worthing leisure centre

From the beginning in 1972

In 1968 Worthing Borough Council approved the plans by Mr Frank Morris, the Borough’s Architect to build a sports centre at West Park at a cost of over £300k.  On the 15th July 1972, the centre was opened by the then Mayor, Councillor A E Dunning and attracted 5,000 people to come and see what this long awaited centre was all about……fast forward 50 years, South Downs Leisure is absolutely delighted to be running this centre.

We hope you enjoy reading news articles from newspapers, hearing about what happened on the day of the opening on the 15th July 1972, interviews with Margaret, Sandra and Derek and hearing how our Chief Executive remembers his first days back in 2002.

Special thanks to everyone who has kindly helped us in the making of this page including Worthing Herald and  The Argus.

Worthing Leisure Centre history
Worthing Leisure Centre history
Worthing Leisure Centre history
Worthing Leisure Centre History
Worthing Leisure Centre history
Open day at Worthing Leisure Centre in 1972
The Worthing & District Sports Advisory Council 1971

The Worthing & District Sports Advisory Council

The aim of Worthing and District Sports Advisory Council was to provide a sounding board for local sports opinion, also a forum for representativies of the the local authority and members of sports bodies to plan for sports and recreation in the community.

Read The Worthing & District Sports Advisory Council booklet 1971/2 (pdf)

A message from the Mayor of Worthing, Alderman S. M. Knight, J.P (1971) 

“Good Luck to everyone who will enjoy the facilities which are being provided”

Thanks to Derek Webb for usage of this book.

1952 Basketball Team

Worthing Spartans Basketball (1972)

Left to right: back row, A N Other, Alan (Aussie) Stringer, Dick Hazelden, Colin Smith, the late Trevor Passmore of Church Farm RIP, A N Other. Front row: Dennis Cochran, Brian George, Bob Cantle, Alan Luke, Dave Andrews.

We were coached by the Manager of the centre, Dave Fisher.
Image kindly supplied by Dennis Cochran.

Worthing Bears Basketball Team (1984/85)

Image kindly supplied by Dennis Cochran.

From Mr Alf Regis, the start of the Worthing Marathon in 1984

Image kindly supplied by Dennis Cochran.

Worthing Bears 1985

Worthing Bears legends the late Billy Hungrecker and Dale Shackleford, Worthing Sports Centre, 1985.

Image kindly supplied by Dennis Cochran.


A Grand Manor House dating back to the 18th Century
Field Place Manor House and Barns is a fine example of an 18th Century English Country House and has a unique and tranquil atmosphere, which has been created by generations of well known Worthing families.

Evidence of history and development can be seen in the present Manor House, which contains beautiful Jacobean oak paneling and carved fireplaces. The splendid carvings in the Oak Room, which is now used for meetings and corporate hire, depict the Cooke family, who lived in the house for over 300 years


After the Cooke family the Westbrooke-Richardsons owned the house before passing it on to the Henty family during the mid to late 1700’s. The Hentys were a very successful farming family who used some of their wealth to upgrade the house into a fine Georgian residence; they are responsible for the present house frontage

Field Place Manor House & Barns
Field Place Manor House & Barns


During the agricultural depression the Hentys’ revenue declined and Thomas Henty, the younger son of Sarah and Thomas, began to write from Field Place to his business contacts in Australia, to enquire about land and prospects there for his family. Eventually, after much planning, Thomas set sail in 1828 with his wife Frances Elizabeth, their children, George, James, Charles, Edward, Jane, William, John, Stephen and Francis. They took with them a flock of Merino sheep, agricultural equipment and staff.

On arrival in Australia the family found life very hard but eventually found success in banking, farming, politics and business. The youngest son of the family, Francis later built a house in 1876 called Field Place in Victoria which still stands today

Early 1900’s

Towards the end of the 19th century, the house was occupied by Col E W Margerson who also owned Findon Place. In 1909 Alfred Bates purchased Field Place Manor House and spent £250,000 on renovations including the installation of an underground electrical supply. When Bates died in 1945 the Manor House was changed to the Manor Country Club. During the second World War the Manor House and surrounding area was used by the RAF to test early radar

Field Place Manor House & Barns
Field Place Manor House & Barns

Late 1900’s

There has been much talk that there is still is a network of tunnels under Field Place. The Radar Reunion people would return each year after the war and chat about tunnels as long as six miles. Before D Day, the underground tunnels stored 500 Harley Davidsons before they were sent over to France. One report shows that a Mr John Hammersley had played in the tunnels as a boy in the 1950’s.

The tunnels entrance was unfortunately blocked, even to this day we are not sure the whereabouts of the main entrance. Records are protected by the 73 year secrecy rule.

The house then became Flamingo Country Club before the house was bought by Worthing Borough Council in 1956 for £17,500.

Improvements were made; the original flint barn dated 1773 was refurbished and was reopened in 1988 as an ideal venue for wedding receptions, seminars, plays and dances. The Manor House was then refurbished in 1989 and this revealed much of the original paneling and stone work.