With Spain out of bounds again, hopes are rising for a new lease of life in England’s careworn seaside resorts – and nowhere more so than in the birthplace of Butlin’s
Early on Friday morning, with the sun already promising the hottest day of the year, an age-old British ritual was taking place in the car park beside the pier in Skegness. “Stand there, son,” the dad in the car next to mine was saying to his boy as they unpacked beach chairs and slapped on sunscreen. “Close your eyes, and breathe that in!” And his son, six years old, dutifully took in his summer’s first lungful of British seaside – his smile widening as that mix of sea salt, fish and chips, candyfloss and generator diesel hit him, the skirl of seagulls and Wurlitzers in the air. Who could resist?
Friday was one of those mornings when, from the pier – with the new morning’s golden sand stretching away in both directions and the first arrivals bashing in the poles of wind breaks – you could see Skegness as 30-year-old Billy Butlin must have seen it when he took the train to the sleepy Victorian resort in 1927. Butlin, who had a travelling fair, took one look at Skegness and decided he had finally found his promised land.