heading, ‘Proposed Character’ and we are the only local building other than the Connaught Theatre in the application.

Read the full application and view all 8 exhibition boards here and the consultation information here.



Art Deco Traveller Guide

I think it is fair to say that we are all quite passionate about the Art Deco era; the period when Onslow Court was built.

Now it looks like someone else is too and not just the era, but also our building.

Onslow Court is catalogued in the latest Art Deco Traveller Guide, written, researched by the Art Historian, journalist, writer and author Genista Davidson.  Genista is also the Chairman of the Art Deco Society U.K.

This is an invaluable location guide for any art deco traveller in the United Kingdom and for all lovers of 1920s and 30s nostalgia and all that that entails: the opulence and decadence of the legendary Jazz Age era. In this edition you will find us alongside De La Warr Pavilion, the Assembly Hall in Worthing, Saltdean Lido and Pells Pool in Lewis. Plus Stoke Abbot Court Worthing, Embassy Court, Shoreham Airport and Marine Court in St Leonards-on-Sea. Readers might be interested to read Genista’s blog post here on Shoreham Airport and other local Art Deco hot spots!

Onslow Court was always an important piece of architecture on the south coast, it lost its polish and allure in the 70s 80s and the 90s, but now thanks to the new climate of interest in this era and the intensive restoration program which has spanned the last 8 years, starting in 2012 with the replacement of the communal boiler, we are starting to see confirmation that Onslow Court is being noticed and recorded once more.

The ‘Art Deco Traveller Guide’ is available to buy in all good bookshops.


STOP PRESS>>>> There is another book coming out soon on Onslow Court written by the daughter of the developer/builder of our building. This new book will feature other Worthing buildings that her family built in the 30s and we wait in anticipation for publication day. We will tell you about it here first!

Ammunition Found in Flat 29! – 1949

Ammunition 1949

We all know from living at Onslow Court about our strange water distribution and stopcocks, but none was more strange that this story from the local paper in 1949.

Nine-year-old John Millkin, of 29 Onslow Court, Worthing slept for several months within a few feet of a quantity of live, 303 ammunition without knowing it.

This week it was discovered by accident and removed by the police – all 15 rounds of it.

It came to light because of the faulty bathroom tap. It was necessary to switch off another tap in the medicine cupboard in Johns bedroom and while Mrs. P.D. Millikin, Johns mother and a porter at the flats were examining the inside of the cupboard, they saw some of the ammunition wedged in a partition.

Five rounds were extracted and John and his sister (Jill) later found another ten. Onslow Court was occupied by the military during the war.

Paper cutting provided by Zoe Bailey Flat 12a.


Brooklands Lake and Parkland

Five Rivers Environmental Contracting has been chosen to revive much-loved Brooklands lake has promised to deliver an ambitious improvement project with work scheduled to start this autumn.

The company, which was awarded the contract by Worthing Borough Council, after a competitive tendering process, expects the work to take 12 weeks weather permitting.

Five Rivers will have to remove 15,000 cubic metres of silt, the equivalent of six Olympic-sized swimming pools, which has built up in the lake which will then be used to create new margins and a new island in the middle.

Trees will be planted on the island and a boardwalk will be created over new reedbeds in the margins. A special bank which it is hoped will attract nesting and feeding kingfishers and sandmartins is also to be created.

Worthing Borough Council’s Executive Member for the Environment, Cllr Diane Guest, said, “I’m really excited by these plans from Five Rivers. I am confident the company will restore the lake to its full glory and help improve the park for generations to come.

“I will be watching the work with a great deal of excitement.”

The council acted last year after concerns about the environmental impact of the build-up of silt in the eight-acre lake.

To avoid similar problems in future Five Rivers will be narrowing the Teville stream and in front of the Brooklands cafe. Silt traps will also be installed to help stop debris finding ts way to the bottom of the lake.

“We are really looking forward to working the council and the Friends of Brooklands lake to improve the area with this ambitious improvement project,” said Five Rivers project manager Jacob Dew.

“Our works will help to create new marginal zones and more defined diverse habitats that we hope have the potential to attract a variety of species to the area.”

