Dec 5 2011: A Week at Pontin’s (from Souvenir Programme of Broadreeds, Selsey-on-Sea, 1967)

I’m not sure if Pontin’s were the low-rent version or very much the equal of the better known Butlin’s holiday camps in the heirarchy of British seaside packages through the early post-war era, but this brochure – from Pontin’s Selsey-on-Sea outpost in 1967 – acts as a sort of time capsule of the culture Fred Pontin himself catered for in his heyday, which was (at the time this programme was published) just starting to come to its end, as overseas destinations in Spain and Greece were becoming increasingly affordable to a mass market. With its bulging catalogues of activities – from ‘elegant grandmother’ parades to ‘young model’ competitions sponsored by Max Factor, Donkey Derby races to Gala ballroom dancing nights – scheduling every waking moment from Saturday arrival to Friday departure with what can only be described as a relentlessly unyielding, almost punitive commitment to family fun – this was recreation for a generation of British working class people who’d come of age with National Service and whose powerful sense of community was rooted, at times, in a stultifying pressure to conform.


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