To commemorate its 80th anniversary, Butlin’s has created a gorgeous coffee table book, The Nation’s Host: Butlin’s and the Story of the British Seaside, which showcases many never-before-seen images from Butlin's archives.
Butlin’s developed the book in collaboration with The History of Advertising Trust (HAT), the largest archive of British advertising and marketing communications in the world, and acclaimed seaside historian Katherine Ferry, who was granted unique access to the archives to tell the incredible inside story of Butlin's and the British seaside.
The book reveals the tale of the brand's origins in a British society still reeling from the economic downturn of the 1920s, to its heyday in the mid-twentieth century, and the challenges posed by the arrival of overseas package holidays to the company’s plan for reinvention in the present day.
Since its inception in 1936, Butlin's resorts were seen as aspirational, yet within reach of the average person - in other words, affordable but not cheap. Billy Butlin, the founder of Butlin's resorts, was a true entrepreneur who helped revolutionise the travel industry by making travel accessible for all, offering a week's holiday for a week's wages.
Butlin's has long been renowned for it wealth of activities under one roof - perfect for the unpredictable British weather - and visitors could take advantage of all activities on offer - at no additional charge. From an amusement park to fitness classes, dancing, waterskiing, and much more, there really was something for everyone to enjoy. In addition to these activities, Butlin's also offered performances from top singers and musicians, with many stars cutting their teeth at Butlin's such as Paul McCartney, Cliff Richard, Ringo Starr, and Annie Lennox, to name a few.
During the wartime years (1939-1945), Butlin's resorts were transformed from holiday bungalows into housing for soldiers from The Royal Navy. After the war, Butlin's welcomed back tourists, which was made easier thanks to easier access from new railways that had been built. For people who had become accustomed to queuing for rations, the promise of no queues at Butlin's was an enticing one.
By the late 1950s, a prosperous era returned and Butlin's had come to symbolise the affluence of the working class, with people being able to enjoy leisure pursuits once again. By 1963, Butlin's had welcomed 1 million visitors in one season - a long-held dream for Billy Butlin.
Today, Butlin's continues to delight its guests with a variety of activities to keep the whole family entertained. If you're a history lover, a seaside lover or simply a fan of Butlin's resorts, then this is a must-read book.
The Nation's Host: Butlin's and the Story of the British Seaside is available from Butlin's store for £20.
One of the greatest luxuries of all is having the time to relax with a great book.