Sussex by the Sea

The story of a much-loved song, and its creator

A piece of Sussex history

The county anthem of Sussex, created in 1907 by William Ward-Higgs, has an extraordinary story that is only now being told. Trenches to Terraces  is the biography of this famous song, and its composer.

This jaunty military march has been hugely popular for more than a century, yet little is known of its origins, and next to nothing of its composer. Trenches to Terraces tells the story of both - for the very first time.


The song of Sussex has long inspired millions of its sons and daughters to perform heroic deeds for their county. It became a powerful rallying call for Royal Sussex Regiment soldiers facing the horrors of the Flanders trenches. In contrast, mass renditions of those same verses by Brighton football supporters now reach global television audiences exceeding one billion.


William Ward-Higgs, the Lancashire-born solicitor who composed the piece while briefly resident in rural Sussex, left no records for posterity. But extensive research reveals a life of fulfilment - influenced by Kipling’s poetry, Arts and Crafts design and Suffragette politics – that was no stranger to deep tragedy.


The book catalogues many wonderful recordings and performances of the Sussex song dating from 1914. It seasons historical account with affecting personal recollection from many whose lives the anthem has touched: old soldiers, sportsmen, musicians and bandsmen, and of course, ordinary people. Taken together, they tell the story of this unique musical cornerstone of Sussex history.




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