Angmering Development from 1800 - An Overview

During the 19th Century the population of Angmering grew only slowly and, indeed, there were periods when it actually fell. The general growth mainly resulted from improved health and living standards which meant a lower mortality rate. The fluctuations were largely caused by emigration resulting from poverty caused by falling wage rates ('Swing Riots') and agricultural mechanisation and the movement of population towards towns and cities in expectation of higher wages. Until the 1830s, Angmering was a district hiring 'town' for agricultural labour, but the impact of agricultural change saw the demise of the hire of labour on the traditional basis of annual hire fairs and the commencement of what could be described as modern Angmering.

To a degree, the financial impact of these changes was stemmed in Angmering by the mid-19th Century as a result of the rise of the coastal seaside towns and the establishment of market gardening to satisfy the needs of both the resorts and the London market, the latter now being accessible because of the building of the railways, the local line opening in 1846.

However, it was not until the 1920's that real growth started. It might have started earlier if World War I had not occurred as the war took its toll on the male population.

WWI was also a turning point socially. History has taught us that the result of major wars is inevitably change and that is exactly what happened in the 1920s. The class system was under attack. Working men were no longer prepared to kow-tow to the squire and the landowner - after serving their country through the Great War, they demanded better. The influence of the clergy had also greatly diminished by this time. The population demanded better housing and sub-standard housing was demolished and new housing with modern sanitation emerged which in turn assisted health improvement and that fuelled population growth and the demand for even more housing.

A little earlier in 1894, as a result of The Parish Councils Act (1894), the Angmering Parish Council came into being and this elected body took over from the Vestry, effectively run by the squire, landowners and clergy. However, in its early days, the Council was still influenced by these people and social change was accordingly stymied. Following WW1, with the village hierarchy sidelined, the Council realised it had the power to change the local environment and thereafter took a real lead in the community. Arguably the reason for its strength was the continuity of its leadership, Dr Clement Chaplin being its Chairman from 1921-1946.

Back-tracking into Angmering in the mid-19th Century, the church and school were re-built (designed by the architect S.S. Teulon) and re-opened in 1853 as a result of the generosity of the squire of Ham Manor, William Gratwicke Kinleside Gratwicke. This must have tidied the area up Church Hill but the design of the church was not to everyone's taste. The late 19th Century saw the emergence of builders who could react to the demand for more houses and produce them economically. The two most successful in Angmering who were in direct competition with one another were Thomas Jarratt and Edwin Albert Harris. Between them they built many of the houses in the village between 1900 and 1920. Harris, for example built the Water Lane houses (including Gladstone Cottages), The Cottrells, and some superior ones in the High Street - including Mont Coline for himself.

In the early 1920s, Harris (a socialist) retired from building and concentrated on local politics giving his business to Arthur Penn, his foreman carpenter. Penns went on to build houses in Angmering, East Preston, Clapham, Amberley etc for the next 60 years. They were joined by other local builders such as Pesketts of Angmering and Owens of Rustington.

With the rising population, Angmering required further facilities. In the 1920's, new shops were built in The Square and leading up to St Margaret's Church and, thanks to the generosity of Walter Butcher of Ecclesden Manor, the Village Hall was constructed in 1926 to cater for community activities.

As an Angmering Parish Councillor and a District Councillor, Edwin Harris fought for better housing for the workers and improved sanitation. Although well meaning, it resulted in the loss of part of Angmering's heritage. In the 1930s, cottages at the bottom of Dappers Lane in Water Lane were demolished, as were the historic Bunnes Cottages (opposite Woodies Newsagents), and Barrack Yard Cottages in the High Street. People were re-housed in the new council houses (now called social housing) which started to be built about 1936 in Arundel Road and Palmer Road. The outbreak of WW2 halted the process which recommenced after the war.

The mains water supply and mains sewerage system came to Angmering in the late 1920s but it was not until the early 1960s that street lighting was introduced as a result of pressure from the village school's headmaster, Councillor Leslie Baker.

The rise and further rise of nursery businesses in Angmering after WW1, and the workforce required to assist in the running of them, fueled a demand for new housing. At the upper end of the market, Angmering was also becoming a socially notable place to live. Within two or three years before the outbreak of war in 1939, building commenced in The Thatchway and at Ham Manor. At the middle/lower end of the market, Mill Road, Mill Road Avenue and Lloyd Goring Close were started. War halted these projects but building recommenced after 1945 and carried on into the 1950s.

There was a massive rise of the parish's population between 1961 and 1981. In this period, developments such as Bewley Road, Chantryfield, Greenacres Ring, Weavers Ring , The Avenalls, Cumberland Road, and Downs Way & Arlington Crescent areas (both south of the A259) were all established. In 1967, a small number of shops were built at the east end of Downs Way.

To serve the growing educational needs of the community and the rising population, the Older's Primary School (now the Village Library) which had been on that site since 1682 closed its doors in 1965 and moved to a new site at the top of Arundel Road and was re-named St. Margaret's C of E Primary School. St. Wilfrid's RC Primary School opened in the late C19 to meet the needs of the Roman Catholic community and this expanded in the late C20 and early C21 as many non-Catholic children were admitted. In the 1970s, The Angmering School was built to cater for secondary education.

