The Nation's Host: Butlin's and the Story of the British Seaside

The Nation's Host: Butlin's and the Story of the British Seaside

To mark Butlin's 80th anniversary this year, Butlin's has released a gorgeous new coffee table book, The Nation's Host: Butlin's and the Story of the British Seaside , which shows how the resort has helped shaped British seaside history over the years.

Seaside historian, and author of 'The Nation's Host: Butlin's and the Story of the British Seaside', Kathryn Ferry said : 'Being one of the nation's best-loved resorts, Butlin's has a long and fascinating history, but many people are likely unaware of some of the lesser known facts about Butlin's. When compiling the book, I discovered a wealth of interesting facts about Butlin's, gleaned from my extensive research of Butlin's archives.'

To highlight some of the weird and wonderful things that have occurred at Butlin's since its inception in 1936, we've compiled a list of interesting facts about Butlin's.

16 Things you didn't know about Butlin's

1. Before Butlin's the only way hard-working families could take a break to the seaside was to visit a seaside boarding house, full of rules and regulations and not at all welcoming to children. The landlady would lock families out after breakfast, and they would not be allowed to return until lunch despite the weather.

2. During a wet holiday to Wales, Billy had an inspired idea, reminiscing about his childhood in Canada and his summers spent at the camps on Lake Ontario. He said to himself 'one day I'll build a camp like that here', that day was the 11th April 1936.

3. The first ever Butlin's guest was a lady named Freda Monk, in her excitement she arrived at Butlin's Skegness a day early, only to find the camp not yet open. In true Butlin's style, Billy opened the gates and welcomed her in.

4. Billy Butlin had a pioneering spirit: he bought Dodgems to the UK in the 1920s, by 1938 Butlin's boasted the largest heated open-air pool in the country. In May 1965 Billy opened the first commercial monorail system in the UK at the Butlin's resort Skegness.

5. The first Butlin's chalets created in the 1930s cost £10 and were meant to create the sense of a mini-home-from-home

6. Billy Butlin was a pioneering rail preservationist and the Butlin's Pwllheli resort featured a decommissioned steam train, The Princess Margaret Rose.

7. Many stars over the years have cut their teeth at Butlin's including Stephen Mulhern Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, Annie Lennox, Des O'Connor, Jimmy Tarbuck, Sir Cliff Richard, Benny Hill, and Darren Day. Catherine Zeta Jones also visited Butlin's resort and won a competition during her stay.

8. The famous Redcoats, whose primary role is still to ensure that visitors have the greatest holiday of their lives at Butlin's, were introduced in 1936, so that they could be easily seen by visitors. The job description was distilled into three words: Friend, Philosopher, Guide.

9. The first Redcoat was Norman Bradford who at the time was working as the senior engineer at Skegness.

10. The Redcoat uniform has been reinvented eight times over the years.

11. During the wartime years (1939-1945), soldiers from The Royal Navy were housed at the Butlin's Pwllheli resort, including Prince Philip who had stayed there during the war. In 1963 Prince Philip returned with The Queen to tour the camp.

12. By the late 1950s, Billy Butlin begin to build 'human aquariums' - indoor pools with plate-glass side windows to give underwater views to turn the swimmers into a novel attraction

13. In 1955 Butlin's launched Butlin's Motor Cycle and Car Club, which offered members assistance from patrolmen who would scout the main roads leading to resorts on arrival and departure days and were equipped to give directions and assist guests with emergency breakdowns

14. In 1958, 10,000 couples flocked to Butlin's Honeymoon Hotels, with each couple receiving a Smith's Alarm Clock as a wedding gift during their stay

15. Butlin's ran the revolving restaurant at the top of the BT Tower from 1966-1980.

16. Butlin's slogan 'Our True Intent is All for Your Delight', was beloved by Billy Butlin, who was inspired by the phrase when he saw it on the side of a musical organ. It is also a quote from Shakespeare's play ' A Midsummer Night's Dream'.