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Within the last two to three years the former Butlin's Camp at Filey, North Yorkshire has been completely cleared from the landscape. The outdoor swimming pool being the only evidence left of the once thriving holiday centre. In 1983 Butlin’s decided to close and sell the camp. The new owners never made the camp a success and it was left abandoned for the best part of a decade. Aborted attempts at demolition and years of exposure to the elements left the site spattered in huge piles of rubble, rotten wood and decaying chalets.

Thanks to a £43,900 grant from the Heritage lottery Fund in 2005, former holidaymakers and staff, day-trippers, historians and volunteers had the opportunity to remember and celebrate the Butlin’s Camp, Filey, before it was forgotten forever. The site may have disappeared but the memories will live on as a valuable part of our history, culture and heritage.

This project covered the camp’s history from its opening in 1939 to its final closure in 1983 and involved recording memories, experiences and tales on audio and videotape. We also had contact with contributors via the Internet and email.

The final project resulted in a large exhibition that explored and celebrated the history and rich heritage of the Butlin’s Camp. Alongside the exhibition there was the creation of a book of memories, illustrations and photographs with an accompanying DVD of interviews, cine footage, an additional primary school documentary and a photographic stills gallery.

The final exhibition was held in Bridlington from 9th May – 12th May, as part of the 2006 Arts Festival. Running parallel with the ‘Remember Filey Butlins’ exhibition there was a weeklong community radio broadcast, hosted by Seaside Radio and presented by project volunteers, which allowed the local community the opportunity to hear the pre-recorded Butlin’s Filey interviews, holiday camp chat and music.

Times have changed; today’s holidays are very different from the traditional ‘Hi-De-Hi’ British holiday camp. This project revealed the post-war magic of the Yorkshire holiday camp, the communities it created and the jobs it supplied. It was also a chance to hear from the families, who year after year, traveled to the camp from the towns and the cities and the locals whose lives were indelibly changed throughout the summer months. We heard about the laughs and the tears, the swimming and the rides, the dancing and the entertainment, the food and the weather! We also heard from the couples who met there and later married and the children who are now adults.

The ‘Remember Filey Butlins Project’ put much emphasis on individual and group inclusion and participation. It was a project for the people, by the people of the East Riding of Yorkshire. The project was a platform for collecting the past and the information gathered is now a permanent archive held as a research and educational resource at Bridlington Central Library. The archive reveals how special and important the camp was for the East Coast. As much as anything else, the project was a forum for staff and holidaymakers alike to reconnect after many years apart whom reminisced and shared their memories.

This valuable archive of 20th Century history is available for all, but would hold particular appeal for schools and colleges, research students and people who are specifically interested in local history and the Butlin’s organisation. The archive contains 30 pre-recorded audio and DV interviews with holidaymakers, staff and local people. 200 digital images held on disc spanning from the 1930’s to the present day and over 200 hard copy photographs bound in three directories. The archive also contains stories, memories, emails and interview transcriptions, newspaper and magazine articles, official Butlin’s publicity material, and the project books in PDF format. In addition, cine film has been transferred onto DVD/QuickTime and Butlin’s songs archived on audio CD.

We would like to thank everyone who contributed memories, photographs, illustrations and stories to the ‘Remember Filey Butlins’ Oral History Project and would particularly like to thank our project volunteers.




Disclaimer - This site is dedicated to preserving the memories and heritage of the Filey Butlins camp. It has no connection whatsoever with Butlins, Bourne Leisure or any associated companies, nor has it been endorsed by them.

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copyright images - Sarah Daniels