This film is part of Free


Anglia TV reporter, Paul Barnes revisits the busy Butlins holiday camp at Skegness where he once worked as a Redcoat.

News 1979 10 mins

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Logo for East Anglian Film Archive


The role of the Redcoat was created by Billy Butlin when the first guests at Skegness were not engaging with his ideas for the holiday camp. He recruited Norman Bradford, who was employed on site construction, to entertain the holidaymakers with jokes and to develop the well-known Butlins atmosphere. Over the years, the Redcoats’ jackets have been styled by well-known designers including Jeff Banks and Zandra Rhodes, but are always red to be easily seen and friendly.

In 1936, the Butlins holiday camp at Skegness was the very first of Billy (later, Sir William) Butlin’s camps to be built, offering accommodation for 1,000 guests in 600 chalets with electricity and hot and cold running water. The camp also offered a theatre, a gym, a swimming pool and a boating lake and was officially opened by aviator, Amy Johnson. With the outbreak of hostilities in September 1939, holidaymakers were sent home and the camp was taken over by the Royal Navy, becoming training establishment ‘HMS Royal Arthur’. The camp reopened to post-war holidaymakers in May 1946 following minor bomb damage repair work.