55e – Littlehampton Part I

It is said that Littlehampton is home to the World’s Longest Wooden Bench.  It runs along the seafront.  We were excited in the extreme when we arrived, as you can tell from this picture of us sitting on it:

Not-The-World's Longest BenchOh!  Are we not looking that excited?  Perhaps this is because we have found out that this is not the World’s Longest Wooden Bench.  That accolade belongs to a long wooden bench in Japan, built in 2011, which stands at 653.02 metres. According to various internet sources of varying reliability, Littlehampton’s bench stands at 324 metres or perhaps 342 metres, which means one of the sites has the “2” and the “4” mixed up.  According to one hopeful website, Littlehampton’s bench stands at 655 metres.  That would give it the crown of the World’s Longest Bench, but Guinness have yet to be persuaded – the figure is clearly wrong.

Suffice to say that whilst Littlehampton’s bench may not be the longest in the world, it is still very long.  It is so long that certain design features have been necessary in order to retain the length of the bench whilst still accommodating local infrastructure:

Not-The-World's Longest BenchThe council have had to make some difficult decisions when it comes to priorities:

Not-The-World's Longest BenchOne of the best things about this bench is that it has been incorporated into a work of art in various places.  Wow!  If only I had some Scalextric cars on me!

Not-The-World's Longest BenchThese parts of the bench actually seemed quite comfortable!

Not-The-World's Longest BenchLittlehampton’s bench may not be the longest in the world, but it is the longest in Britain.  Each of the 9,000 slats can be sponsored and dedicated to someone.  There is a slat there somewhere dedicated to Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop.  She died in 2008, but was born in Littlehampton and opened her first shop in Brighton.  Her husband donated £100,000 towards the £500,000 total cost of construction.

The problem is that the Council are running out of slats.  In 2012 they announced they had plans to extend the bench and so steal the crown of World’s Longest Bench from the Japanese.  How easy that might be in these times of austerity I do not know, but every now and again you need to announce you are going to do something you might never achieve – like walking around the coastline of Britain I suppose…

Points on this part of the walk (copy and paste the co-ordinates into Google Earth):

  • Longest Bench Art Housing:  N 50° 48.157 W 000° 32.260

Walk #55 Statistics (of which this post forms the fifth part):

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9 Responses to 55e – Littlehampton Part I

  1. happenchancelife says:

    How wonderful! I am from Texas but I was luck enough to live in Devon for a while and I had the opportunity to walk along part of the coastal path. It is one of my favorite memories from my time in England. I love that you are doing it as a family. I hope to have a similar experience someday!

  2. winderjssc says:

    Don’t you think Littlehampton is cheating a bit with all the twirly bits of bench at the bus stop? Still, quite a remarkable piece of functional artwork for such a small place.

    • Wingclipped says:

      Funnily enough I had to debate this with a friend of mine last week. In view of the fact that the bench is run into the ground at a couple of points (see the pictures) our discussion descended into a “when is a bench not a bench” dispute which was never resolved.

      All I can say is that I would prefer an interesting bench with lots of weird and wonderful variations to it than a boring old straight bench that has to be sited in the middle of nowhere so they can fit it in, and where it is so much in the middle of nowhere that nobody is around to sit on it and actually use the thing!

      So I suppose I will conclude that the bendy bits simply bend the rules as much as they bend the bench, but I’m all for it!

  3. Very entertaining. Functional, drolly artistic, and evidence of civic ingenuity. But wouldn’t it be ‘Hot Wheels’ or ‘Whizz Wheels’ rather than Scalextric cars, which would fail to loop the loop?

    • Wingclipped says:

      I did actually consider putting Hot Wheels instead of Scalextric, but to me it just seemed more reminiscent of the latter. Besides, the way I drive Scalextric cars they’d make the loops without incident!

  4. Jody says:

    Well, that stretch was great fun!

  5. Jill says:

    Do you really think you won’t make it all the way around Britain? 😦

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