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Point 5 - Tourism and Butlins
Butlins is a name that has become synonymous with Skegness. Why? Well simply Skegness can be called the birth place of Butlins as it was near Skegness that Billy Butlin built his first holiday camp.
As you carry on along North Parade which continues into Grand Parade look around at the arcades and amusements. Imagine you are one of those first visitors to try out the new Butlins holiday camp and spending the day in Skegness.
A seal pup
The first site sat on 200 acres of a former turnip field, with construction work starting in September 1935. Billy Butlin was hands on with the design and although there were many setbacks, including almost running out of funds, Butlins opened its doors for visitors on the 11th April 1936.
It was an immediate success. Here was a self contained holiday experience that provided you with three meals a day and free entertainment all for 35 shillings a week (£1.75). The capacity soon grew from 500 spaces to 1200.
During the war years Butlins was taken over by the Royal Navy and became a training barracks given the name HMS Royal Arthur. Whilst the Navy occupied the resort German planes dropped a total of 52 bombs on it.
After the war Butlins re-opened as a holiday resort on the 11th May 1946.
The Beatles Connection
In 1962 it was at Butlins in Skegness where Ringo Starr received the phone call from a certain John Lennon to poach him from his then band ‘Rory Storm and the Hurricanes’ to join a new band he’d started with Paul McCartney called ‘The Beatles’.
During that summer John Lennon and Paul McCartney had met Ringo as he started his first summer season at the Skegness Butlins.
Butlins is situated three miles north of Skegness and is still a popular holiday destination. Many caravan parks and guest houses can be found in the heart of Skegness and the surrounding area as this East coast town proves to be as popular as ever with the modern holiday maker.
As you walk past the arcades think about how much has changed, or has it? If you take away the flashing lights and laser sounds listen for the sounds of those penny slot machines and instead of seeing the buttons to press imagine the handles being pulled as your luck is tested.
One of the places you will pass by is one of the central points of entertainment for Skegness - The Embassy Theatre. Built in 1982 it regularly attracts the big names and draws crowds from not just Skegness but the surrounding towns and city.
Cross over the road (safely at the crossing as this is a busy street for cars and buses) and journey back in time to the beginning of tourism in Skegness. Go through the main gates of Tower Gardens. Just before you enter on your left you will find Skegness Tourist Information with more information about the town, East Coast attractions and history.
last updated: 16/05/2008 at 17:18