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Littlehampton Harbour, West Sussex.jpg
Littlehampton Harbour
Grid reference: TQ029020
Location: 50°48’34"N, 0°32’27"W
Population: 25,500
Post town: Littlehampton
Postcode: BN17
Dialling code: 01903
Local Government
Council: Arun
Bognor Regis and Littlehampton
Website: Littlehampton Town Council

Littlehampton is a seaside resort town on the coast of Sussex. It stands at the mouth of the River Arun, on the east bank of the rivermouth. It is found on the long stretch of smooth coast blessed with fine beaches which stretches along the Sussex coast as far as Brighton, 17½ miles eastward. Littlehampton is also 11 miles east of the county town, Chichester.

The parish is inhabited by some 25,593 souls (as at the 2001 census), but with a wider town area of 55,000. Nearby towns rub close against Littlehampton, and form an almost continuous townscape to seaward, which group includes Bognor Regis to the west and Worthing to the east, and looking wider it canbe seen as the westernmost town of a large urban stretching from Brighton, through Worthing and to Littlehampton ultimately, in which some 461,200 people live.

The main business of the town is as a cheerful seaside resort on the English Channel coast.


Traces of settlement at Littlehampton can be found from Roman and even prehistoric times, but the town appeared only in the Anglo-Saxon period. It appears in the Domesday Book of 1086 as the small hamlet of 'Hantone'.[1] The settlement is believed to have been a fishing community around this time, appearing on a French map in around 1100 as 'Hanton'.[1] The settlement is then believed to have been given to the Abbey of St Martin de Séez in Normandy, which owned Littlehampton until around 1400. The area then passed back to the ownership of successive Earls of Arundel and Dukes of Norfolk, whose successors still reside nearby in the Arun dale today.

Littlehampton began to develop as a port as a result of constant silting of the River Arun, perhaps leading to the prefix of 'Little' being added to 'Hampton', in order to distinguish it from the larger Southampton further along the coast.[1] The expansion of port activities led to a new river mouth being cut in 1735, alongside the building of a wooden harbour.

As the eighteenth century progressed, the town developed from a fishing community to a holiday destination; Lord Byron, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Percy Bysshe Shelley and John Constable are all believed to have spent time there.[1]

The town's status as both a port and a holiday resort led to economic success in the nineteenth century, and soon a railway line and a cross-channel ferry to Honfleur in France were introduced. The population of the town grew tenfold over the century, from 584 in 1801 to 5,954 in 1901.[1] Littlehampton remained as a holiday resort in the twentieth century, becoming known as 'The Children's Paradise' in the 1920s.

After the Second World War, Littlehampton saw large-scale house-building on the outskirts of the town, eventually absorbing the surrounding villages of Wick, Lyminster and Toddington, while the commercial element of the town became increasingly focused on boat building and water sports.[1]

In 1967, the town attracted attention by becoming the base for the first ever Blue Peter lifeboat.[2]


St Mary's

Churches in Littlehampton include:

Local issues

The East Beach Café

Littlehampton has received a great deal of publicity[3] as the home of the East Beach Café, a building on the seafront designed by Heatherwick Studio. The building is a fully welded monocoque structure. The building reflects its exposed location with a rough, weathered appearance which Heatherwick describes as being like a piece of weathered flotsam swept up onto the beach. It was built in Littlehampton, with steelwork by Littlehampton Welding Ltd and site work by Langridge Developments, another local firm. The construction of the café caused a stir in Littlehampton, with some seeing it as an eyesore and others welcoming it as a world class piece of architecture and a symbol of regeneration.

Littlehampton Longest Bench opened in mid-July 2010. It was created by an award winning company Studio Weave.

Littlehampton Port

The Arun and its retractable bridge

Littlehampton's port is based around the River Arun and a channel through the shallows stretching from 5 miles out to sea, 6 miles wide, known as the "Littlehampton Channel".

Littlehampton started as a fishing port but now is a thriving port for thousands of leisure craft which visit from all over Britain and Europe. In 2009, use of leisure craft at Littlehampton rose to the extent that at least 200 more moorings were required. Littlehampton is also a commercial port, handling around 50-60 ships a year from Ireland, Holland and France with cargo including marine aggregates, stone, marble chippings and timber.

