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Filey Memories by Paul Graham (Part One) Back

It was a Friday afternoon and I was sat looking out of the window staring into space when all of a sudden the sound of a buzzer came over the tannoy system. Everyone in the room stood up and pushed their chairs under the desks. The man at the front of the room said "File out in single file". We never did, everybody just ran to the door. We all ran down the long corridor to the steps at the end. There were six flights of steps and I ran down them two at a time. Once outside the building I continued running, across the playground, over the playing fields, and out of the gate. Normally this would have been a leisurely walk with my mates but today was special, it was the last day of school for a week and tomorrow me and my family were going on holiday to Butlins at Filey. The excitement was unbearable and I knew that tonight was going to be very long. As I ran home I could see images of Butlins in my mind and the excitement grew.

On arrival at home I went straight in to the dining room and on the table was a list and a ten pound note. The dreaded shopping list. I hated Friday shopping, I had to go to four different shops and because it was Friday there was always a Queue in every shop. Any normal Friday was bad enough but this Friday was worse because of the excitement about tomorrow. By the time I arrived back home with a shopping bag full my Mum and Dad had arrived home from work. Also my younger sister was there and as my Mum prepared the tea, we talked excitedly about tomorrow. After tea I walked out of the house down the street to the bus stop. I was meeting my cousin Gary. We grew up together and were more like brothers than cousins and every year he came away with us.

As I stood there waiting for his bus to arrive, I slipped into another day dream, planning the things we would do when we got on holiday. Eventually the bus arrived and Gary jumped off the bus. As we walked back to our house we talked about Butlins. I wonder what changes they have made he said.

I wonder if they have got some new rides.

After a fairly sleepless night Saturday morning came. You could sense the excitement through the whole house. The cases were packed and in the hall ready to be loaded into the car. After what seemed like hours the car was loaded and we all piled in. At last we were on our way. The journey took about ninety minutes, but it was the longest ninety minutes I have known. Eventually we turned on to the Scarborough road and headed south. Then in the distance the familiar site of flags appeared, then the holiday camp came into view. You could see the chairlift with the brightly coloured cars travelling from the front of the camp to the back. The familiar sight of the green corrugated roofs of the buildings came into view and as we travelled south towards the entrance all the brightly coloured buildings appeared, the main buildings at the front and at the back, rows and rows of chalet buildings, stretching back towards the beach. We turned left into the entrance and stopped at the security booth. The smartly dressed security guard approached and said "Guests or visitors", my Dad replied guests and the security guard pointed us to the direction of the car park.

As we drove into the car park you could see the big wheel over the top of the dining hall. I remember stood watching it as the cases were unloaded from the car. We made our way to reception, at this point the conversation turned to our accommodation, "will we be on a single row or a two storey row. I hope we are upstairs if we are in a two storey row". My Dad went to the counter in reception to book us in.

The reception was a long narrow building with a counter running almost the full length of the building. There were various photographs behind the counter lit up by lights showing people enjoying them selves on holiday. After booking in we had to collect our chalet keys from the end of the counter and I remember wooden boards with hundreds of keys hanging on hooks. The keys also had a coloured plastic tag on (red, yellow blue green). "We are in yellow camp" my Dad said, and the keys had a yellow tag on. "I'll see if I can get hold of a barrow boy" he said "I'm not carrying these cases all that way". The yellow camp was situated to the north of the camp so it was quite away to walk with heavy cases.

As we walked from reception towards our chalet, I remember all the sky blue and primrose painted buildings. To the left was the beachcomber bar and café. The entrance had totem poles outside with a small bamboo roof over the top. Upstairs was the Princess ballroom with the snooker hall. On the right was the amusement arcade and on top was the Wild mouse. The entrance to the amusement park was through the amusement arcade. As we got to the end of the road we turned left. In front of us was green camp. We headed North towards our chalet. We passed under the chairlift, to the left was a children's playground with swings and slides. We arrived at our chalet and went through the door. The familiar smell greeted us as we went in. It was like a damp smell, but not overpowering, if I smell that smell today it takes me straight back to a Butlins chalet. The accommodation was very basic, beds, sink, wardrobe, chest of drawers, but that didn't matter the chalet was only for sleeping in.

After unpacking it was off to the Holiday Fayre for some dinner. This was only a short walk from our chalet. It was quite a large single storey building, all the tables and chairs were set out in neat rows, the floor was tiled in red, yellow and blue. To the left of the Holiday Fayre was the fish restaurant. This was also a single storey building the same size of the Holiday Fayre and set the same way but behind the counter was the frying range and on the back of the range was a sea scene with a light house whose light flashed at regular periods.