Five Rivers has previously worked on bio engineered protection of the River Rother in East Sussex, improvements to the River Lambourn to help fish breeding and work to restore four stretched of the River Nar in Norfolk.

Local residents were key in calling for improvements to Brooklands lake and now with the help of the borough council a Friends of Brooklands Park group has been set up which will have a major say in the future direction of the popular attraction.

Worthing’s parks department is invited anyone interested in joining the group to attend a special meeting at the Richmond Rooms, Stoke Abbott Road on August 8 at 6.30pm.

Cllr Guest will be attending as will members of the council’s park ranger team.

The Restoration Man – Channel 4 TV

This may interest residents who have new Heritage Windows……

From the blog pages of Heritage Windows:- “In a great way to kick off 2017, not only do we have George Clarke back on our screens with the return of his hit TV show, Restoration Man on Channel 4 – but in the very first episode Heritage Windows featured heavily.

“The building featured wonderful curved top windows, but the steel frames installed in the 1930’s were badly damaged and could only house single pane glazing which by today’s standards just isn’t secure or warm enough for a modern home. The couple contacted Heritage searching for a like for like replacement which would keep in tone with the building’s industrial look whilst providing security and warmth that the family required.”

Read the whole article here

Onslow Court – Balcony Privacy Screens

In 2013 during the major restoration to the front of Onslow Court the privacy screens were removed from the balconies and they never returned! The cost to manufacture new screens was prohibitively high and they continued to be pushed to the bottom of the list. Residents were happy to muddle along sharing balconies with neighbours. However, they are one of many important architectural points of Onslow Court and they are coming back.

Below is an archive photograph of the building from around 1995. The screens at that time were not glazed and very similar to the old Beach Hotel.

onlsow screens

Below is what was salvaged of the removed screens, there was very little left to save, but it is clear that they were later glazed with an opaque perspex screen.  Credit to Paul and Jan Beeson for storing and photographing the old screen for us all.


Art Deco in Worthing

In late 2002 Worthing Borough Council Executive Member for Planning and Economic Development, Councillor Chris Sargent, appointed Saville Jones Architects to undertake a study of Worthing. The purpose was to record buildings of interest within the Borough, excluding those that were statutorily ‘Listed’ so that people interested in the town might be encouraged to appreciate some of the buildings of note and interest.

The objective was not to create a list of buildings to be preserved, but a catalogue of structures for public record.

The research shows what a rich architectural heritage Worthing has. Particularly taht of the Art Deco period – A period of art and architecture that is undergoing a resurgence of interest.

The built environment has to reflect changing lifestyles and patterns of living and not everything can be preserved. However, many buildings, including some that have been catalogued, have been spoilt by insensitive alterations and extensions. especially in the use of uPVC porches and windows. Future development in the town should now reflect a quality and integrity of design of their period, just as the buildings within this study were of theirs.

Onslow Court

This building is a good example of International style architecture, comprising a four-storey apartment block that sweeps around this prominent corner site.
The building is flat-roofed with an architectural composition of alternating solid render panels with steel framed glazing. Decorative relief features within the render have been subtly detailed within the elevation. The large corner windows project on the ground, first and second floors to take advantage of the sea views. The original lettering has been retained and the facades have been carefully maintained.

The Letter Behind the Radiator

In 2006 an old letter was found unopened, wedged behind a radiator in Onslow Court. Imagine the surprise and excitement of George Rudd who used to live in flat 18 when he unearthed it. Unopened it presented so many interesting ideas, who had sent it and what did it contain?

The letter is dated February 1942; it had fallen from sight and lay undiscovered and unopened for more than 63 years. It appears to have been sent by a Mrs Comfort from Bromley, she sent it to Gunner R. J. Comfort of 3rd Field Regiment, Canadian Army in Worthing. The letter implies that Mrs Comfort is his wife; is the referred to boyfriend a joke or a euphemism or code even?

