BOOK REVIEW: ‘Fever! The Year Worthing Died …’

Fever! The Year Worthing Died. A comprehensive account of the 1893 Worthing Typhoid Epidemic.

Edited by Colin Reid. Price £14.99. Published by the Friends of Broadwater and Worthing Cemetery, October 2023.

The Worthing Typhoid Epidemic of 1893 was the greatest disaster ever to befall this seaside town, made worse at the time by the misguided incompetence of the Town Council and the way certain people exploited the situation to make themselves rich. Nearly 200 people died and the town turned into the ‘city of the dead’. The epidemic destroyed the carefully nurtured image of Worthing as a healthy seaside resort and the town never fully recovered.

This new book is the first comprehensive account of this terrible tragedy, covering many different aspects of the disaster, with detailed analysis and research; including a full list of all those who sadly died from the disease. It was written by a group of local researchers, which includes Colin Reid, Mary Mckeown, Chris Hare, Malcolm Linfield, Caroline Nelson and Marion Woolgar. Full of fascinating photos, it is a compelling read for all those with an interest in the history of Worthing and who may have family connections with the events described.

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Jomo Kenyatta: further connections to Sussex

I have always regretted not being able to find any photos of Jomo Kenyatta during his wartime years in Sussex – apart from the one allegedly showing him destroying a wasps’ nest and a blurry image of him waving from the balcony of his wartime home at Heath Common near Storrington, that was about all. Many years ago, I was told by a cousin that he had once seen photos of Jomo when he was employed as an agricultural worker at Linfield’s nurseries in Thakeham; he had been shown them by Miss Mabel Willmer, who had occasionally worked with Jomo during the war, and secretively kept them in an old biscuit tin, only to be brought out on special occasions. Unfortunately, after she died, they were never found and she probably destroyed them. Apparently, she really admired Jomo’s flamboyant signet ring which he promised he would give her one day!

Over the years I have made various requests in the media for any surviving photos of Jomo during his time in Sussex, but the effort has always failed to come up with anything. One of the objectives for writing my article about Jomo Kenyatta and his connections with West Sussex was to put the story in the public domain. Therefore, out of the blue, I was very excited when I received a ‘comment’ to our website from Karen Heald who had stumbled across my article on Kenyatta; she said ‘I have lots of photographs of him in Sussex before and during the war including the full sequence of the wasp nest incident taken by my grandfather’. Of course, I immediately got in touch and she was able to send me a cache of some 30 images, many of which are reproduced in this article, thanks to her kindness and her desire to make them available to a much wider audience.  

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