Bognor Regis

Bognor Regis

Bognor Regis, city (1991 pop. 50,323), West Sussex, S central England. It is a seaside resort. At nearby Felpham is the cottage where the poet William Blake lived from 1801 to 1804. The title Regis was granted to the town after George V convalesced there in 1929.

Bognor Regis is a seaside resort town and civil parish in the Arun District of West Sussex, England. The nearby villages of Felpham, briefly home to the poet William Blake, and Aldwick are now suburbs of Bognor Regis, along with those of North and South Bersted.

Origin of name

Bognor is one of the oldest recorded Saxon place names in Sussex. In a document of 680AD it is referred to as Bucgan ora meaning Bucge's (a female Saxon name) shore, or landing place.


Bognor 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 bestowed the Regis suffix on Bognor.

Local legend suggests the King's last words, upon being told that he would soon be well enough to revisit the town, were "Bugger Bognor!" although this is a misconception as the comments were para-phased out of context. 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 Anglican parish church is dedicated to St. Wilfrid while the local Roman Catholic church is dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows.


Bognor Regis has a large town centre, much of which has either been pedestrianized or made pedestrian-friendly. Since the end of World War Two the town has been subject to some piece-meal commercial redevelopment, notably in the early 1960s when a new shopping parade and road (called Queensway), a health centre and a high-rise block of flats were built on land just north-west of the High Street. In the three decades between 1950 and 1980 much residential development took place to the west and north of the town, since then mostly in-fill development has taken place, predominantly redeveloping land on brownfield sites that had formerly been used for commercial business.

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.

Bognor Regis town centre was damaged in 1994 by an IRA device left in a bicycle. 15 shops were damaged but no injuries occurred.

Bognor Regis lies within the constituency of Bognor Regis and Littlehampton, the MP for which is Nick Gibb (Conservative).

Bognor Regis is twinned with:

Bognor Regis Regeneration Plans

In 2003-2004 planning policy documents were drawn up which would, if fully enacted, lead to much redevelopment & regeneration, then in 2007 renewed interest was shown in developing a marina .

St. Modwen Town Centre Development

The first work may begin in 2009, depending on the outcome of consulations. There is doubt about the proposals actually going ahead, because of opposition in the town, and rising property prices on which St Modwen depends to cross subsidise the leisure facilities. The project has been allocated £100 million, but this may be insufficient, given that a like for like theatre alone would cost over 20 million pounds to build. A public referendum will be held in June 2008. The current proposals are for an Entertainment Centre which will house;

  • A Cinema with 4-8 screens
  • A Bowling alley
  • Possibly a hotel
  • Some retail stores and restaurants
  • 5 kiosks

There may also be a car park located underneath the centre, with 500 spaces, for both residents and visitors. A new Arts Centre has also been proposed for the complex, but this is still in much doubt due to the Compulsory Purchase Order which will have to be carried out on the existing Theatre and the determination of the local people and Arun Arts, who currently run it, and have some 40 years left on the lease, that it should stay.

Timetable At current a timetable has been devised by St. Modwen, with construction beginning in 2010, and completion in 2013.

  • January 2007 - Development Agreement signed
  • January 2008 - 1st public consultation
  • February 2008 - Review and amend scheme based on feedback from public consultation
  • Summer 2008 - 2nd public consultation
  • Summer 2008 - Review and amend scheme based on feedback from public consultation
  • Autumn 2008 - Planning application submission
  • 2009 - Planning permission granted, Site acquisition and road closure process
  • 2010 - Construction starts
  • 2013 - Schemes completed

The scheme is looking unlikely to go ahead in today's economic climate and indeed, many local people hope that it does not, preferring their town and their theatre to stay the way they are. The Marina has already been axed.


Butlin's Holiday Camp

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 2004 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 . 2008 see's butlins building another hotel called the spa hotel costing £20m. they also have a masterplan too. too see a plan of the masterplan go to arun district council website and click on regenration site.


Birdman of Bognor

The Birdman is an annual competition for human-powered 'flying' machines held each summer in Bognor Regis. 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 draws 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.

Sadly this year's Birdman Event 2008 was cancelled at the '11th hour' due to the council instructing some 79 feet of pier to be removed in March 2008. This meant that there were question marks over the possible safety of the contestants landing in shallower water. No one is sure whether it will ever return to Bognor Regis in what would have been its 30th year.

Music scene & Festivals

Each year Bognor Rox is held on Bognor Prom, where two stages are set up for artists to perform.

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.

Bognor Regis is the home of the Regis School of Music and possibly the largest classical guitar society in the UK, the West Sussex Guitar Club

The film The Punch and Judy Man, staring 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 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.


Bognor Regis has three Secondary Schools, Felpham Community College, St. Philip Howard and Bognor Regis Community College The area also has several primary schools, both in Bognor Regis and Felpham.

Local Sport

The Formula 1 driver David Purley, best known for his attempt to save the life of fellow racing driver Roger Williamson during the 1973 Dutch Grand Prix, was born in Bognor Regis, and where tragically he was killed after crashing his aerobatic biplane into the sea off Bognor Regis on July 2, 1985 .

See also


External links


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