Hayling Island at centre of holiday camps’ heyday

Beachlands and the bus station, Hayling Island
Beachlands and the bus station, Hayling Island
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Holiday camps, hotels and day trips – these four pictures show the allure of Hayling Island in the first half of the last century.

The island, being among the sunniest places in Britain, has always attracted holidaymakers – one reason why a plethora of holiday camps sprang up there from the 1930s.

Coronation Holiday Village, Hayling Island

Coronation Holiday Village, Hayling Island

Both the Sunshine and Coronation camps were firm favourites when Britain went camp crazy after the Second World War, a passion which lasted until the mid-1970s.

But before then splendid hotels such as the Royal (seen here probably in the early years of the 20th century) had long been favourite watering holes.

Hayling was discovered by the masses in the 1930s, when the popularity of the car made travelling more convenient.

As the island grew in popularity as a holiday destination, the attractions of safe sandy beaches and good sunshine records were joined by frequent travelling country fairs held at Beachlands.

When the site was bought by Billy Butlin in 1924, these fairs started to become permanent attractions and the forerunner to the modern fairground that sits on the same site today.

One of the biggest attractions of this early fairground was Monkey Island. Set amid a small boating lake, Monkey Island was a rocky outcrop inhabited by live monkeys.

As well as being a place of fun, Beachlands also had a more serious role. Taken over by the Royal Navy in 1939, it was a barracks for the armed forces during the Second World War.

· These pictures come from the collection of Paul Costen, the Waterlooville photographer and collector at costen.co.uk.