Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Carry On Camping

It’s time to talk about some of those early campsites (mostly restricted to ‘Business Men Only’ for reasons best left to the personal preferences of the proprietors) that sprang up along the Fylde Coast between the wars.
These ‘pleasure palaces’ (and obviously we’re using the phrase ironically here), such as ‘Wilkinson’s Beach Camp of Cleveleys’ occupying the field next to Jubilee Gardens where the leisure centre stands nowadays, generally consisted of row upon row of ex-army bell tents with a solitary large wooden hut making do as the mess hall and kitchen. In fact, all matters considered, the resemblance between such ‘Exclusive Holiday Attractions’ and the former boot camps, was uncanny, but they seemed to appeal to a certain class of tourist and eventually led to such national institutions as Butlins (or ‘Butlitz’ as we used to call it at school for obvious reasons) being established.

Or rather, let’s not talk about them.

Let’s have a look at some photographs instead. First up, a typical camp scene at Little Bispham. Don’t ask us whereabouts exactly because we don’t honestly know and, to put it frankly, can’t be bothered finding out. Wherever it was, you can bet your life that there’s a housing estate built on the site nowadays. Oh, by the way, we’ve been colouring these things in again…well, it’s been a slow week.

There’s actually more to this tranquil scene of holiday bliss than perhaps at first meets the eye (although the chances are you won’t be able to tell at the size that this photograph’s been reproduced unless you click on the thumbnail to enlarge it). Take a closer look, however (preferably with a magnifying glass), and you might be able to determine a policeman making enquiries in the bottom right hand corner, whilst a naked person (gender unknown at this distance) takes a casual stroll amongst the tents.
Whether the two are connected, or not, we wouldn’t like to speculate.

Let’s have another photograph, this time demonstrating the elaborate hedonistic feasts that made these campsites such desirable places to stay.

These lucky campers are set up for the weekend because, unusually, they’ve brought their fillies with them. The female tourists around Blackpool back in those days weren’t as slack or available as they are now, of course, the reason for the baker in the middle of the group being that it was considered improper to cook on the first date. (Tasteless Jokes Inc. Copyright © 2008.)
Next up, we’re back to the aforementioned Wilkinson’s of Cleveleys (at least we reckon it is, that building in the background on the right -- the roof of which you might just about be able to see -- looks like Jubilee Gardens’ cafe to us).

Ragtimers, putting the ‘camp’ back into camping, from right to left: Pew, Pew, Barneymacgrew, Cuthbert, Dribble, Crud, Bob Monkhouse, Lionel Blair, Hugh Laurie and Graham Norton by the looks of things. What a gay old time was had by all…with the possible exception of the bloke five in from the right who appears to be doing an impression of Lurch from the Addams’ family and wearing the sort of expression that says: “Why did I pay out three shillings for this rubbish? I wonder if there’s a cheap B. & B. down Victoria Road.” (“No, matron! Take them away!”)
Finally, we’re absolutely almost positively certain that this is Wilkinson’s again. We’d even go so far as to claim that the bloke on the far left who looks a bit like Ben Turpin in a beret is Mr Wilkinson himself. Probably…


RVB said...

Wherever it was, you can bet your life that there’s a housing estate built on the site nowadays.

Call me ignorant, but I hear many a POM ramble on about the abysmal crime in such places. Australia has them too... but they're well-distributed and not clumped together. Are you POMS just whining or is there room for genuine concern?

These lucky campers are set up for the weekend because, unusually, they’ve brought their fillies with them.

Filly, in Australian colloquial nonsense, means cream-cheese from the Kraft - an awful brand.

Good job on the researching, Brian.

Brian Hughes said...


I think you might be getting confused between housing estates and council estates. Unfortunately the crime rates on council estates can be quite high, mainly being drug related.

The government's now trying to phase such places out by encouraging the Housing Association to buy up individual properties in otherwise quiet areas and fill them with excomminucated council estaters. Unfortunately, rather than rehabilitating the council estaters into a more sociable environment, the effect is similar to introducing a virulent germ into a healthy body.

The government doesn't realise this, of course, because there are no Housing Association bought properties along the millionaire's row where they all live.

As for a filly being a cream-cheese, so long as they're accompanied by a right little cracker, it probably amounts to much the same thing.

p.s. I should point out that it's only the minority of Council Estaters and Housing Association refugees that are a massive pain in the rear...but even one cancerous cell is more than anybody wants.

John said...

Leave Hugh Laurie alone, already.

JOHN :0)

Brian Hughes said...


You've got to admit, the resemblance is uncanny.

Jayne said...

That nudist,in the top picture, looks suspiciously like Stephen Fry from this angle...

Andrew said...

No one in 50s/60s Australia would have worn pink pants and pale blue shoes. What an exotic country England must have been.

Reuben, I would say filly was either a young lass or a female horse.

Wonder how Jayne would know what S. Fry looked like naked, from any angle.

Brian Hughes said...


Unfortunately no matter from which angle you look at Stephen Fry, he still resembles a bare rump...albeit a bare rump with a crooked nose.


I doubt that anyone in Blighty would have ever worn pink trousers with pale blue shoes either...with the possible exception of Noel Coward or Trinny and Suzanah...but having no colour frame of reference I thought I'd just go for 'cheerful'. I was even tempted to colour their faces green for a short while.

RVB said...

I live next door to council estate excommunicates. Not half pleasant I can tell you.

Still, I think that conglomerating council housing in one huge suburb is poor planning at best, and at worst - 'ghetto making'.
Don't you POMS call such people 'scousers' or 'bingalongs' or something?

Brian Hughes said...


Scousers are Liverpudlians. They don't mind us calling them scousers, 'cos they call the rest of woolybacks.
Bingalongs...I've no idea what one of those is. Some evil off-spring of Max Bygraves or something.

I really feel I ought to stress here that I've known (and still do know) many a fine and decent council estate dweller.

However, you're was a bad idea segregating people into sink estates because of their class all those decades ago...and now it's an even worse one trying to put them back.

Or, to be more precise, it's a dreadful idea putting one particular skanky foul-mouthed old sow with her hideous caterwaling child into the house over the street from me. If only shotguns were legal...

Jayne said...

I can but dream and use my imagination, Andrew :P

Brian Hughes said...


Not sure about a dream...more like a nightmare if you ask me.

RVB said...

I was told by one British friend of ours that the lords own a lot of land...which causes an array of problems, including the ones specified.
If I may arrogantly quote from my own TV show, the lords have "enough nasal hair to construct a particularly promiscuous wig".

Brian Hughes said...


You're quite right, the aristocracy still own the largest percentage of land in Britain.

However, in recent years (and I really do mean recent...within the last half-decade to be more specific) new laws have been introduced that require said land to be opened up for public access for at least eleven months a year.

No doubt this comes as a poke in the hairy nostrils of the aristocracy, but it's excellent news for ramblers and archaeologists.

Jayne said...

Beauty is in the eye of the beer-holder, Brian :P
Yes, had heard of Madame Madonna trying to block those frightful ramblers accessing the right of way that dared cross her land.

Brian Hughes said...

Footballers and pop stars...the new aristocracy with all the manners, attitude, sense and diseases of the old lot.

Jayne said...

Not quite as in-bred as the old lot...but they're working on that ;)

Brian Hughes said...

Genetically mongrel, perhaps, Jayne, but nepotism is the new word for 'business partnership' these days, it seems. Either way, there's only so much money in the world, and they've got far too much of it to be healthy.

Anonymous said...

camp picture is Victoria Road, Cleveleys not Little Bispham. Photo taken from Tesco car park looking West