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"We are going to Butlin's Somerwest World "

My untold Butlin's story begins at my former home in North London, in an estate called Tyrellway, West Hendon. Today the estate has been demolished and replaced with new flats. However, my memory of sitting in my upstairs room, looking out the window, and thinking "I wonder what is happening at Butlin's today that I am missing" remains strong. Waiting for our next holiday was always something I disliked as it seemed to take forever to arrive. As I daydreamed about my time at Butlin's, I would often feel sad that I was at home and not at the one place I loved so much.

Then the moment would come when me and my brother would be upstairs in our room "MARK AND ROBERT, COME DOWNSTAIRS INTO THE LIVING ROOM". We didn't know what to think as we tried to think of something bad we might have done "Did you do something Rob?" "No, have you?" As we walked into the living room we saw our mum (Annette) and dad (Paul) sitting there with straight faces "Sit down boys, we need to talk to you" I remember looking at them trying to figure out what they were going to say to us.

As we waited, my mum looked at us with a serious face and said, "There's something that me and your dad need to tell you and it's something that you need to listen to carefully" In my head, I was thinking, "PLEASE BE BUTLIN'S, PLEASE!!!!" In a calm tone, my mum looked at both of us and continued "You will need to do chores and much more work around the flat for this job" My mind was going crazy "JUST SAY PLEASE!!!" as my mum continued "The reason you need to do more work around the flat is to earn pocket money..." "But we already do that Mum" "But this time Robert, it's to save up for pocket money at Butlin's" I would jump up with joy at the news that we were going to my second home again. With excitement, I would say to myself "do what it takes to get that allowance Mark, it's serious time".

"Thank you, Mum and Dad," I would say in an excited tone, running back upstairs to my room and shouting "YES, YES, YES!!!" I was so happy and excited about the news that I would stare out of the window at everyone else and think "Hahaha, I am going to Butlin's Somerwest World and you are not! With the excitement building, I couldn't wait to tell my friends as I started the new "Save Butlin's Pocket Money" operation. Every day I did whatever was asked of me to succeed in my quest, hoping that the days would fly by. I would go to bed early and try my best to wish that each day would go very quickly. At school I counted down the days and at home I counted down the nights, wishing that the special day would come as soon as possible.

With each passing day, it became harder and harder to hide my excitement from others as I imagined the stunning chalets and all that was on offer. I found it so hard to take my mind off Butlin's and wanted day one to be here now. My patience had paid off as the last night at home finally arrived and by this time I was in a moment of conflict. Part of me wanted to go to bed early so that the next day would come quicker, but another part of me wanted to stay up all night in excitement. The day I wanted so much to be here had finally arrived and my mind was so full of excitement "Have you got everything you need....what if you wake up late, but hang on, Mum and Dad will wake me up for that....go to sleep Mark, ok here we go................................................................... I wonder if Butlins have changed anything from last time...oh yeah imagine if they....go to sleep!! we go....the funfair with the sea breeze on your face, what a feeling, oh and the beach, relaxing in the country air...ahhhhh go to sleep!!" and the night became a challenge until I finally fell asleep.

West Hendon to London Paddington

When I woke up in the morning I would look out of the window and think "YES, YES, and YES, today is the one" as I would say to myself "IT'S BUTLINS DAY!!!". Getting out of bed, I would rush to the bathroom to brush my teeth to make sure I was ready for the journey from home to Paddington station. Once my teeth were clean, I would run downstairs as fast as I could to do everything my parents told me to do. Then came the moment of "ok boys, wait outside, we are ready to go" I would carry whatever they asked me to carry and wait outside the front door, thinking I was the luckiest boy in London at that moment. The door would be closed as my parents would lock it, "Let's go, we have a train to catch to Butlin's".

