Skegness on the Lincolnshire Coast is where the Butlin’s story began. Founded in 1936 by Billy Butlin, it was the UK’s first-ever holiday camp.
Construction of the camp began in 1935, and when it was opened in 1936, it quickly proved to be a success.
The camp included dining and recreation facilities, such as dance halls and sports fields.
During World War II, the camp was used by the military, serving as a Naval training base known as HMS Royal Arthur. The dance hall became an armoury, and the rose beds were dug up to build air raid shelters. During the war, the Luftwaffe bombed Royal Arthur 52 times, including one riad on 21 August 1940, when an attack led to the damage or demolition of 900 small buildings.
The site reverted to being a holiday camp on 11 May 1946. The camp contained a funfair, a ballroom, a boating lake, tennis courts, a sports field (for the three-legged and egg & spoon races), table tennis and snooker tables, amusement arcades, a theatre, arcades of shops, a chairlift system and a miniature railway (and later a monorail).
Since then, the camp has seen continuous use and development, with substantial investment and redevelopment. In 1962, the camp played a part in the formation of the lineup of The Beatles when Paul McCartney and John Lennon visited the camp to meet Ringo Starr, who was playing drums with Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, who had a summer booking at the camp, to offer Starr the drummer’s position with The Beatles.
For several years, between 1956 and 1959, the comedian and TV presenter Dave Allen worked as a Redcoat at the camp.
In the late 1990s, the site was re-branded as a holiday resort and remains open today as one of three remaining Butlins resorts, catering for over 400,00 visitors a year.