(All images by author)
Throughout much of the twentieth century, holiday camps such as Butlins and Pontins have been a feature of the British seaside. In their heyday, in the 1950s and ’60s, millions of people flocked to the coast to enjoy family holidays at them. But the past few decades have seen a marked decline in customers and many resorts have become abandoned.
Sir Billy Butlin opened his first resort in Skegness in 1936, his aim being to provide ‘a week’s holiday for a week’s pay’. The model was such a success that over the following years he opened further resorts in Clacton, Filey, Ayr, Pwllheli and Mosney. In 1946 Pontins followed suit with its first camp at Brean Sands.
Offering a mix of family entertainment and activities, these camps continued to thrive until the 1970s when a decrease in the cost of flights made foreign package holidays more affordable. This, in conjunction with increasing operational costs and changes in consumer demand, led to their eventual decline.
Butlins at Filey closed in 1983 and has been completely demolished, with nothing of the camp’s extensive bars, ballrooms and boating lakes now surviving. What still remains, however, is the abandoned station across the road from the former site. This was the terminus of a short branch line running from the Filey-Hunmanby line and consisted of four long platforms which brought holiday makers directly to the camp.
Visitors were then taken from the station into the camp itself by a road ‘train’ running through a private subway. The fall in the number of overall visitors combined with a greater number travelling by car, saw the station close before the camp and the last train ran on Saturday July 17, 1977. The abandoned station is now in private hands and has become a storage space for agricultural machinery and building materials, but the platforms, buffers and lights are still visible amongst the undergrowth.
Keep reading – check out 7 Eerie Abandoned Resorts and Holiday Destinations, and do some urban exploring at 8 Abandoned Hospitals, Hotels and Schools.