After dinner we were able to go off on our own and explore the camp. We knew that the amusement park was closed for lunch so we didn't start there. "I fancy a game of snooker" I said and Gary said "So do I" so we headed towards the Beachcomber bar. The entrances to the ballroom and snooker hall were on the corners of the building and when you went through the door you went upstairs. There were four doors, two of them led straight into the snooker room, one led into a lounge and the other took you into the ballroom. The whole upstairs was divided into two halves with a wall which ran down the centre of the room. One half was the snooker hall and the other was divided into two with cinema like seating separating the lounge from the ballroom area. On the dividing wall was a small stage with an organ and a kit of drums on. In front of this was large wooden floor. The floor was a herring bone design made from presumably wooden floor tiles of different shades of wood. Around the floor were rows of cinema like chairs. On the other side was big comfy arm chairs and people would sit there quietly reading books or newspapers, or just enjoying the peace and quiet. In the snooker hall there were rows and rows of snooker tables. At one end of the room was a small serving hatch and you went to this to collect your snooker balls. You handed over your chalet key and on a wall behind the hatch was a board with numbered discs on hooks. As the attendant took your key he gave you a numbered disc and the set of balls. The number on the disc allocated you to a snooker table, also when you returned the balls you would get the right chalet key back. There was a sign just to the side of the hatch which read "If there is a queue please limit your game to thirty minutes." The floor was tiled the same as the Holiday Fayre restaurant. When you looked out of the window in the snooker hall you looked down to the amusement park. Straight away I noticed some changes. The Peterpan railway had been moved from its old location near the gaiety building to the amusement park. The dodgems were still at the far end of the park with big wheel behind. Some of the old rides had gone and been replaced but I can't remember what they were called. On the left hand side of the park was large structure with a roof, this was painted in the familiar colours of sky blue and primrose and was decorated with giant clown faces. Under this structure were more rides. This meant that if it rained the park could stay open and people wouldn't get wet, but the queues for the rides were very long.

After our game of snooker we headed to the boating lake. This was situated at the front of the camp. There was a variety of boats to ride on. The canoes were alright but you usually ended up getting soaking wet for they were half full of water. There were rowing boats, but we decided to opt for the peddle boats. The boating lake was quite large and had islands at various places though you couldn't get on to these. Around the boating lake ran a small railway. Behind the boating lake was the outdoor swimming pool. At either end of the swimming pool stood two fountains. Behind the outdoor swimming pool was indoor heated swimming pool. We went swimming once and the only way to enter the water was to take a run and just jump in. That water was freezing. The indoor swimming pool was a two storey building. The pool was actually upstairs, but downstairs were windows which you could watch people swimming. Downstairs there was the Oasis bar.

At two o clock all the rides opened in the amusement park. We decided to give the chairlift a go.

We entered the chairlift station where the machinery was to run the ride. On the window of the station was a sign which read "This ride will not operate in winds of force seven. Today's wind: Force four."

As you went into the station you could see the green structure which held all the machinery. At the back of the structure was a big red wheel. This drove the steel cable which carried the cars. In the middle of the structure was the motor and various electrical equipment. It was all painted bright red.

The two seater chairlift cars were painted in a variety of colours, all were numbered. You sat opposite each other in the open cars. The cars were like a metal frame, no glass. The door on the cars was just three metal bars on a hinge. Once the door was shut though you needed a special key to open it.

Once seated and locked into the car you moved slowly forward. The cars were evenly spaced out on the cable so there was a short wait for the launch. When launched it was quite fast. But once you cleared the station the noise of the machinery disappeared and you headed the short distance to the first pylon. As you rode over the pylon it was quite bumpy. At Filey there were five pylons. The third one being the highest point. At the east station there wasn't much machinery. The green structure was similar and the red wheel but there was no motor. When you entered the station, one of the operators asked "are you going back or getting off." If you were going back then you stayed in the car. We decided to get off and either get the camp train back or walk.

The camp train was basically a small car made to look like a train engine. This then pulled a number of carriages which people sat. I know it ran to and from the beach but I can't remember where it started from, but that didn't matter, it only travelled at a slow pace so you could jump on or off when and where you wanted, though I don't think you were meant to. (So what, I'm on holiday.)

We then headed to the amusement park. To enter this you had to go through the amusement arcade.

Inside the amusement arcade there was one corner taken up by prize bingo. The rest was full of slot machines of all descriptions. On the walls were plastic merry go round horses. On the roof of the arcade was the Wild Mouse. You could hear the rumble of the cars inside the arcade as they sped round the track. On entering the amusement park to the left were the speed boats. This was like a giant paddling pool with about eight red boats on. In the middle of the pool was a lighthouse. Each boat was attached to a metal bar coming out from under the lighthouse. This is what drove the boats. They sit four people, two in the front and two in the back. There were four half steering wheels so everyone in the boat could steer. Close to the boats was another ride which had yachts on. The yachts ran on a track which went up and down to create the effect of waves. We made our way to the Wild Mouse. You had to climb stairs to get to the entrance. The Wild mouse consisted of about six cars each car would hold three people. (four at a push) Each car was painted in three different colours and the chrome hand rail ran all round the car, so it was decorative as well as having a function. You sat in the car with your legs out stretched in front of you. On the floor of the car was a small piece of red padding which you sat on. The car set off and you headed for the lift chain. At the top of the lift chain the track levelled off and turned to the left. The wheels on the mouse cars were set slightly to the rear so when you came to a corner on the track it gave the illusion that were going to go straight off the edge. For the first part of the ride it was quite calm. But then you went round this bend to the first dip. After the first dip there was a corner, because the speed of the car at this point was quite fast it whipped you round the corner.

Next came the double dip. After that there was a couple of turns and small dips and the ride came to an end.

After tea we would go back to the chalet, get washed and changed and head to the disco. This was situated in the Regency building. At that time disco was fairly new and this one at Filey was very basic. I remember there was a couple of flashing lights, a stage where the DJ was, the walls were painted black but had fluorescent paintings on the wall. The room itself was quite big. Opposite the disco was the show bar. Once a week they held a late night cabaret featuring a big name performer. This you had to pay extra for.

The week followed the same pattern from day to day. Part two will feature my memories from later years.

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