MINEHEAD....What have they done to it ???????

Tell us about your Memories of Butlins

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MINEHEAD....What have they done to it ???????

Postby buddy » Sat Aug 07, 2010 12:44 pm

I have just returned from Minehead after a 34 year absence . The very hot summer of 1976 was the last time i was there. Firstly, ive got to say that my kids loved it, my wife loved it, but i hated it.
My memories are of a Magical place of Colour, Monorails, Chairlifts, open air Pools,etc etc. This was to be our last family holiday together as the following year i joined the Army. My Father , who took us to Minehead Died 4 years Later at the young age of 40. My sister has also passed away early, and my Mother went 3 Years ago. We were all at Minehead in 76. I had to go back and visit my Teens. The week i was there i remember NORTH HILL catching Fire during the Afternoon.(the hill above the Harbour). It burned long into the night and was a spectacular sight from the beach. Boy it was hot. The Monorail was my favorite. All day long me and Sis would spend all day on it, Much to my Parents delight. We would spend most evenings in the Penny arcades and playing Crazy Golf. The Chairlift was Great too. I remember when the wind got up and you were suspended in the middle of the Camp, just Hanging there. Oh i Loved Butlins. My Dad spent a lot of his Time Fishing in the Lake that run the length of the Camp. He used to get cross when the Paddle steamer came near-by and disturbed his Float. I cried when we had to come home and i was 15.
Today i am Horri-fied. It is just a Money-Making Machine. SELL-SELL-SELL. I found it Magic-Less, Dull, and there would be nothing there to ever bring me back. There is no sign of where the Monorail used to be. You had to imagine it crossing above your head in the "TENT". The Beachcomber Bar, Completely gone and now a field for posh people to look out of their Highrise block of flats. (blue-skies tower of terror). Absoulutly no sign of the chairlift whatsoever. I looked, but alas.
Inside the Tent, The Ol Gaeity Theatre looks like something from a travelling Fair with its flashing lights. Everything at Minehead is now sell Hard in that Tent. Even the Board-walk was all Sell.
The Splashes Pool was very in-ventive i thought. It had some great flumes, and the Master Blaster was great. My kids love it.
The Food in the Buffett was probably the best thing about the week. Every day it had a different variety, and it tasted of REAL FOOD as it did back in the 70,s. The Entertainment in the Centre Stage was Very average, However, they did put on a lovely Pantomine. Aladdin. Superb.
To sum up. I have got home and gone through the History of Minehead. Looking at all the Old photos. It has made me incredibly sad. I know times have changed. So has Butlins. It still is a Great holiday for kids but they will never know of the time i had, and the magical things Minehead used to have. Today, it is like the Seafront Amusement Arcade. Souless, Lifeless, Magic-less. I am so sad, but my Daughter did cry when we left. :(
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So very true.

Postby frank worrall » Sat Aug 07, 2010 4:11 pm

Yes you brought back memories of Butlins of old when I was young, everything you said is so true but and its a big but, would the young parents of today and their children enjoy the simpler things in life as we did (and still do) My two sons take their children out camping quite regularly and they will be joining the uniformed groups i.e. Scouts etc etc, and hopefully be taught how to enjoy themselves by doing something useful instead of sitting on their backsides watching t.v. or fighting imaginary monsters on X boxes or whatever you call the things. My elder son took his family to Centre Parks recently because they did more constructive things than Butlins, he thought, and paid a fortune for this privalige. He said hes going to stick to camping in future. We cant wait to take our grand children to Butlins as we saw recently at Butlins Bognor, as you say yourself, the children having a great time and plenty of things for them to do for a little charge. (The old days are but a memory.)
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Postby Joker » Sat Aug 07, 2010 4:28 pm

Hi Buddy

Welcome to the forum.

You are not alone with your feeling about Butlins all my childhood memories about Butlins are from the Northern camps as Mother said Minehead was to far.

I have been to all the camps now and enjoy nothing better than a good explore looking for the old Butlins. Minehead has changed but you can find evidence of the old if you look hard enough. Being a bit of an anorak helps. Without the changes I imagine all the camps would now be housing estates.

I felt the same the first time I returned with my kids. But seeing the way they enjoy today's Butlins more than makes up for my loss.

