Bognor Regis

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Bognor Regis
Bognor Regis seafront, England.jpg
Bognor Regis seafront
Grid reference: SZ934989
Location: 50°46’57"N, 0°40’35"W
Population: 22,555  (2001)
Post town: Bognor Regis
Postcode: PO21-22
Dialling code: 01243
Local Government
Council: Arun
Bognor Regis and Littlehampton
Website: Bognor Regis Town Council

Bognor Regis is a seaside resort town in Sussex. It stands on the coast of the English Channel 6 miles south-east of the city of Chichester and 24 miles west of Brighton. Other nearby towns include Littlehampton east-north-east and Selsey to the south-west. The nearby villages of Felpham and Aldwick are now suburbs of Bognor Regis, along with those of North and South Bersted.

Name of the town

Bognor is one of the oldest recorded Old English place names in Sussex. In a document of the year 680 it is referred to as Bucgan ora meaning Bucga's shore, or landing place.[1]

The suffix "Regis" was granted as an especial favour by King George V, who was a frequent visitor here for its healthy air.

The town

The shopping precinct

Bognor Regis has a large town centre, much of which has either been pedestrianized or made pedestrian-friendly. Since the end of World War Two the town has been subject to some piece-meal commercial redevelopment, notably in the early 1960s when a new shopping parade and road (called Queensway), a health centre and a high-rise block of flats were built on land just north-west of the High Street. In the three decades between 1950 and 1980 much residential development took place to the west and north of the town, since then mostly in-fill development has taken place, predominantly redeveloping land on brownfield sites that had formerly been used for commercial business.

The town has several areas, and buildings, that still firmly link it with its past. Good examples, and prominent local landmarks, are the Royal Norfolk Hotel and Hotham Park.

The parish church is dedicated to St Wilfrid.


Bognor Regis was originally named just "Bognor", being a fishing (and one time, smuggling) village until the 18th century, when it was converted into a resort by Sir Richard Hotham.

Bognor was a part of the ancient parish of South Bersted in the county of Sussex, attaining parish status separate from South Bersted in 1828. Until 1894 it formed part of the Hundred of Aldwick, an ancient division of Chichester Rape.

Tourism gradually took off in Bognor during the 19th century, with the area being chosen as an ideal location for King George V]] to convalesce during 1929, the King and Queen actually staying at Craigwell House [2] in Aldwick.

As a result of this royal connection, the King was asked to bestow the suffix "Regis" ("of the King") on the town, which honour was indeed granted.[3]

The historic meeting of the crews (and associated handshake) of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project on 17 July 1975 was intended to have taken place over Bognor Regis, but a flight delay caused it to occur over Metz in France instead.[4]

Bognor Regis town centre was damaged in 1994 by an IRA device left in a bicycle outside Woolworths. Fifteen shops were damaged but no injuries occurred. [5]

On the beach between Bognor Regis and Aldwick lies the wreck of a Floating Pontoon. It is part of the Mulberry Harbour which was towed across to Normandy on D-Day, 6 June 1944. This particular section of Mulberry did not make it across the channel and was washed up on the beach shortly after D-Day. It is clearly visible at low tide throughout the year.

"Bugger Bognor"

There are two tales explaining how King George V came to utter the words "Bugger Bognor", in private.

The King came to Bognor for convalescence during the latter part of his reign, as a result of which the town petitioned for the grant of the title "Regis". The petition was presented to Lord Stamfordham, the King's Private Secretary, who in turn delivered it to the King. King George supposedly replied, "Oh, bugger Bognor." Lord Stamfordham then went back to the petitioners and told them, "the King has been graciously pleased to grant your request."[6]

A different version of the "Bugger Bognor" incident is that the King, upon being told, during a period of illness, that he would soon be well enough to revisit Bognor, uttered the words "Bugger Bognor!" Although there is little evidence that these words were actually spoken in this context, and although the sea air helped the King to regain his health, it is certain that the King had little regard (to put it mildly) for the town.[7]


