My Brief Time Working at Butlin’s Holiday Camp in the late 70s (Brief being the operative word)
In 1978 I thought it might be a good idea to get away from home for a while, stand on my own two feet and gain some experience on my own in the big wide world, so I applied for a job at Butlin’s Holiday Camp at Filey on the North Yorkshire coast. The least said about that the better but suffice it to say, I didn’t remain long in that job; in fact I didn’t start it. Well while I’m on the subject I might as well explain what happened. I applied to Butlin’s for a job as a Green Coat, which was in the role of a security guard. My thoughts at the time were that this will be good experience and will stand me in good stead for when I apply for the Police Force later in the year. The pay was good, I was to get £29.00 per week which to a 17/18 year old was very good money.
I boarded the train at Warrington Bank Quay with suitcase and guitar in hand. Only kidding, about the guitar, but I had the suitcase which weighed an absolute ton due to it containing several pairs of Platform Shoes. I then travelled by train from Warrington to Leeds and then changed at Leeds for York and then I think, from York to Scarborough. The journey seemed to last forever. When I eventually reached Scarborough I jumped into a taxi which took me to Filey Holiday camp, a journey of about seven miles a lovely journey with picturesque views of the North Sea to my left from high up on the hill road. The taxi driver was a bit on the rough side and was saying I would have a great time working there and would make love to many women, he didn’t exactly use those words but I’m sure you know what I mean.
Anyway, I reached the camp with my three and a half ton suitcase and went to reception and introduced myself. From that moment on I began to have doubts about the whole thing. I was made to wait in reception for what seemed like forever whilst I was being processed.
I had great expectations about my accommodation. I imagined it would be like a 5 Star Hotel with a spacious room all to myself complete with a huge bed and an en-suite bathroom with a Jacuzzi not to mention the mini bar and tea and coffee making facilities to go with it. That will do nice thank you very much.
I was eventually shown to my accommodation. To use the word disappointment would be an understatement and wouldn’t describe my thoughts at the time adequately. What a shock!! I was taken to an area just off camp and there I was confronted with rows and rows of tiny wooden chalets that had seen better days. My heart sank when the man said this is yours and handed me a key. From the outside the chalet appeared to be made from rotten wood and hadn’t seen a lick of paint for decades.
The inside was even worse. There were two single beds, one on each side of the room but it was almost like a double bed because the gap between the two beds was virtually non-existent. At the end of my bed (I didn’t actually sleep in it so it wasn’t really mine), was a small dirty sink and a dirty cracked mirror. There was also a green jacket hung up that I presume was mine, but it was so small Action Man would have trouble getting in it. It was then that I decided I couldn’t stay in such squalid conditions and must leave immediately.
Lord only knows where I was supposed to put the contents of my three and a half ton suitcase because there were no drawers or wardrobes to put my flares, platform shoes and multi-coloured Tank Tops. I then met the lad I was to share with. He seemed a nice sort of lad, a student and we sat on the grass outside the hovel talking whilst I secretly devised my escape plan.
There seemed to be lots of people milling around and chilling in the hot weather but I just wanted out. Then as I was talking to my new friend on the grass (The shortest friendship I’ve ever had), a mad deranged women with wild grey hair came out of one of the chalets screaming, “There’s a rat, I’ve just seen a big rat”, and she was almost hysterical and obviously mad, she looked like a character from a Charles Dickens novel. At this point I thought that’s it I’ve had enough of this madness.
So I said goodbye to my new friend and headed towards Reception with my unpacked three ton suitcase. I had by this time decided what I was to say as an excuse to leave. I thought I was in some kind of prison camp so my excuse had to be a good one otherwise they might not let me leave, and I would be destined to stay there forever, well that’s what I thought at the time.
I arrived at Reception and told the man in charge that my Grandad had just died and that I must leave immediately (God forgive me). The man in charge couldn’t have been more kind and sympathetic and he promptly ordered me a taxi to take me back to the railway station.
When I was a safe distance from the camp, I rang my mum to let her know what happened. My dad had paid for my train fares which came to about £14.00, a lot of money then, and he mithered me for years afterwards to pay it back, jokingly I think, but I never did. What a waste of money and time that whole experience was. Anyway I digress, but this leads me onto how I ended up staying with a future murderer that following week, it gets worse doesn’t it.