Photographer’s memories of Sir Winston Churchill in Worthing

As the country marks the 50th anniversary of the death of Sir Winston Churchill, David Nicholls, former picture editor of the Worthing Herald, recalls the visit of the eminent politician and his wife, Lady Churchill, to Worthing in October 1958.

Sir Winston Churchill at the Connaught Theatre
Sir Winston Churchill at the Connaught Theatre

The couple were visiting the Connaught Theatre to see their actress daughter Sarah perform the leading role in Terence Rattigan’s play ‘Variation on a Theme’.

David was among the press photographers covering the event and still has copies of the photos in his collection.

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He said: “It was a very memorable occasion; hundreds of people collected in Union Place and when the car drew up they surged forward to have a view of the couple. A cordon of police held back the large crowd outside the theatre.

Sir Winston Churchill at the Connaught Theatre

“Sir Winston stood and waved to the onlookers and photographers and doffed his hat in appreciation.”

As he stepped inside the theatre, the former wartime Prime Minister was greeted by Melville Gilham, managing director of the Connaught.

Sir Winston and Lady Churchill were also introduced to the Mayor and Mayoress of Worthing, Alderman and Mrs Horace Steele. Alderman Steele was a director of the theatre.

The distinguished couple then entered the theatre auditorium, to be welcomed by a full house audience of more than 900 people, waving their programmes and cheering.

This was followed by a rousing chorus of ‘For He’s A Jolly Good Fellow’, as they took to their seats in the third row of the stalls by the gangway.

After the second act, Sir Winston went backstage and, for the benefit of cameramen and press photographs, he posed with his daughter Sarah and members of the cast.

Sarah Churchill was then presented with a bouquet by Connaught manager Kenneth Ewing on behalf of her parents.

After the show, Sir Winston and Lady Churchill left the Connaught Theatre and waved to the waiting crowds.