We know that there were many Canadian soldiers billeted in Worthing during WW2, but no one is sure they ended up in Onslow Court. Research at Worthing Library was made to try and find out more. Unfortunately records were scant and for a very good reason, groups of soldiers in buildings were kept secret during the war, records were either heavily censored or not made at all for fear of them (and the soldiers) getting into enemy hands.

Below is a transcript of the letter. If only the Royal Mail was as efficient now as it was then!

21 Bourne Road, Bromley, Kent. 4th February 1942

“My Own Dearest Husband,
I got your letter first post this morning. I am sorry to hear you’ve broken your nose again darling. I hope it doesn’t hurt too much. Tony has got to go for his Medical tomorrow, for this Army Training school. Joan is writing to you.

“I hope you can get up at the weekend, even if it’s only for one night dear. Have you got all that washing done yet? My boyfriend came to see me for a little while this afternoon. Of course you are forgiven for accusing me of putting port in your beer. It would be a waste of good port, besides spoiling your beer.

“I am sorry if the room was dusty. I only swept and dusted it Saturday morning, by the time you finish dusting it, you have to start all over again.

“It is not quite as cold here today. What is it like down there. Your letters don’t take very long to get here. The one I had this morning left Worthing at 8 o’clock last night, and I got it at 7.30 this morning. You left your Palmolive After Shave Talc here and your darts.

“Mrs Staples said Brian keeps telling her that Uncle Frank’s a soldier. John’s in disgrace again after being good all this long time. Mrs Staples has to stay away from work for a week as she is run down. I dreamt you were chasing me with a knife last night.

“I’m sorry this is such a short letter darling, but there’s nothing else to tell you.

All my love and kisses,
Yours forever dearest – Pegtips”

Did Gunner R. J. Croft ever receive the letter?

The letter is now in the care of Worthing Museum. Transcription, scans and research by Jan Beeson Flat 9

WW2 People’s War extract from the BBC Series

“I was born in the East End of London, Poplar, near Bow; so I am a Cockney. I came to Worthing when I was 6 and my father worked at Onslow Court at the bottom of Brougham Road. The block of flats belonged to Knight & Co, which when I was asked by one of the girls at school did they belong to my father, I said yes as my maiden name was Knight. They were the luxury flats of Worthing which were Winchelsea Court, Onslow Court, Downview Court, Hastings Court and Romney Court.

“We used to have Bertran Mills circus in the next field where I lived which belonged to Pearson’s Retreat and having the abattoir also in Brougham Road we would see the cows and sheep that came from the station to be slaughtered as they walked through the streets. This was like wonderland. It was 1936.

“Then of course things changed. We were “invaded” by the French Canadians and Worthing was a big garrison ready to go to Dunkirk for the rescue of the men from France.

“I was then evacuated from Worthing, having attended Lyndhurst Road school with Miss Wilson as the headmistress, and was sent to Leicester where I was put on a smallholding and had to work very hard as the lady’s two sons were called up for the Navy. I was with another girl, Brenda King, who when one day I was told to scrub the pantry said “I will do it for you Kit” and I said “No I’m Cinderella you’re the ugly sister”.

I came back after two and a half years and within the first week a German aeroplane tried to shoot us as it tried to bomb the gasworks. I could see the pilot and his goggles as we were running across the playground to get to the shelters. Also soon afterwards a German plane came down in Lyndhurst Road killing nine French Canadian soldiers.

“At 14 I was put in a bakery at Broadwater to keep away from the soldiers when the soldiers would come to us on their route marches for their cup of tea and cake. I was too young to appreciate them but the other girls in the shop had a good time as they would take them back to their camp for dances but make sure they got home safely at night time.

“My grandfather was a master baker and my three uncles; one was Lumley’s (my mother’s sister married), my mother’s twin brother was Joe Harrington who lost his shop in London and came to Worthing and was porter of Downview Court and my Aunt Kate’s husband was a porter in Hastings Court. My mother’s eldest brother had five shops in Hove and Brighton, he was Jack Harrington.”

(Extract from the BBC series – ‘WW2 People’s War’ Copyright Catherine Maylin (nee Collins, nee Knight)/ WW2 People’s War’)