The Way We Were
Six-page summer special
Sunny Worthing, the ‘all year round seaside resort’ claimed the British Railways posters, and a day out on Marine Parade in 1954 seems a very beguiling proposition. Who could possibly ask for more than a walk along the pier followed by Doctor in the House at The Rivoli cinema or maybe the Punch & Judy Show just east of the Pavilion? To make summer in West Sussex even more attractive, food rationing ended on 4 July with coupons no longer required for meat or bacon – much to the happiness of rosycheeked seaside landladies.
Some of the holidaymakers in this shot would have taken the electric train from Victoria, others arrived in a Southdown Leyland Tiger Cub, but many would have driven to West Sussex. The volume of private motor traffic was very much on the rise, even if petrol cost as much as 4/6d per gallon. The sizeable number of pre-war cars on Marine Parade is a reminder that the MoT test lay six years in the future. Nearest to the camera in the traffic queue approaching the zebra crossing is a Ford Model Y and its sub-60mph top speed would still have been more than enough to cope with A27 traffic.
The Sunbeam-Talbot 2-Litre is of a slightly more recent vintage and its elegant coachwork seems highly appropriate for Worthing’s slightly raffish air. By contrast, the Morris Oxford MO looked as solid and respectable as Jack Hawkins while such cars as the L-Type Vauxhall Velox with the silver bonnet flutes and the post-1949 separate sidelights, the upright Ford E494A Anglia and the utilitarian but stylish Hillman Estate Car add to the impression of bustling affluence. And for me, the one detail that truly dates this photograph is a seemingly minor one – the absence of double yellow lines.