Alderman James Gurney Denton
The Son of James Gurney and Naomi Denton, Alderman James Gurney Denton was born 1858 in Maulden, Bedfordfordshire, England. He moved to Broadwater West Sussex in 1891.
As a successful grocer and businessman he was four times mayor of Worthing from 1908-10 and again from 1922-24 and a freeman of the Borough.
He owned and ran a number of grocer shops – he purchased ‘Chandlers’ in South Street in 1883 and he owned several other shops in Sussex. His success enabled him to buy the seafront land we now know as Denton Gardens and also the land on which the Assembly Hall now stands.
Without a wife or children, he decided to leave the lion’s share of his wealth to the town that he loved. He gave Denton Gardens to the town in 1922 and in 1933 he gave £40,000 (around £3M in today’s money) to enable the Assembly Hall to be built in Stoke Abbott Road. Home to the largest Wurlitzer in Europe, the Hall is one of the four venues that make up Worthing Theatres network, providing a full programme of comedy, touring music and theatre acts with a capacity of 1100 in the main auditorium.
1959 saw the construction of the Denton Lounge, a pleasant café, restaurant and function room adjoining the Pavilion Theatre, using the remaining funds from Alderman’s gift. In 2015 it was renamed ‘The Denton’ and recently renamed again to ‘The Pavilion Atrium’. Hopefully, one day his name will return in honour of his dedication and love for the town.