Southwater is very different from the traditional idea of an English country parish. Once largely a farming community, the coming of the railway and the brickworks in the 19th Century started the expansion, which has led to today’s thriving community. The Parish Church, “Holy Innocents” in Church Lane, was consecrated in 1850 but the village itself was not enparished until 1987. The Brickworks and railway have now disappeared but in their place is a £25 million new centre, Lintot Square, complete with a community building housing the Parish Council, Community Police Office and Library. There is a modern health centre, new shops, a pub, restaurants and a mix of housing, all grouped round a spacious square,with parking, seating and a fine piece of artwork, “Dinosaur”. The village boasts large areas of mixed woodland, a network of footpaths, including the Downslink path, Country Park with lake and water based activities, many playgrounds and areas of public open space, a skateboard park, Leisure Centre, complete with Gym, and three schools. The Parish of Southwater also covers the hamlets of Christ’s Hospital, Newfoundout, Coltstaple Lane, Stammerham, Tower Hill and Two Mile Ash. Oakhurst Business Park houses a variety of companies and organisations, including the headquarters of the RSPCA.
The landscape of the village has not changed much since the late 19th Century, the overriding feature being that of open fields broken by shaws, ghylls and hedgerows, many with oak and lime. The major woodland, Pond Farm Ghyll, runs through the village norther to south and is carved by a stream through the harder Horsham stone fragmented on either side by new housing estates.
Trees are very predominant throughout the village, both in the new developments and the parts of the Parish which date back to the 18th Century, and border many of the public open spaces. Much of the soil is Wealdon Clay, which is heavy and sodden in the winter and bone dry during a hot summer. Wildlife is still abundant with deer, foxes, rabbits, badgers, various bird species such as skylarks and bullfinches, not to mention butterflies such as the Purple Emperor.
One of the most noticeable and talked about features today are the road traffic calming measures, with speed humps and chicanes both on the main Worthing Road and at various other points. Worthing Road is one of the longest roads in West Sussex. Other features of the village which should be noted are the Victorian style lamps installed in the new housing developments in order to blend in the new with the older parts of the community.
Much of the older housing in the village dates back before 1940 with many close to the old brickworks and railway line. Both these were finally lost in 1980, with the Country Park and Downslink path emerging in their stead.
Many of the older farms and cottages, such as Great House Farm and Wheelwright and Jasmine Cottages, date back further and are of Sussex style, whitewashed weather-boards with heavy stone slab roofs and stone floors. With no distinct architectural style. The main the modern developments have stuck to a hung tile style and to a degree weather boarding, all with gardens and off-road parking. There are three areas which are considered modern in design. The IBM Computer Centre which overlooks the country park has large smoked glass panels giving a futuristic look yet is not visible from the Worthing Road and is well landscaped. The second is the RSPCA headquarters; this again is futuristic but built to exacting environmental specifications with solar heating/ventilation systems. This building is situated by the new Oakhurst Industrial Park to the north of the village and demand for the new industrial units have exceeded all expectations. Finally, the completion of Lintot Square has brought about a total transformation of what was a 1950 / 60’s industrial estate; thus providing a heart for the community. The buildings incorporate not only the Sussex style but also modern design elements, and provide private housing, affordable housing and retail units.
Land Owned by Southwater Parish Council