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Holiday Camps (Shire Library) Paperback – 10 Jun 2010
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About the Author
Kathryn Ferry is a writer and historian specialising in the British seaside. She has a PhD in architectural history and has written for Shire on beach huts, British seaside holidays and the Victorian home.
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Surprisingly to some, it wasn't just Billy Butlin, Fred Pontin and Harry Warner that owned holiday camps; men such as Fletcher Dodd, Bert Potter and `Maddy' Maddieson also built and ran their own camps but these didn't last the distance. As an alternative to intimidating landladies and their strict rules, apart from set mealtimes, seaside holiday camps allowed the paying customer the freedom to come and go as they please without the need to put their hand in their pocket. (Everything may have been free but the negative aspect, certainly at Butlin's, was being woken at 7am for the first breakfast sitting - there was at least one chalet at Ayr that had the wires to its loudspeaker cut.)
For those old enough to have visited these holiday camps in their heyday between 1946 and 1970, the plethora of photos will bring back memories, both happy and nightmarish - that 7am wake up call being just one - whilst younger readers may wonder why a week's holiday at such places was a big deal. Mind you, the photograph of a `typical dining room' at Butlin's Bognor Regis camp will make you wonder why demand exceeded supply. All the favourite contests are included: Knobbly Knees, Glamorous Granny, Miss Holiday Camp and Bonny Baby. Missing a mention is the Shiniest Bald Head competition that I remember being held at Warner's Dovercourt Bay camp.
For anyone with a passing interest in British holiday camps or wants to reminisce about Redcoats, Bluecoats, Greencoats and tannoy calls of, `Baby crying in chalet 217' should delve into this. What sounds depressing is that there is virtually nothing remaining of the camps built in the 1930s - at least the photos survive. It won't take long to read but it will make you feel a bit nostalgic.
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