Edward VII was a popular King in Worthing, which he visited several times towards the end of his reign.

He drove over from Brighton and Hove, where he often stayed with members of the wealthy Sassoon family.

The King sat in the front of the car, which was always driven by a policeman, and the royal motor engineer Charles Stamper was invariably there in case the car broke down, a frequent hazard in the early days of motoring.

One day in December 1908, the King noticed that Worthing Pier was almost empty and thought it a good time to pay it a visit.

Only a couple of people saw the King and his party arrive, paying their tolls in the usual way. But word spread rapidly that the monarch was in town.

When Arthur Sassoon left the King at the far end of the pier to ask the gateman to buy him a copy of the Telegraph and the Times, he had to thread his way through a large crowd.

By this time a senior police officer had arrived and took up Sassoon’s suggestion that no more people should be allowed on to the pier.

The gateman didn’t buy the papers or control the crowd, perhaps because he was determined to see the King, so Sassoon went to get them himself.

When he returned, the crowd was so vast he had to fight his way through it to collect the King and asked people to let him return to the car.

So much for a peaceful stroll on the pier but the car stopped a few miles from Worthing on the way back and the King had a welcome walk.

Many people in the town thought that Edward VII stayed several times at Beach House near the seafront as the guest of Sir Edmund Loder.

But Antony Edmonds, in a new book on Worthing, says there is no reference to this in a biography of Loder or even a mention of their friendship.

Stamper, who also wrote a book, suggests merely that the gardens were placed at the King’s disposal on his day trips from Brighton when Loder was away.

The King’s final visit to Worthing was in January 1910 when he drove over from Brighton with his mistress Alice Keppel.

She was often with him on these motoring excursions but Stamper, in a deferential age, was too discreet to mention her in his memoirs.

The King wrote in his diary he had enjoyed a morning walk on the beach near Shoreham and an afternoon stroll along the prom at Worthing.

Less than four months later, the King died and in May thou-sands of people again crammed the streets of Worthing.

This time it was not to see the King but to watch a dignified memorial procession through the town.

  • Worthing – The Postcard Collection is published by Amberley, priced £14.99.