I'll let Pushbutton take over now as he is the one who has memories of old Minehead :)

Have Fun !!!

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Postby minehead forever » Sun Aug 08, 2010 9:17 am

welcome to the forum buddy,as my username suggests my main interest is in the minehead camp,i've visited yearly for just over 40 years,
everything you write about strikes a chord with me as everything you said describes my childhood visits to minehead.the camp had everything,chairlifts,monorail,golf,scenery with the lovely exmoor back drop,gaiety theatre,2 snooker halls,the list goes on and everyone of us will remember something another has forgotten,thats what makes these sites so great it keeps the memories alive in the mind.
everything was free at butlins and as kids we was never short of something to do,i don't remember having to ask my dad every few minutes for a couple of quid to do something,you mention the long summer of 76,as a kid i only have memories of sunny days at minehead,one thing i used to enjoy was when you was on the monorail and when you stopped over the outdoor pool while the train in the station loaded you always got a strong smell of chlorine and a very cold breeze from the pool it was lovely.
the butlins we remember has long gone,but as you said your child cried when you left suggests that the brand still has something,its just we don't see it anymore as all we do is compare all the time.
i'm becoming very dissalusioned with the present butlins under bournes owner ship,yes the camps look better then the later years of rank,but bourne have the knack of providing the smallest of facility and then putting a stupid price on it,£2 for a go on the jumping pillow,£1 for a go on the small kids diggers,it all adds up,and for the life of me can't understand while these small things have to be chargeable,you always leave with the impression that your getting ripped off.
if you go minehead again buddy you mention you couldn't find any evidence of the monorail or chairlift,apart from 1 or 2 concreted patches in the road between the regency building and reception were the monorail stantions were theres nothing left to see,but with the chairlift there is a little left at the back of the camp.just behind of the spar to the left the path is still there that went to the chairlift station,it stops at a mound of earth were the building stood,and the power point still still sticks out of the ground.and further east in the camp just in front of the flatlets the minature railway station is still there.
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Postby buddy » Sun Aug 08, 2010 5:31 pm

Thanks for replying to my post. Its just so sad. When i was in Minehead, i heard rumours that the Regency Building has about 3 years or less before that is pulled down too. Someone said that it was to make room for another Butlins Hotel tower of terror. I hope this isnt true.
I also remember having to stop over the outdoor pool in the Monorail. I think it was because the Driver was too early to come into the station before the other one left. I remember the kids below us would try and get us wet, and that is probably why the inside of the cars were always wet.
I always wanted to be a Butlins Monorail Driver. I did end up being a Steam Engine Driver for the Romney Hythe and Dymchurch Railway for a while though. That was another Childhood dream but that actually came true. I always tried to sit behind the driver to try and talk to him, but after a while i suppose it became a bit of a bore going round in a figure of 8 all day. I think i would have enjoyed it for a while though. And look how dangerous it looked to actually board the Monorail too. It was quite high up if you were a kid. Heath and safety would probably have a field day with it today. But it was the Best thing about Butlins. I loved the Mono-rail.
And your right about the free-dom we had as a child at Minehead. Every thing was Free. Today, or rather, last week, i remember promising my kids that after a "Free Swim" i would take them for a nice bike ride round the camp. My Daughter insisted that she go on her own, and so did my Lad. It cost me £15 for them to go around the camp for half an hour plus a deposit of £20. [as im a keen cyclist and quite fit i did follow them on foot so they wouldnt see me, just in case.] As a lad myself i used to hire a go-Kart or a bike for the whole day for virtually nothing in 76.
Then it was money for the Climbing wall, money for the Base-Jump, money for etc-etc-etc. And i just couldnt believe that the charged you for the bouncy castles either. Everything is geared up for you to pay. My Mum and Dad would give me and my sis a few pennies for an ice cream and the Arcade and that would have been it.
My Holiday cost me £1300 for the food, accomodation and entertainment plus a further £500 for the rest. [i know i could have done it cheaper but we didnt want to. We wanted a top notch holiday]. We never left the Camp all Week so Butlins had the Extra £500 out of me. They were all Sell Sell Sell and i had to Pay Pay Pay. I do feel like i have been robbed but what can i say. The Kids enjoyed it . :roll:
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Postby pushbutton » Tue Aug 10, 2010 6:18 am

I agree that after 34 years you are bound to notice that things have changed for the worse.

