Friday, September 24, 2021

Postcard: "Redcoat operating Radio Butlin"

I had no idea what I was going to discover when I started researching this vintage postcard. What is that contraption? The front of the postcard states BUTLIN'S and "Redcoat operating Radio Butlin." On the back of the unused card, it states:
  • GV. 11 Butlin's Holiday Camp.
  • Redcoat Operating Radio Butlin.
  • This is a real Butlin's Photograph

So, for starters, it's a British Thing. Which is partially why this didn't ring any bells (no pun intended).

According to Wikipedia, Butlin's is a chain of seaside resorts in the United Kingdom that dates to the 1930s. While the chain struggled in the face of competition in the 1980s and 1990s, it has adjusted to the times and is still going strong today, with resorts called Bognor Regis, Minehead and Skegness. "Butlin's runs a variety of 'family fun activities' and entertainments, many of which are included in the price of a holiday. Redcoats (Butlins frontline staff) provide entertainment, organise activities, and act as hosts," Wikipedia states.

The Redcoats are the Butlin's staffers who keep everything fun and cheerful for vacationing families, and they date to the beginning, too.

Radio Butlin, meanwhile, was kind of the space-age communications center for the holiday resorts. Here's an excerpt from
"The now joked about 'dreaded' Tannoy system which covered the Butlin's camps was started in 1946. The camp radio station was often described as the nerve centre of the camp and it couldn't have had a more apt description. ...

"The day would start at 7.30am with the 'wakey' announcement which would be a gentle tune, the longest running tune being 'singing piano' by Tolchard Evans. Halfway through, the record would be faded out and the announcer would inform the campers that it was 7.30am and that the first sitting for breakfast would be at 8.15am with the second sitting at 9.15am. The service was broadcast to the campers 7 days a week until 6pm.

"A typical daily broadcast would include music, advertisements, jingles, and requests from the campers, the days events and general news items. Radio Butlin lasted until the end of the 1974 season when its only use from then on was for emergency broadcasts. ... During its life Radio Butlin was regarded more as a service than a nuisance and although people now look back with humour, at the time it served its purpose, it blended in with what the holiday maker wanted."
You can also read a little more about Radio Butlin at As one might imagine, so many UK families have vacationed at Butlin's over the decades that there are a lot of fond memories floating around on the internet, even for something so relatively obscure as Radio Butlin. 

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