New year celebrations in Worthing were tinged with nostalgia when a pub served its last drink before demolition.

Regulars of the Litten Tree, in Worthing, some of whom have drunk at the premises for more than 40 years, broke down in tears on the eve of the pub's closure.

The pub is to be demolished to make way for flats, despite protests from conservationists.

The Litten Tree has been open for six years but the building itself has been run as a pub for more than 50 years and has been a seafront feature for decades.

On New Year's Eve a capacity crowd of 350 people crammed inside to welcome the new year in and bid farewell to an end of an era.

Manager Eamonn Woulfe said: "Everyone had a brilliant night. There was no trouble and all the regulars turned up which was nice."

The Spanish-style pub opened 7pm and by 10pm was heaving with people of all ages singing and dancing. They were entertained by local band The Fray.

At midnight, the crowds at the ticket-only party cheered 2002 in after a traditional countdown.

Sentiments ran deep as the reality of the pub's closure sank in.

Mr Woulfe said: "The regulars were very emotional and quite a few started crying at closing time. They came up to my partner Steph Howe and I and said what a shame it was the pub was to be demolished. They wished us all the best.

"I didn't cry but my partner Steph choked back a few tears."

He said what he would miss most about the pub, at the junction of Marine Parade and West Buildings, was the live music and the mixed crowd with customers ranging in age from 18 to 80.

The building was originally built in the Victorian era, when it was a school for young ladies, and was converted into a pub by Roberts and Son in 1950.

Elsewhere in Worthing the streets were deserted when clocks struck midnight but bangs could be heard for more than 20 minutes as fireworks lit up the night sky.

There was no official firework display in the town but many people saw the new year in by letting off private displays in their gardens.

This year also saw the demise of the tradition of gathering at the clocktower by the Guildbourne Centre, Worthing.

Instead, revellers opted to keep warm inside pubs, many of which were filled to capacity.

Police and fire crews reported a quiet night with few disturbances.

Yates wine bar, in Chapel Road, was open from 11am on New Year's Eve to 1am the following day. It had a "cooling off period" from 5pm to 6pm to prepare for the onslaught and by 8pm it was one in one out entrance only.

The drinks were flowing and spirits were high as 330 party people danced in the new year.

Manager Stuart Roberts said: "The place was rammed. But thankfully there were no fights and everyone had an amazing night. There was so much alcohol consumed we had trouble stocking up the fridges the next day."

Many of the customers dressed in fancy dress for the celebrations. A group of off-duty doormen cast off their hard-men image and stepped into the role of Teletubbies.

Mr Roberts said: "The Teletubbies certainly attracted the ladies with their moves, that's for sure. Although I don't know if my daughter would have approved. They didn't act like they do on the television but it was all in good humour."

Double act Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee also popped into Yates and impressed onlookers with their rosy cheeks and red and blue curly wigs.

Yates staff did not want to be left out of the fun and frolics, so they donned fairy, cowgirl and red indian outfits. The bar was closed for 15 minutes before midnight and 15 minutes after for the staff to celebrate.

At The Assembly bar in Chapel Road, Worthing, the teletubbies made another appearance and again proved popular with the ladies.

More partygoers escaped from freezing temperatures by cramming into The Toad bar, in Chapel Road, for a drink and dance. The Teletubbies were nowhere in sight but two girls made an effort by donning bright pink wigs.

Other people shied away from heaving pubs and opted to attend a traditional servies at churches including St Andrews, in West Tarring.

Several dozen people did brave the bitter cold, though, and welcomed the new year in on the seafront opposite the Berkeley Hotel in Marine Parade.

Earlier in the day, one couple kept warm and carried on the New Years Eve fancy dress tradition by exchanging wedding vows in full medieval attire.

The guests who wore matching medieval outfits were also spotted by passers-by outside Steyne Gardens Methodist Church in Worthing.

Police were kept busy across the county but only recorded minor incidents.

Staggered pub opening hours had helped to keep the peace because revellers did not end up on the streets all at the same time, police said.

Pubs were allowed to open from 10am on New Year's Eve to 10pm yesterday.