However I love Minehead because compared to Skegness and Bognor (the only other remaining camps that are still open as Butlins) Minehead has changed relatively little.

Yes a lot of the magic and most of the colour has gone, BUT:

- The reception building is still the same building, and in fact only this year it has been refurbished and put back in use (before that you had to check-in in the skyline)

- The carparks are still exactly the same and I doubt they've even been resurfaced in the last 34 years

- The dining hall is still the same building, but the dining arrangaements and food choice and quality have actually got much better

- Minehead is the only camp that still has a chapel, and it's the original one and has not changed since it was built.

- 3 of the main entertainment buildings (Regency, Princes, and Gaeity) are still there and within those buildings some of the things are still in their original place. The Crazy Horse is still very recognisable as the Old-Time Ballroom, Bar Rosso includes a coffee lounge and is in the same place where there has always been a coffee lounge, Finnegans Fish and Chips is in the same place Dinos used to be (has been a fast food restaurant for a long time, and there was always a Fish and Chip shop in the boardwalk), Reds is very recognisable as Barnums and is still a showbar, and Centre Stage is the Princes Ballroom and still includes a dancefloor and stage (in fact the dancefloor has been made much bigger this year compared to the recent past years). Newsbreak is the old Post office, and still sells some of the things the post office did. The indoor sports hall has changed very little and is still the indoor sports hall. The cinema foyre is still very recognisable as the old indoor roller skating rink.

- The medical centre has not changed at all inside and is very recognisable outside

- The boardwalk is still recognisable and the biggest shop is now called Spar (with an "Everydays" sign still inside it) and is the "Rothmans" walkround shop, and still sells the same things as the Rothmans walkround shop did, near enough.

- The Everydays at the rear of the camp is still the same, although sadly was renamed "Spar" this year.

- The indoor funfair is still there in the same building.

- The Gaeity Green hasn't really changed except they've cut down the hedges that used to surround it.

- The "new" outdoor kids paddling pool used to be the kiddies yacht pond and hasnt really changed much. The tables around it are the same ones that were around the old funpool.

- Splash is the same building that used to be Oasis and has just been extended and improved (although you may not remember Oasis as it wasn't there 34 years ago, it's a bit more recent)

- The nursery is still where it always was, as is the accommodation enquiries office in the same building

- The Laundrette is still exactly as it always was

- Nearly all chalets are still there, except a few rows which were demolished and replaced with 3 storey flatlets in the mid 80s.

- The Coasta Coffee bar at the front of the dining hall was previously called Sir Billys Bar (and if you go in the phone boxes near it they still say they are outside Sir Billys)

- The Sun & Moon pub is the Exmoor bar

- The Swinging Shellelagh is the Embassy bar

- The Highwayman pub is still the same

- One of the platforms from the old miniature railway is still there

- There IS still evidence of the rear chairlift station if you look closely. The path leading to it is still there as is the power supply to it.

- The old Sunsplash pool is still there and unchanged complete with all fixtures and fittings except the waterslides, just not open.

- If you look around the back of the camp you'll see some of the chalets have not been refurbished since the early 80s

- The water skiing lake is still the same except not used for water skiing anymore.

- The front boating lake is much smaller admittedly, but is still used for boating (albeit powered bumper boats now)

- There's still donkeys on the Gaiety Green (which by the way staff still call the Gaeity Green)

These are the most obvious things that haven't changed too much, but if you look closer there's lots of smaller, less obvious things at Butlins Minehead that have changed even less. I'll leave it to you to explore next time you go and find those! There's lots of helpful staff who will happily show you where things used to be too if you ask nicely.

- Basically the entire layout of the camp hasn't changed too much! Sadly at Skeggy and Bognor that's not the case. However I do agree that there's far too many things you have to pay extra for these days and I think that's a real shame.

On the other hand Butlins must do whatever they need to do to stay profitable, otherwise as Joker said they wouldn't even have the 3 camps they have now.

Butlins Minehead is STILL the best place in the world, to me.[/list]
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