Every trip to London Paddington would be different as we could either take the London Underground, a taxi or a friend giving us a lift. Whatever the method of getting to Paddington Station, the memory was always the same. I would always look at the other people as we passed and think to myself "Ha ha ha, I'm off to Butlin's Somerwest World and you're all stuck here, I'm so lucky". As we got closer and closer, we would eventually drive into the station, when there was a drive-through. As we entered, either from the Tube or from a car, the smell of the trains and the noise of the station confirmed that this was real and not a dream.

As we walked further into the station, I heard the announcement of another train section from the station, which took my excitement to a new level. Back in the day (1990s - 1998), the notice boards used to have a flip board design, which meant that every time the platform appeared or a new train was announced, a noise would be made. Every time it made a noise, I would look up to see if it was the one we were booked on. My mum and dad would often say to me "Keep an eye on it, Mark, when it's ready you'll know what to do" Operation "Keep an eye on the Butlins train" was on my mind.

My patience was wearing thin as I kept looking up at the board, thinking that everyone in the station was coming to the same place as me. I wanted to make sure I was looking at the right one, "Which one, Dad?" "It's the 09:59 Mark, stopping at Taunton". Well maybe not this time but the feeling was always there as I tried to get it to turn "Come on, tell us the platform already" My excitement at this stage was turning to frustration as I wanted to be on this train now but I had to wait. Then the moment arrived when an announcement was made as the board turned to show the platform number.

I would grab everything we needed and rush off to find our seats in Coach D (always Coach D as Dad is a smoker (they used to have smoking cars back then)). Racing down the platform, we would find our coach as I opened the big yellow door. Finding a seat, Robert and I would sit down with excitement, knowing it was only a matter of time before we moved. I would look around to see my mum and dad slowly walking towards us, my mind going crazy with excitement and worry as I would think "HURRY UP" as I was convinced the train was about to leave. My parents placed their luggage in the designated areas and sat down with us.

By this stage of the journey, I had stopped listening to my parents and was concentrating on what was happening outside on the platform. To me, everyone who was coming was here to join us at Butlin's and I wanted to get off. The more people that came, the longer it would take to get to Taunton and I needed the train to start now. A loud whistle outside and the train began to move as I concentrated on the announcement on the train confirming that Taunton was on the list of places it would stop. As the train moved I saw London begin to disappear and the feeling of calm began to set in, knowing that the journey I wanted so much was already on the second part of the journey.

London Paddington to Taunton Station

The train started moving at a very high speed and I paid particular attention to the announcements made by the train staff. I would look at the beautiful scenes outside that we are all given to see. The long views of the fields were so breathtaking that I would just smile, knowing that I was on my way to a place I loved. Mum and Dad would always pack a feast for the journey as we would eat and drink on the way. We played games wherever we could, but there was only one place on my mind and it was hard to shake it.

When I took a short walk to the end of the carriage, I would open the window in the door and let in a breeze. I would never stick my head out, knowing the danger, but I would put it at an angle where the cold air would hit my face. The sounds of the train would keep me calm as the pure beauty of the countryside made me feel like I was in heaven. Seeing the cows, horses, and pigs just made me feel so special, as these are areas you don't see much of in London. As I sat back at the table I looked at the stations we stopped at and thought "More Butlin's people...why don't they go away".

I'm laughing because that's really how I felt at the time, I loved that moment so much that I wanted it to be just for me. The train journey was so special to me as I wanted it to be fast but at the same time slow as the feeling was something I enjoyed very much. Then a moment came "The next station is Taunton" and that was it for me, I had no time for games as I had to concentrate on getting to Taunton. By the time the train arrived at the station, I was standing near the door, ready to leave. The train stopped and the door was open, I stepped out onto the platform and felt so good to be back in Somerset. I am almost home at this point, but at the same time I am not in London and that is very important to me as there is only one last part of my journey.

The train journey experience

This video was taken by me in 2014 on my way to Taunton with my children and Carri (my partner). It's a moment when I realise there's no pressure, no worries, just peace and nature showing me there's more to life. As I am also a train enthusiast, that moment became very special to me and remains so to this day as I am reminded of those golden times. I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to experience this then and now in 2014.

