Sir Billy Butlin is, without any doubt, one of the very best to walk mother Earth. His ability to create a business that made so many people smile is a gift to us all. There are a lot of people that would love to say thank you to him for all he has done as his legacy continues today. Born in cape town in 1899, Billy Butlin and his brother Harry John (Binkie) were raised by their parents William Colborne Butlin and his mother, Bertha Cassandra Hill. The Butlin family was very supportive of each another and would work hard to put food on the table.
Unfortunately, bad news had arrived for Billy and Harry when their parent's marriage had failed. Bertha had returned to England with her two sons and they lived in Coaley. It was in 1907 that Sir Billy had to deal with a large change in his family as Harry passes away from polio. This devastating news impacted the family greatly. Wanting a change, Bertha falls in love and remarries to help support her family better. Emigrating to Canada, Bertha moves to leave Billy in the care of his two aunties. This was not an easy decision however, Billy would have a better life in England whilst she settles down in Canada and tries to get things ready for Billy.
Moving to Canada, Sir Billy was not very happy and found it hard to settle in. Being a strong person, he never gave up and got a job working in Eaton, Toronto's largest department store. This was the turning point for Sir Billy as he would go to summer camp, helping him see what holidays were all about, a legend had started. Continuing to show strength, Sir Billy would join the army to help with the war.
(Additional note: You can view the Butlin timeline here)
When the war was finished, Sir Billy moved back to England on a cattle ship with a vision and a goal to achieve. An extremely important time was recorded as Sir Billy would open a hoopla stall in Bridgwater. As a strong businessman, he would allow his customers to have a higher rate of winning a prize. Many of his fellow stallholders would often say "You will be out of business soon Bill, everyone keeps on winning and you will be out of pocket" However, Sir Billy explained that his stall had many more customers and from this, he earnt much more profit. Small profits now with long-term achievements.
Sir Billy Butlin idea worked well as he made it a success and expanded. History shows that Sir Billy would only go uphill from here as he opens up zoos and fairgrounds. From one stall in Bridgwater, we see the birth of a name that so many people know of today.
Becoming an amazing figure, we fast forward to the future to the year 1936 and the first Butlins Holiday Camp was opened in Skegness. This is an important time for Sir Billy Butlin as this was a make-or-break situation. The creation of the Redcoats was born and the memories had started...The legacy of Sir Billy Butlin. Opening ten camps and thirteen hotels (down to twelve in 1942), Sir Billy Butlin would support the war, give millions to charity and create so many new memories.
It was on 12 June 1980 that a sad day had arrived, "Sir Billy Butlin passes away. The camps and hotels remained in place as the founder was laid to rest. As we continue into the future, we see that more bad news was to arrive as Filey, Clacton, Mosney and Barry Island were to close. The reason for these was closure was due to the competition going abroad had deeply affected the number of people who went on holiday in the United Kingdom. It was in the late 1980's that we another transformation to the company name as only five resorts remain to represent Sir Billy Butlin's. They are AYR, Pwllheli, Bognor Regis, Minehead and of course Skegness. Lets also not forget the hotels as they remained under the name Butlins
The Rank group invested a great deal of money to upgrade the sites to the new demand and it worked well. Extending the Butlin's name, those from this era witnessed a birth on a new site, Butlins Hotel - London. Back on top, Butlins would host dance competitions, darts and even the Radio one roadshow. However, there was a need to keep up with the demands and a big change had arrived at Butlins in the year 1999. The Pavilions were introduced to three locations, Minehead, Skegness and Bognor Regis. Butlins was also to be now known as resorts and no longer holiday camps. Pwllheli and AYR were transferred to the sister company, Haven, where they remain today and the hotels closed down.
With changes in the business world, the Rank group said goodbye to Butlin's in the year 2000 when the current owner's Bourne Leisure Limited purchased the locations and name. Here are details of how Bourne has invested and kept Butlins going well. In 2020, it was announced that Butlin's, Haven and Warner Hotels were going to have another part-owner, Blackstone. They have purchased a large share of the company and I can only see positive outcomes from this new development.