The pavilion on one of Sussex’s best-loved piers is celebrating its one-year anniversary since being given a major overhaul.

In 2013 Worthing Borough Council approved plans to renovate the 1930s art deco Southern Pavilion on the town’s pier.

A year ago today, its beautiful sunburst doors opened to the public.

Businessman Phil Duckett was the council’s preferred bidder to transform the Grade II building into a bustling cafe and tea rooms with facilities for weddings, events and private parties. Twelve months on, he admits things could not have gone any better.

He told The Argus: “We’ve learnt a lot since opening the doors for the first time at 10am that morning.

“There were 100 people waiting outside and now we’re at our one-year anniversary, we’ve had 90,000 come through the doors for weddings, award ceremonies and all sorts.

“Our vision for the pavilion was to create a venue that would provide stunning 360 degree sea and town views.

“Directing and guiding the tradesman on this project has been exciting and there has not been one moment where we thought it wouldn’t succeed. It’s been a joy to walk down the pier each day with the thought that we are putting smiles on people’s faces.

“The fabric of the building was always there, we just had to give it a new set of clothes.”

Mr Duckett and his business partner Richard Bradley prioritised using local tradesmen and materials where possible, including builders, balustrades and locally-grown Sussex oak wood flooring.

As well as a buzzing cafe boasting cakes and warm drinks, the pavilion has contributed to a revived music scene in Worthing through its hosting of lauded blues artists from the UK and abroad.

Mr Duckett added: “Three years ago it was a boarded up building that was crying out to have streaming light reflecting off English oak floors, or the sun glistering through the crystal chandeliers.

“We feel honoured to have been part of this project and I feel it is testament that anything is possible if you believe in what you do is right - especially if you want to make a difference.

“We have 30 weddings booked for this year and some for 2016 and beyond too, so here’s to the future.”


1860 – Worthing Pier Company formed to build Worthing’s first pier. Sir Robert Rawlinson was commissioned to design it.

1862 –Worthing Pier opened to the public. The structure cost £6,500.

1913 – Easter Monday, the decking collapses during a violent storm, isolating the Southern Pavilion, which become known as “Worthing’s Easter Islands”. The pier closed to the public.

1925 – Building began on a new shoreward end pavilion, designed by Adshead and Ramsey.

1926 – June, new shoreward end pavilion was officially opened
1933 –Fire destroyed the Southern Pavilion.

1935 – New Southern Pavilion opened, costing £18,000.

1937 – Amusement pavilion built and opened halfway along the pier.

1940 – Pier is closed to the public during the Second World War and a 120-metre section of the decking is destroyed to thwart potential enemy invasion.

1942 – The shoreward pavilion is used as a troop recreation centre.

1959 – The Denton Lounge built.

1979 -1982 – The shoreward pavilion was redeveloped as an entertainment centre.

2008 – The Birdman competition moved to Worthing Pier.

2012 –Nightclub lease ran out and the Southern Pavilion remains empty and unused for the 20 months.

2014 – Southern Pavilion reopens as a new all-purpose venue.


  • LAST month Worthing Pier was named the second most impressive pier in the country.The 984ft landmark, which opened in April 1862, was beaten to the top spot by Cromer Pier in Norfolk in the annual Pier of the Year competition run by the National Pier Society.Worthing Pier also beat their rival Birdman destination Bognor into 11th place.Eastbourne came third and Brighton’s Palace Pier languished into 19th place in the rankings.Hastings and Brighton’s West Pier were ineligible for the contest because they are closed.