Open spaces

  • Mewsbrook Park
  • Brookfield Park
  • Rosemead Open Space
  • East Beach Green
  • West Beach Nature Reserve
  • Norfolk Gardens
  • Middle Mead
  • Water Lane Recreation Ground
  • St Catherines Recreation Ground
  • Southfields Recreation Ground

Arts and culture

An annual event is the bonfire procession, bonfire and firework display which are organised by the Bonfire Society.[4]

Littlehampton supports a range of performance groups including Stagedoor Theatre Company, the Musical Comedy Society and Players Operatic Society who perform throughout the year. It also holds a popular 'Last Night of the Proms' concert performed annually by the Littlehampton Concert Band.[5]

LA Pebbles On The Beach is an annual charity music festival held on Beach Green. It features local acts that cross the musical spectrum so that there is something for all tastes during the course of the day. A sequence of monthly fund-raising events ae held in the town prior to the festival itself.

In the media

Littlehampton is the setting for an important episode in British author Kazuo Ishiguro's 2005 novel Never Let Me Go, made into a film in 2011.

Littlehampton was used as a substitute for Swanage and elsewhere in two episodes of the comedy drama series, The Inbetweeners.

Littlehampton was also used as the town centre in Ever Decreasing Circles.

Local radio and press

Littlehamptons local newspaper is the "Littlehampton Gazette", with its headquarters in the town centre.

Amongst the radio stations that serve Littlehampton are BBC Sussex (Brighton), Spirit FM (Chichester), Splash FM (Worthing) & Wave 105 (Southampton).


Public Slipway by Look & Sea

Attractions include the East Beach Café and the 'Look & Sea!' centre which includes the Harbour Lights café and an observation tower.[6]

Harbour Park is at the entrance of the River Arun with a 2 restaurants, 2 arcades a rollercoaster, log flume and other attractions.

ActionBoat sails from next to Harbour Park. A 12-seater RIB boat, it is considered the most thrilling in the South of England. Action Boat offers Speed boat rides to Worthing Peir. As well as River Arun trips, and sightseeing trips to Brighton, Chichester & Isle of Wight. Action boat also dose special trips to power boat shows in Southampton, Lymington, Cowes and Torquay.

Norfolk Gardens, a multi-purpose outdoor site owned by Inspire Leisure, is further along the promenade. The site includes a 9-hole pitch and putt course, 9-hole adventure golf course, tennis and bowls, and the Putting Green Café. The Littlehampton Miniature Railway runs for 800 yards from Norfolk Gardens site to Mewsbrook Park.

Littlehampton harbour is on the River Arun at the western side of the town, with yacht moorings, and on the west bank of the river are Littlehampton Redoubt and Climping sand dunes.

Life boats

Littlehampton has one of the United Kingdom's busiest RNLI lifeboat stations, and one of seven stations operating a lifeboat funded by viewers of the BBC television programme Blue Peter. As well as providing local search and rescue coverage, volunteer crew members also provided humanitarian help during flooding in East Pakistan over 35 years ago.


Yachts moored on the Arun
  • Cricket: Littlehampton, Clapham and Patching Cricket Club
  • Rugby Union: Littlehampton Rugby Club (plays in the Sussex West 2 League) and also involved in many community events
  • Hockey: Littlehampton Hockey Club (one of the oldest hockey clubs in Britain)
  • Football: Littlehampton Town FC (Sussex County League Division Two)
  • Boats and watersport:
    • Arun Yacht Club
    • Littlehampton Sailing & Motor Club
    • Littlehampton Harbour Board - fishing and diving
    • Littlehampton Sailing & Motor Club
  • Golf
  • Littlehampton Arunners Running Club
  • Badminton & Squash Club
  • Littlehampton and District Angling Club


The flints that make up Littlehampton's West Beach contain quite a few fossils.[7] The flints are formed by silica from sea sponges and diatoms from around 60 to 95 Million years ago. Some of the creatures become fossilised and can be seen as patterns on the outside of the flint. These are known locally as Shepherds crowns. The Littlehampton Museum [8] occasionally organises fossil hunting walks during the school holidays.


Beach huts

Outside links