Taunton Station

Standing on the platform, I wanted to capture this moment, as the station holds so many fond memories for me. As we started to leave, I could hear the whistle as the doors of the train closed. Then the train that had taken us from London to Taunton began to move again as it disappeared from the station. On the other platform was the family returning home and I could not help but think "HAHAHAHA I AM GOING TO BUTLINS AND YOU ARE NOT" It did not matter to me that not everyone there was from Butlins because they were to me.

I laugh about this feeling now as I remember it so well as it never occurred to me that some were on holiday and some who had never been to Butlins before. To me, everyone at the station was there because of Butlin's, including the staff! The world I lived in when it came to Butlin's was one of pure love for the name. I was so happy and did not want the day to go by so quickly as it was an important moment for me as I could feel the warmth of Somerset and the change in atmosphere. To this day, the best day for me is always the one when you travel to the location because it's the moment when you can relax.

As we left the station we would go to a special area where there was a special bus service from Taunton Station direct to Minehead Butlin's. It was a big green-decker bus, still called the 28, and it would be waiting for us to go to my second home. My dad would take the luggage to the back of the bus where a man would take it and put it on the back seats. Once inside we would go upstairs to find it very hot and not very clean, but I did not care as I knew where this was taking me. As we waited, I would see another train arrive and I would think, "No more, come on! Let's go". Most of the time we got on this bus, it was very hot, but I was just concentrating on things.

The bus started with a loud bang and the front section began to vibrate as I smiled at my parents. It was only a matter of time before it started moving. The doors would close and the bus would start to move away from the station as my excitement would be too much to handle, at that moment I couldn't help but smile and be so very happy. Wow, even now I can feel that and realise how important that time was for me then and now as I explain my story to you.

Bus 28 from Taunton to Minehead Butlin's

As the bus started its journey, I would look for key areas that would give me a sign that I was near. Looking for the key signs, I would ignore any noise from the bus, as I was now on a new "spot the signs to Butlins" operation. A key point for me is this roundabout where it would turn right, meaning that Taunton was no longer behind me and I was further away from my home in London and closer to my home in Minehead.

The bus continued on its way to Butlin's as I continued to smile as I waited for the next part that I had always looked forward to. At this point, many people would put their hand out to ask the bus to stop, but as it was a direct service, the bus would continue on with the customers on board cheering. Another key area of the journey was this part where it would make a sharp turn under the bridge. I used to love this part as it made me feel like I was on the other side and where I should be for Butlin's as the train tracks went there.

The bus would slow down as we arrived at the pretty town of Williton. As the bus went down the hill, I knew it was only a matter of time before we reached the roundabout. My excitement level had increased greatly as there was not much of the journey left. I'm so happy to be at this point because inside I'm bursting with happiness and I know it's just over there!

Dunster Castle....Now we are full of excitement as this means Butlins is just around the corner and there are not enough words to describe how I feel at this stage.

The original route to Butlin's

New route to Minehead town

At a later stage, the roads were altered to provide a more direct route to Butlins and the town of Minehead. This road, called the Seaward Way, would take much of the journey out of the park .This is the road that many people use today (2023) to get to and from Butlin's.

I am home!

The bus comes to the last part of the journey as it turns right into the main area of Butlin's. Redcoats would be waiting outside waving at us as security came out to talk to the bus driver. My mind was in overdrive as I looked left to see Sunsplash and the funfair. As I got off the bus, I remember walking into the car park and feeling like I had hit the jackpot. I could hear the sounds of the swimming pool and the smell of the sea air hit me. I walked to where my parents wanted me, but at that moment I did not care because I was at home.

As my parents went to get the luggage, I continued to look around and smile, thinking of all the changes that could have been made to the place I loved so much. It was, and still is, a very special moment for me, because you can never replace such a wonderful feeling on that day.

Thank you for reading my story of the journey from London to Butlins Minehead, the photos below will forever be in my mind and I hope they bring back memories for all of you.


Love for this era is so very strong to me

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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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