Penguin Books, Aer Lingus and Butlins – what do they all have in common?
Well, they are all celebrating their 75th anniversaries this year.
While Penguin were founding their book publishing empire and Aer Lingus learning to fly, a certain Billy Butlin was building the first-ever Butlins holiday camp in Skegness.
This young entrepreneur had already dabbled in the amusement park industry so used his experience to create a new type of holiday for British families – and Butlins was born.
Nowadays there are only three of the original camps remaining – Skegness, Bognor Regis and Minehead.
All have undergone massive transformations over the years, but glimpses of the glory days are still visible in today’s ever-changing world.
The famous Redcoats’ uniform is very similar to the original design – and the Redcoats take you back in time with their fantastic 75th Anniversary show looking at Butlins through the decades.
We joined in the celebrations staying for a four-night break at Butlins Minehead where most of the original buildings remain, including almost all original chalets.
As such, Minehead is now the last remaining Butlins camp that is still largely as Sir Billy designed it.
However, millions of pounds have been invested to bring all the accommodation and facilities up-to-date.
So the days of freezing cold outdoor pools and walking miles to a toilet block are long gone.
Being regular Butlins visitors, we opted this time for a gold self-catering two-bedroom apartment with the added option of a breakfast and dinner package.
This combination was perfect for our family – I could prepare our baby’s food and milk in our more than adequate kitchen and then wander along to the self-service Yacht Club restaurant for our meals.
There is an enormous choice of food available in the restaurant, from daily roasts to salads, and you can help yourself to as much as you like including a wide choice for younger diners and free baby food.
Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t great during our stay so we didn’t set foot on Minehead’s glorious sandy beach, only a short stroll away.
But inclement weather is no problem at Butlins as the imposing Skyline Pavilion is packed full of activities and shows to keep everyone happy.
The rain may have been bucketing it down outside but we were in the warm and dry being entertained by Bob the Builder, Thomas the Tank Engine and our daughter’s favourite characters, the Skyline Gang.
Even a 20-minute wait in a queue to have her picture taken with Rainbow the dog didn’t dampen spirits.
If you really don’t mind getting wet, then the Splash Waterworld is great fun to visit with rapids, flumes and bubble pools to dip your toe into.
Once the rain clouds had passed we headed out to the funfair where you can drive a dodgem ride, the carousel or feel sick on the waltzers.
For the younger guests, Bob the Builder has his very own yard full of gentler rides.
And there’s a large on-site nursery which has craft and messy play sessions every day.
Apart from the typically British weather, the only other thing which could have spoilt our holiday was that the end of the week came too fast.
But we will definitely be booking again next year as there’s still so much that we didn’t find time to do.
Butlins Minehead is located on the seafront just half a mile from the town centre.
If you’re travelling by train, the nearest main line station to Minehead is Taunton.
A bus transfer service is operated by Southern National between Taunton station and Minehead.
This service is available at an additional cost.
For those driving to Butlins, the resort contains free parking.
New arrivals are welcome to use all facilities from noon.
Prices at Butlins Minehead start from £50 per person.
That is a break based on four people sharing a Silver self-catering apartment on selected Autumn breaks.
To book a Butlins break call 0845 070 4730 or visit www.butlins.com
The maximum call charge is 2p per minute from a BT landline.
Calls from other networks may vary.