Butlin’s in all its glory is captured in a new book by two former employees from Bognor Regis.
Sylvia Endacott and Shirley Lewis have distilled 75 years of the legendary British holiday company into its 127 pages.
There are more than 200 photographs which bring alive the history of its sites and their leading place in the country’s tourism industry.
Sylvia and Shirley will be signing copies of their book, Butlin’s – 75 Years Of Fun, at WH Smith in the London Road precinct from 11am-1pm on April 30.
Sylvia, of Hillsboro Road, said looking back showed the principle behind the firm had stayed consistent since it was founded by Sir Billy Butlin.
“The company is very much the same as it was in the beginning, but in a 21-st century environment.
“Billy Butlin wanted people to enjoy themselves, have somewhere to eat and sleep, have entertainment and also space to do their own thing.
“That is still happening now, even though the activities have moved with the times.
“When you look at the resort in Bognor, it can accommodate 5,000 guests and is visited by 300,000 people a year. Those are huge numbers and show how popular the company still is.”
Sir Billy arrived in Bognor in 1931 by opening an amusement arcade along the seafront.
Other sites had been opened around the country and were followed by the first holiday camp at Skegness in 1936 which is the anniversary celebrated by Sylvia and Shirley’s book.
The Bognor camp welcomed its first visitors in 1960 and has never looked back. Its current owner, Bourne Leisure, has injected some £50m-plus into three hotels alone in seven years as it upgrades the accommodation from the traditional chalets to modern rooms.
“Bognor is the smallest of the three resorts, but the company is making the most of the space it has with modern forward-looking hotels,” said Sylvia.
“At Skegness, there is lots of beach and lots of room, while at Minehead there are timeshare apartments and a large arena.”
One aspect which has stayed the same is the Redcoats. The role has formed the starting point for many an entertainer.
But Sylvia and Shirley were determined to show there is far more to Butlin’s than that famous jacket.
“When we tell anyone we used to work at Butlin’s, the first question they ask is if we were Redcoats.
“This book tells more than the story of them. We have tried to show the width and depth of the company,” Sylvia said.
It stretched to nine holiday camps and many more hotels at one point before changing holiday trends saw locations such as Ayr, Filey and Clacton pass into history.
They have been brought vividly back to life in the new book alongside the remaining sites, such as Bognor, in a nostalgic telling of the British love of seaside holidays.
And there is every reason to believe another book could be written about Butlin’s when it reaches 150 years old.
Sylvia said: “They could well be here in another 75 years if they carry on reinventing themselves, but still staying true to their roots.”
* Butlin’s – 75 Years Of Fun by Sylvia Endacott and Shirley Lewis is published by The History Press, priced £12.99, ISBN 9 780 752 458632