Title ID 3377Collection ID433
Title[Glimpses of Pre-war Worthing and Everyday Folk]
Date1938 - 1939
CollectionEric Sparks
ThemeUrban Life Transport Fashion
KeywordsBuilding Construction Buildings Everyday Life Fire Services Houses Labour Mothers Motor Vehicles Roads Trains Urban Areas Weather Winter Workers Clothing Fashion Coats Hats Trousers Uniforms
RegionalWest Sussex
NationalEngland United Kingdom
ProductionEric J. Sparks
CameraEric J. Sparks
FormatStandard 8mm Black & White Silent
Duration23 min. 43 sec.
Copyright & AccessCopyright restrictions apply, contact Screen Archive South East for details


This silent amateur film captures numerous street scenes in Worthing, in particular those which took place during the harsh winter of 1938. It also records 'Sparks and Son Builders and Contractors' working on various local buildings.


The camera films Worthing street scenes from a rooftop - a double decker bus passes along South Farm Road whilst motor vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians wait at the gated railway crossing for a Southern Railway train leaves Worthing Central Station. Workers from Sparks and Son Builders and Contractors continue work on the wooden frame of the new grandstand at Castle Road rugby pitch, laying flextile shingles on its roof. Heavy snow has settled on the streets of Worthing - residents and workers attempt to clear the roads and pavements, and to continue their daily lives. The detached houses and gardens of Parkfield Road, and Tarring Recreation Ground look picturesque in the snow, but the weather's hazardous character is also captured on film - a car has to be freed from a road's icy grip. The snow disperses and builders from Sparks and Son get to work on various buildings - they knock down an entire shopfront, utilizing a supporting steel girder to advertise the business. A poster promotes the killing of rats during National Rat Week. A fire-engine travels through the streets and firemen accompanying the Mayor in procession to the Public Library (the building which now houses Worthing Museum and Art Gallery). Roadworks on South Farm Road divert a bus along the narrow back streets before it reaches the railway crossing.


A still from [Glimpses of Pre-war Worthing and Everyday Folk] (1938-1939)A still from [Glimpses of Pre-war Worthing and Everyday Folk] (1938-1939)A still from [Glimpses of Pre-war Worthing and Everyday Folk] (1938-1939)A still from [Glimpses of Pre-war Worthing and Everyday Folk] (1938-1939)A still from [Glimpses of Pre-war Worthing and Everyday Folk] (1938-1939)A still from [Glimpses of Pre-war Worthing and Everyday Folk] (1938-1939)

Contextual information

[Glimpses of Pre-war Worthing and Everyday Folk] (1938 - 1939) was filmed by Eric Sparks, a keen amateur film-maker who made fairly sophisticated films showing Worthing and the local area, the work of his builder's firm and his interest in the West Sussex railway.

In this film Eric Sparks recorded transport, everyday life and the work of family firm 'Sparks and Son' in his hometown of Worthing during the final few months of peace before the Second World War. Worthing was targeted by German bombers during the War and its character changed greatly in the post-war years when rapid land development altered the landscape and demographic. Sparks' film therefore captures images of buildings and everyday life which no longer exist today. It also captures what was arguably the whitest winter experienced by Britain in the 20th century - heavy snow fell daily for over a week at Christmas.

Worthing developed as a popular winter and summer resort during the 20th century - Screen Archive South East films such as [Worthing Seaside] (ca. 1934) and Sussex Coast (1979 - 1980) provide images of the tourist attractions. Consequently they offer a different perspective on the town than those captured by Eric Sparks as a local resident.

Fashion Notes: This film shows work clothing including that of a roof tiler, bus conductor, firemen and builders. It also illustrates traditional mayoral robes and legal dress. There are also some examples of everyday winter outerwear.

Fashion keywords: aprons, belts, boots, braces, caps, ceremonial costume, coats, fire hats, flat caps, helmets, hoods, jackets, overalls, shirts, stockings, sweaters, trousers, tunics, uniforms, wigs

For further information see Screen Search Fashion online resource.

Related titles

Related resources


Elleray, D. Robert. Worthing: Aspects of Change. n.p.: Phillimore, 1985

This book of photographs charts the development of Worthing. Copies are available at various West Sussex libraries.

White, Sally. Around Worthing in Old Photographs. n.p.: Alan Sutton, 1991

This book contains a collection of archive photographs which record the people, events and buildings of Worthing until ca. 1950. Copies are available at various West Sussex libraries.


Worthing Museum and Art Gallery

The Worthing Museum and Art Gallery houses a collection which includes toys, costume, art and a local history archive.


British in Winter's Icy Grip* (1938)

This Universal News newsreel features, "the snow which is covering most of Britain during the winter of 1938." The film is searchable via the The British Universities Film and Video Council's News On Screen database.


Worthing Gazette* (1889-1980)

This local newspaper is held on microfilm at Worthing Library.

Worthing Herald* (1920-1980, 1987-)

This local newspaper is held on microfilm at Worthing Library.


British History Online (BHO)

This is the website for British History Online, containing "printed primary and secondary sources for the medieval and modern history of the British Isles." It includes material from Victoria History of the County of Sussex - Volume VI Part 1 has a history of Worthing. Copies of the book are available at various East and West Sussex libraries.


Screen Search Fashion

This online resource provides a thematic guide for students interested in fashion and dress. The site offers pathways into aspects of fashion and dress as depicted in archive film from the inter-war period in the Screen Archive South East collections.