Butlins at Barry Island

3 February 2021 ·

Butlins 1966

The inspiration for a holiday camp on Barry Island came from a holiday memory, where as a child Billy Butlin had been locked out of his B&B all day. He decided to build his last holiday camp at Nells Point. Planning permission was granted in 1965 and work began in the winter. The camp opened on 18th June 1966.

Barry Island Butlins had all the usual Butlins activities including the Redcoats, funfair, Radio Butlin, dining halls, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a boating lake, tennis courts , amusements, theatre, restaurants and bars and the ballroom. The chairlift opened in 1967.

There were eight hundred very basic 1960’s chalets that consisted of wooden panels and flat roofs.

Barry Island Butlins was incredibly popular until the 1980s. Billy Butlin announced on 29th October 1986 that the camp would be closing after the Christmas period. The camp closed on 31st December 1986.

Majestic Holidays bought the camp and reopened on 23rd May 1987. It was now called Majestic Barry Island. Majestic holidays had the intentions of demolishing the camp and rebuilding but this did not happen. Instead the camp was given a complete refurbishment including the swimming pools. The Redcoats remained at Majestic’s until 1889, then becoming known as the Bluecoats in 1991 after Butlins threatened legal action over the use of the name.

The chalets had become a big issue by now though, with maintenance needed for the flat roofs and wooden panelling. This was even written as a clause into the booking conditions, limiting action to 20% of the cost of the holiday. There were many complaints, and the BBC programme That’s Life! investigated the camp. The programme aired in January 1989, and the report said: “Its Barry Awful, Its Barry hell”. The presenter stated at the end of the programme, that if anyone was holidaying at Barry Island, to send them a postcard. By the end of the summer 1989, That’s Life! had received eight thousand postcards all praising the camp and only forty cards with a complaint. Majestic Holidays owner Rick Wright, sued and received £500,000 damages.

In 1996, there were more maintenance problems following storm damage, and the Vale of Glamorgan Council threatened to refuse granting an entertainments licence unless remedial work was undertaken on the camp. The camp continued to trade throughout the summer, but closed it’s gates for good on 7th November 1996.

The camp was demolished and a housing estate and carpark is now on the site.

In category:Barry Island
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