The longest bench in Britain lives in Littlehampton, West Sussex and was first opened in July 2010, it can seat over 300 people and sits on the promenade overlooking the town’s beach.
This project must have been so much fun to create, having researched their story behind it and the way it was designed is so inspiring. The design process was helped because Littlehampton promenade sits level with the beach and so there are no handrails or barriers often seen at other beach resorts. Each of the 9000 slats can be sponsored and dedicated to someone, the wood and stainless steel bench flows along the promenade curving round lamp posts and obstacles, twisting up into the seafront shelters, dropping down to paths and crossings.
It was funded by Arun District Council and CABE’s ‘Sea Change’ capital grants programme for cultural and creative regeneration in seaside resorts. The bench was also supported by a private donation from Gordon Roddick as a tribute to his late wife Anita, the founder of The Body Shop, which first began trading in Littlehampton. More information about the design of the award winning bench can be found on the Studio Weave website. The Long Bench is host to hundreds of special messages engraved into the hardwood slats that make up the long bench – they celebrate birthdays, weddings, special events as well as local achievements and triumphs. Many commemorate a loved one and invoke memories of happy times at the beach or in the area. Whether memorial or memory, celebration or anniversary, message of love, a surprise gift, or simply a desire to spread a little seaside joy: make it your own. You can buy a bench slat and specify your own individual message that will be engraved into a new hardwood slat and fitted to the bench. The slat space is yours for a period of 5 years through our slat licencing scheme. The scheme is managed through the wood department at the Aldingbourne Country Centre and people we support with a learning disability are actively involved in fitting your slat and maintaining the bench. (THE ALDINGBOURNE TRUST, s.d. longbench.org)
A project such as this is a real community venture, inspired by local primary school children, what a beautiful way to commemorate a loved one, a unique piece of art made from recycled hardwood, what’s not to like?
(THE ALDINGBOURNE TRUST, s.d. longbench.org) http://www.longbench.org/ (accessed 2.6.21)
Fig. 1 & 2 – The Long Bench, Littlehampton, West Sussex (accessed 2.6.21)