Between 1981 and 2001 there was steady but unspectacular growth in Angmering. It was still an attractive village and a socially acceptable place to live but people were also recognising that it was possible to live in a semi-rural setting and still enjoy the benefits of the nearby towns which were only a few minutes car journey away. Access to all parts of the compass was easy and it had a railway station on its doorstep for commuters. This gave rise to a spurt in the building of houses in the mid-priced sector. On of the largest developments of this time was The Dell where 300 houses were built by Hargreaves Construction between the late 1970s and the late 1980s. There was also development of the Beech View and Merryfield Crescent area at this time. In the late-1980s, in the upper end of the market, further development took place to the south of East and West Drives, Ham Manor.

From the 1950s, the increase of this building and other developments outside the parish, together with the rise in car ownership, were to have a significant impact on the village and particularly its core. Shops in the High Street closed one by one as a result of lower prices offered by supermarkets and specialist shops that were now easily accessible. Angmering also became a major through-route for traffic moving north from Rustington, East Preston and Ferring and the out-of-town retail park on the Rustington/Angmering boundary. Volume of traffic through the village and lack of parking spaces aggravated the position of Angmering's shopkeepers and, by 2016, only a few shops remain in the centre including a convenience food store (now combined with a Post Office), three hairdressers, fried fish shop, Indian takeaway, butchers and bakers, tea room, craft shop, two estate agents, and a newsagent. Shops that had extended up the High Street in the 19th Century are all gone bar the barbers at the foot near The Square.

The small nursery businesses survived until the 1960s by which time cheap foreign imports had largely killed the market although mushroom growing continued until comparatively recently. Garden centres, and some flower growing to satisfy their needs, have to a lesser degree filled part of the gap.

However, other areas have benefited, and with a rising and more affluent population, the restaurant businesses in particular have grown significantly and are thriving, helped to a degree by the building of Bramley Green between 2002 and 2006. Within the parish there are 5 public houses all offering food (The Lamb, The Spotted Cow, The Fox, The Woodman and The Roundstone) plus the Angmering Manor Hotel, an Indian restaurant, an Indian take-away, and a tea room. Cafés in the two large garden centres (Haskins and Wyevale) have also emerged.

The Bramley Green development was first mooted in the early 1990s and was brought about by pressure from central Government to build more houses in South East England. There was much resistance from the local population as there was fear that the local infrastructure could not support an increase in the population of some 1800-2000 additional people in the parish resulting from 600+ new houses and the additional traffic that would be generated through the village centre. These fears were partially assuaged when Angmering by-pass opened on 28 February 2003, and traffic calming measures in the village reduced a significant volume of traffic through the heart of the village.

In April 2006, a new purpose-built Medical Centre was opened between The Thatchway and North Drive. Attached to it was a new chemist/pharmacy (Lloyds) which moved from The Square.

To serve the increased population, a community centre (opened October 2009) was built at Bramley Green by Angmering Parish Council to serve the whole of the village's population, although its establishment was not without controversy. However, the fears of noise and bad behaviour never materialised and the centre has proved popular and a great success story.

In April 2009, the Government approved the formation of the South Downs National Park which will encompass the downland area stretching from Beachy Head to Winchester. Unlike the majority of parishes across Sussex and Hampshire, which either fall within or are outside the National Park, Angmering was split within the two. Geographically, more than half the parish is in the National Park. All of Angmering north of the A27 comes within the Park plus all the land directly north of the lower footpath running from Ecclesden Manor to the chalkpits below Highdown.

In 2014, Haskins opened its re-built Garden Centre with other businesses opening on the larger site. 2016 will see the opening of the new centralised Chandlers car showrooms and servicing centre on land west of Windmill Bridge and south of the A259. The Aldi supermarket chain has confirmed that it will be opening a store just west of Chandlers, and Marks & Spencer Simply Food are also submitting plans to open a store at a site further west of Aldi.

Following the expansion of the Haskins site on the A259 followed by the opening of the Asda supermarket (Ferring) on the south side of the road, plus the building of one of the largest Sainsbury's/Argos supermarkets in southern England and Dunelm homeware store (both in Rustington), traffic on the A259 increased substantially leading to frequent delays. In December 2015, West Sussex County Council announced that it was planning to start the dualling of the single carriageways between the Station Road (Angmering) roundabout and the A280 roundabout at the end of 2017. The dualling of this stretch of road was first tabled in the 1960s.

The biggest current threat to Angmering at present is central Government's demand for more houses in the South-East. This manifested itself as an Arun District Council "Local Development " plan, which identified the need to to build 700+ additional houses in the parish of Angmering by the year 2029. This proposal was resisted by the Parish Council, The Angmering Society, "Save Angmering Village", and many individuals in the parish as Angmering did not have the infrastructure to cope with an increased population that more houses would bring. Despite central Government's plan for local communities to determine the number of new dwellings that were needed, Arun District Council fearing sanctions from central Government after a reversal of policy, approved outline proposals in May 2014 to build an additional 600-800 new homes east of Roundstone Lane (much on the previous Manor and VHB nurseries). The building of Swanbourne Park commenced in 2015 and the first occupants moved in later that year.

Neil Rogers-Davis

Last updated 12 February 2016