Ham Hotel Vat

Ham Hotel, 112 Ham Road, Worthing.

Blaster F. Dickerson.

Ham Hotel Vat

The Ham Hotel was built in 1927 in an area that was a smugglers stronghold in the 19th century.

In the early hours of February 22, 1832, a major smuggling foray took place when 300 kegs of contraband spirits were unloaded at the beach opposite Worthing Steyne. Excise officers chased a group of some two to three hundred men, one of Sussex’s last smuggling gangs up the town’s High Street and alleyways. As the group slowed down to climb the gate guarding the bridge over the Teville Stream that would take them out of Worthing into the ham open fields, horse-mounted excise officers opened fire at point-blank range on the crowd, who were armed only with wooden staves. They shot dead William Cowerson of Steyning and injured several others. Civil unrest was feared and the military were brought into the town for two years to ensure peace was kept.

In later years, the Ham Hotel may well have been built in the area where the smugglers were fired upon, as in 2009 the hotel was renamed the Smugglers Return.