I've never been to a Butlin's Holiday Camp.
Maybe I missed something special, but in the 1960s, Butlin's heyday, trendy coinage of the time would probably have labelled it ultra infra dig. And, later on, the extravagant antics in Hi-De-Hi struck me, as someone who'd never been, as probably extremely accurate. I suspect those who had been saw it as equally accurate!The camps exuded a strange combination of regimentation, freedom and bonhomie, a sort of land-bound exotic cruise, only to be overtaken when cheap flights opened up the Costa Brava and confined the regimentation to the airport and the tour company bus, but otherwise allowing the socially strangled workers more freedom than they'd ever known before.
Billy Butlin himself was extraordinarily proud of his camps, having conceived them after a wet week on Barry Island in South Wales, where he was locked out of his holiday accommodation.
In the mid-Sixties, Billy Butlin commissioned John Hinde, owner one of the largest postcard publishers in the world, to produce a series of picture postcards of the camps.
John Hinde was the great-grandson of James Clark of Clark's shoes, and was born into a wealthy family. By the late 1930s he was a pioneer of colour photography, and in 1947 was commissioned to photograph life at Ricoh's circus, which he eventually joined. His photographs found their way into the book, British Circus Life, published in 1948.
Finding himself in Ireland following the failure of his own touring circus-type troupe, he founded the photography company for which he became famous.
And the Butlin's photographs were the crowning of his career. At this time, all serious photography was in black and white, and even Butlin's previous colour postcards had looked somewhat faded and lacklustre. John Hinde brought an intense colour and vibrancy that hadn't been seen before, and complemented perfectly the camps' own perceived gaiety and brightness. They were, at the time, unique, even for the brash commercial world they fed.
The company slogan, which appeared in numerous places throughout the camps, was Our True Intent Is All For Your Delight, of which Butlin meant every word. He took it, he said, from the front a fairground organ, claiming he found out only many years later that it came from A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Both the slogan and the photographs hark back to a simpler and more enjoyable time, so it was no surprise when I saw that Butlin's have revived the slogan, complemented by distinctly arresting imagery, for their 2013 advertising campaign on UK TV.
The John Hinde company, owner of the copyright in the images, has changed hands several times, the latest very recently, and I have been unable to trace the present copyright holder. The London publisher of the superb book, Our True Intent Is All For Your Delight, appears not to be contactable, and the current successors to the John Hinde company deny any knowledge of the images! But they are published here in good faith, for review purposes, and I make no claim to ownership of them.