Exploring The Ruins Of Butlins Filey

In 1999 I made several visits to the site of Butlins Filey, which had closed in 1983. The Camp had largely been demolished in the late 80's, but by the time I visited, extensive ruins were still standing in some areas of the camp. The site has today been cleared and largely overtaken by Primrose Valley Holiday Park.

Butlin's Filey was one of the earliest holiday camps, and the third Butlin's camp to be constructed. Work on the site began in 1939, but was suspended on the outbreak of war. During 1939-45, the site was taken over by the RAF and became RAF Filey. With the end of the war, ownership was returned to Billy Butlin and the site opened to the public in 1946. Major construction and changes to the camp continued into the 50's and 60's. The camp closed suddenly in 1983, and an attempt to reopen the site under new ownership a few years later failed. Partial demolition work commenced in 1989 and over the next year most of the camp was demolished. ('Butlins Filey- Thanks for The Memories' by Paul Wray) Inspite of this, when I visited in 1999 there were plenty of reminders of what had once been a thriving holiday camp.

Major parts of the original camp are shown here over-layed on a map of present-day Primrose Valley. 1) Entrance to the camp (still a road) 2) Boating Lake 3) Swimming pools 4) Car Park 5) Reception 6) Kent Dining Hall, French Bar and Viennese Building 7) Amusement park 8) Chalet blocks 9) Skating Rink 10) Children's Theatre 11) Empire Theatre 12) Stadium 13) Playing Field 14) Beach entrance (still a path) 15) Filey White House, where Billy Butlin lived when visiting the camp, (still standing).

White Camp

Whilst working at Primrose Valley Holiday Park in the summer of 1999, I finished work early one afternoon and decided to go for a walk along the cliff top. I noticed a fence and an open gate, and was intrigued to see some ruins buildings beyond. I had no idea what the site was, but went in and started to explore. 

The first ruins I encountered were those of the White Camp chalets, which was the closest part of the camp to the sea. These chalets were largely still standing in 1999.

The main path through white camp, with chalets on either side. (D Stuart Photography)
White camp chalets. The site was windswept and desolate on my first visit. (D Stuart Photography)
White camp chalets (D Stuart Photography)
White camp chalets (D Stuart Photography)
Left hand side, a chalet corridor and right, the remains of the toilet block. (D Stuart Photography)
Bed frames can be seen standing upright in these chalets. (D Stuart Photography)
White camp chalets (D Stuart Photography)
White camp chalets (D Stuart Photography)

The Main Camp

Most of the central part of the camp had been completley demolished by the late 1990's, leaving only a sea of rubble.

The camp's main gate at the south end of the site. Kent Dining Hall had stood just behind these gates, but was totally demolished when I visited. (D Stuart Photography)
Unidentified ruins near White Camp. ( D Stuart Photography)
A view across the camp site showing that most of the buildings had been destroyed, leaving heaps of rubble. The swimming pool can be seen in the background. (D Stuart Photography)
A similar view of the rubble. (D Stuart Photography)
Approaching the indoor pool. As I got near enough to see it was a swimming pool, I realised for the first time that I was in the ruins of a holiday Camp. (D Stuart Photography)

The Swimming Pools

Butlins Filey had two pools, an indoor and an outdoor one. The indoor pool had been built in 1939 during the camp's initial contruction, and the heated indoor pool constructed in 1953. The indoor pool had originally had an outer building which encased the pool itself, and this had housed The Oasis Bar, The Oasis Cafe and The Promenade  Lounge. By 1999, this outer shell had been demolished, leaving only the inner walls of the pool. The oudoor pool and fountains were largely intact.

The pools and fountains in 1999. The outer shell of the indoor pool has been entirely demolished, leaving only the inner block which actually held the water. (D Stuart Photography)
The indoor pool, and running along side it, the site of the demolished promenade lounge. (D Stuart Photography)
The outdoor and indoor pools. (D Stuart Photography)
The outdoor pool, intact save for the diving platform that had once existed on the far side. (D Stuart Photography)
Site of the Oasis bar, looking towards the outdoor pool. (D Stuart Photography)
Site of The Oasis bar, looking away from the pool. 1999. Some of the bar's floral decorations can still be seen on the wall. (D Stuart Photography)
Left, a view through one of the pools windows at the far end, showing the pool's floor sloping down to the deep end. Right, one of the fountains, which had survived in very good condition. (D Stuart Photography)
The northern fountain, looking up from the road that ran between the pool and the boating lake. (D Stuart Photography)
Myself with the southern fountain on a rainy day late in 1999. (D Stuart Photography)
The fountain at the northern end of the pool. (D Stuart Photography)
Looking up the steps from the roadway between the pools and boating lake. The indoor pool can be seen across the outdoor pool. (D Stuart Photography)
Looking North from the site of the French Bar, towards the site of The Children's Theatre. The pool and fountain can be seen behind.

Other Structures

The boating lake was largely drained of water and overgrown, but otherwise intact. (D Stuart Photography)
Two storey chalets to the South East of the site. (D Stuart Photography)
The roller-skating rink and its cabin, located next to the boating lake, and just to the left of the main south entrance gate.
The interior of the cabin at the end of the roller-skating rink. (D Stuart Photography)
The other end of the skating rink cabin. (D Stuart Photography)


A suprising amount of small objects, furniture and personal possessions survived on site when I explored it. 

Roller boot and chair. (D Stuart Photography)
Electricity or gas metres. (D Stuart Photography)
A large quantity of Butlin's marked cutlery and crockery had been mixed with concrete and used as building material at some point. (D Stuart Photography)
Some of the Butlin's marked cutlery that could be found on site in 1999. (D Stuart Photography)
A sign on the site of Kent Dining Hall. (D Stuart Photography)

Please feel free to contact me with any information.

You might also be interested in; Exploring Scarborough's Lost South Bay Pool

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