Butlin's Holiday Resort

Butlin's Bognor Regis Resort

Billy Butlin opened one of his Butlin's Holiday Camps in Bognor in 1960. The camp later became known as Southcoast World until 1998 and is now known as Butlin's Bognor Regis Resort. In 1999 Butlin's erected a large indoor leisure park, the buildings construction sharing aspects similar with the Millennium Dome in London. In 2005, a new £10 million hotel, called "The Shoreline" was unveiled at the Bognor Regis resort.[8] A second hotel "The Ocean" opened on the site in Summer 2009 and general landscaping and upgrading has also taken place. Postcards featuring the Butlins' Reception Hall and Sun Lounge were reprinted in the book Boring Postcards (1999).

More luxury hotels are planned for the site. In May 2009 Butlins have also announced that they will be looking into adding a third hotel to the Bognor Regis site.[9]


Birdman of Bognor

Bognor Regis Pier at low tide

The International Bognor Birdman was an annual competition for human-powered 'flying' machines held each summer in Bognor Regis. Contestants launch themselves from the end of the pier; a prize being awarded to the one who glides the furthest distance. Rarely taken completely seriously, the event provides competitors with an opportunity to construct improbable machines complete with outlandish dress. The spectacle drew a sizeable crowd in addition to the local media. Inaugurated in nearby Selsey in 1971, the Birdman transferred to Bognor in 1978 when it had outgrown its original location. Such celebrities as Richard Branson are famous for taking the leap of faith.

The Birdman Event of 2008 was transferred to Worthing at the '11th hour' due to 60 feet of pier being removed by the owners due to storm damage March 2008. This meant that there were question marks over the possible safety of the contestants landing in shallower water. Bognor is once again the official home of the competition after all safety concerns were proved to be unfounded in 2010.[10]

Music and festivals

Each summer Bognor Rox free music and arts festival is held, with two stages for artists to perform.[11] The town is also home to the Bognor Regis Concert Band, who perform at various local locations and events, including the yearly "Proms in the Park".[12]

Theatre and cinema

The Alexandra Theatre is a 352-seat auditorium showing a variety of entertainment from comedy to drama to pantomime. It replaced the Esplanade Theatre in the late 1970s. It is well supported by local people and intends to stay where it is in spite of plans to demolish it.

The film The Punch and Judy Man, starring Tony Hancock, was made in Bognor Regis. Several scenes of the film Wish You Were Here, were also filmed in Bognor Regis.

External scenes from the comedy series "Hope It Rains".

More recently, the BBC TV series Jekyll had several scenes throughout the series set in Bognor.

The Picturedrome in Canada Grove, a listed building has been in use as a cinema since 1887. It was recently purchased by Bognor Regis Town Council, and there are plans by both the council and the Operator to restore, improve and refurbish it. It shows all the current releases and has just replaced the old 35ml projectors with the latest digital projection equipment, it also boasts the largest screen along the south coast.

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Bognor Regis)


  1. Glover, J: Sussex Place Names pp. 31-32. Countryside Books, 1997
  2. "A Brief History of Bognor Regis". Retrieved 2009-07-07. 
  3. "Bognor Regis Why Bognor "Regis"? in Bognor Regis". Retrieved 2009-07-07. 
  4. NASA History: SP-4209 The Partnership: A History of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project; 17 July-The Rendesvous.
  5. Chichester Observer article on the bombing
  6. Antonia Fraser, ed (2000). A royal history of England. University of California Press. p. 36. ISBN 0520228030. 
  7. Rose, Kenneth: King George V, London 1983. pp. 359–361
  8. No place like holidaying at home
  9. A Third Butlin's Hotel is planned
  10. "Birdman Pier Length Investigations". 
  11. Rox festival Rox homepage
  12. Rox festival Bognor Regis Concert Band Official Site