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Chris Chapman's Untold Story

Chris Chapman's Untold Story

I first went to Butlins, Clacton in 1949 and then almost every year throughout the fifties and early sixties. To say that I grew up in the Butlins culture and love the brand, especially the entertainment, would be an understatement! This led me to the obvious next step of applying to become a Redcoat. I achieved this in late 1967 and spent that winter working at the Cliftonville and Ocean Hotels. It was during this time that I met and worked for Rocky Mason and got my first taste of his style and personality. Rocky was the entertainment manager at the Ocean Hotel in Saltdean, Brighton, during the winter months. As well as being a good manager of his own department and staff, he had a special way of dealing with all the hotel staff. Including other department managers.

Chris Chapmans Story

In March 1969 I was appointed as Rocky's assistant manager. Rocky would train me to take over the Ocean Hotel for the coming summer season. Over the course of two memorable months, Rocky went out of his way to set me up for success. No one could have been more selfless and helpful in sharing his knowledge and providing me with the tools for the job. By the time Rocky left to return to the camp in Skegness for the summer, he had enabled me to introduce many new ideas I had in my head, including a brand new format for the weekly printed entertainment programme. Without his support, encouragement and knowledge of company policy, senior management etc, I know I would never have got these new ideas accepted.

Chris Chapmans Untold story

My Butlins journey with Rocky continued in the summer of 1970 when, after a few short weeks at the Filey camp, I went to Skegness as his deputy for the season. I will never forget that on the Saturday of my transfer, Rocky Mason was the first person I saw standing on the platform in his dinner jacket! He was in between shows for the weekly Who's Who. How many people would roll out a red carpet like that? That season was quite amazing, Rocky took me to all the management meetings, let me attend the Redcoat meetings, helped me learn so much important administrative stuff, and at the same time improved my stage skills, compering etc,


Towards the end of the season I was approached by P&O Cruises to interview for the position of Entertainment Officer on their ships. It was a very attractive job opportunity and an exciting proposition for a 25-year-old. Naturally, I was a little reluctant to tell Rocky after all he had done for me. I needn't have worried. When I broke the news to him, he broke into a big smile and said 'go for it'. I was accepted and went on to a long and successful career as a cruise director with P&O/Princess Cruises.

Chris Chapman

Aside from my immediate family, nobody has had more influence on me at a crucial point in my life than Rocky Mason. So many of my lifetime achievements would never have been possible without him. I also know that I am just one of a long list of people, over the years, whose lives Rocky Mason made better.

As a footnote, many years later in 1980 to be exact, I was on leave from my ship and in the UK, P&O suggested I go to Filey to see Rocky and discuss possible cruise staff entertainers. Would you believe that Rocky was once again on the station platform to meet me!! Needless to say, we had a wonderful week together. With the introduction of social media, we stayed in touch and were always sharing amusing stories and updating each other. Rocky Mason was indeed the person who “Pointed me in the right direction” at a crucial time in my life and I was so happy I was able to stay in touch right up to his passing.

"Thank you, Rocky"

Chris Chapman

Special Moments at Butlin's

I can honestly admit that all those thoughts of excitement each day at Butlins used to go through my head every day and I would find it hard to get to sleep thinking about what was in the shop the next day. I remember the excitement of approaching the Clacton warehouse each year and, as we rounded the bend, wanting to see what had been added from the previous year.

In 1956 it was the fair, which had been moved forward to make way for the huge new block of chalets along the seafront side of the camp. Then in 1958, I could see the big roof sign of the new Gaiety Theatre, plus the brand new indoor pool building with the wonderful South Seas Bar. I couldn't wait for us to check in so I could explore the camp. Then every day of the holiday was magic, magic, magic. Fantastic things to do all day, ALL TOTALLY FREE! Three meals a day, with seconds wherever you wanted, then great evening entertainment for children, early evening, and for adults until about 11 pm, ending with the excitement of 'Penny on the Drum'.

The fact that even now, at the age of 77, I can still recall those wonderful, wonderful times with such vivid detail, says so much, says it all. There has never been anything like Butlins in its heyday, before or since! Once you checked in everything was free except for extras bought in the shops and drinks and things in the bars. Something the Butlins of today can't boast of, nor would I expect them to, as times have changed so much. However, I and a few people I still keep in touch with can still dream with the memories of what Billy Butlin created and consider ourselves 'blessed' to have experienced it. I have been since 1948. Thank you, Sir William, it was indeed most pleasant!

Permission has been given to Mark and Butlins Memorabilia website by Chris Chapman to show his wonderful Butlin's story. All stories and photos shown on this site do not belong to me and belong to those who have shared them with me. Please do not ask for their details as I will not share them with you as I do not hold their details and it's not my place to give them away if I did.

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Who and What is Butlin's Memorabilia Website

Mark Banks is the individual responsible for the creation and ownership of this website, which displays his collection of Butlin's memorabilia. It was created in my spare time after work as a hobby and has since grown into a site that gives others a chance to smile. It is important to note that this website is not associated with Butlin's and is not an official archive of the company. Furthermore, it includes stories, with the consent of the individuals involved, that recount memorable moments at Butlin's from both customers and former staff members. This website pays homage to the esteemed company and its founder, Sir William Butlin. Additionally, it provides information on the history of Butlin's, based on personal research.

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The Untold Stories of Butlin's

The website now includes a section called 'Untold Stories of Butlin's', featuring personal anecdotes shared by members of my group. The website now includes a section called 'Untold Stories of Butlin's', featuring personal experiences shared by members of my group. Members of the group have graciously shared their personal experiences at Butlin's and added these stories to the website. These stories are not affiliated with the official company but rather represent the memories of the individuals who shared them.
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Please note that Butlin's Memorabilia is an independent website and is not affiliated with the official Butlins website or archive. The owners of Butlin's and have not been involved in the development of this site, nor have they approached me to design it. However, I am grateful for their willingness to allow me to continue to share the rich history of their company with you.

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