The village was mainly developed between the wars. Houses back directly onto the seafront. Access to the pebbles of the beach, sand is exposed at low-tide, is possible along several footpaths that run through the residential areas. There are a range of coastal defences along the shore such as offshore breakwaters, groynes on shingle beaches and rock walls to protect the properties from the risk of flooding & erosion.
One of the most popular resorts on the south coast, the town has sandy beaches at low tide, funfairs, amusements arcades, cafes, seaside stalls and a nightclub. Bognor was a small fishing village until the late 18th century when it was developed as a resort by Sir Richard Hotham. It grew only slowly until the railway arrived in 1864 and from then on it proved to be popular seaside town to visit.
A year later the pier opened. It consisted of a basic jetty which was some 300 metres in length with a kiosk at the shore end where, for the sum of 1d, visitors could enter and stroll down to the end. In 1900 the first pavilion was built at the seaward end and a landing stage then added to allow paddle steamers to dock. In 1964/5 severe storms caused the this end to collapse. Billy Butlin arrived in Bognor with an entertainment venue called the Recreation Shelter. This was followed by a zoo in 1933 and in 1960, a holiday camp.
Pagham Harbour was made up of three working ports. They were overrun by the sea in the 13th century and the whole harbour, now set well back from the sea, eventually silted up and ceased to be navigable, except for small craft. Pagham Beach is an early 20th century development of chalets, residential properties and low apartment blocks.
Selsey is situated at the end of the Manhood Peninsula which is bordered to its west by Chichester Harbour, to its east by Pagham Harbour. Its southern headland is known as Selsey Bill. Over the centuries, Selsey has derived an income from the sea, mainly fishing. In the eighteenth century, it was much more isolated than it is today and the sand spit extended farther out to sea. It was more of an island with only a causeway to connect it to the mainland, covered at high tide. This aided one of the other major enterprises – smuggling. The town is home to one of the few remaining fishing fleets on the south coast. Selsey crab & lobster are known as some of the best in the world. There is an ongoing and constant battle to protect the coastline and nature reserves from being taken by the sea.
Bracklesham, East Wittering and West Wittering
These villages lie on the coast of the Manhood Peninsula. Their main feature is the long beach, fringed with dunes at West Wittering. The village centres stand away from the sea and holiday homes and apartment fill the gap. Residential streets lead to the sea and there is a large car park and picnic area to the west. The sea is popular with wind and kite surfers and shallow lagoons are left at low tide for beach explorers.