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Chairlifts Back

Six of the Butlin's sites once boasted chairlifts as part of the camp attractions. Some fulfilled a genuine transport need whilst others served mainly as amusement rides. All but one were supplied by the London company of British Chairlifts Ltd, a subsidiary of British Ropeway Engineering Company Ltd. This same firm were also responsible for the original system at Alton Towers (in 1963) and Drayton Manor Park, amongst others. The odd one out was the system at Barry Island as this was supplied by the Swiss company of Von Roll.

For the technically minded the operational speed was 600 feet per minute (just under 7 mph) and power was supplied by an electric motor ranging from 25HP to 65HP depending on the length and size of the installation. A petrol engine was also installed for use as an emergency backup in the event of a power faliure.

All of the Butlins chairlifts have now been removed. A cabin from the Filey system was preserved and is now sitting in a garden in the north of England (see photo below). Some parts of the old Barry chairlift were purchased by Blackpool Pleasure Beach for use as spares on their own Von Roll system. But presumably the rest were scrapped - unless of course you know different!

The following table gives brief info on the Chairlifts - also known as Cableways, Cable Cars, Cable Rides and Rope Railways.

Camp Length First Season Last Season No. of Cabins
Ayr 520 yards 1959 1998 22
Barry Island 430 yards 1967 1989 ?
Filey 720 yards 1961 1983 39
Minehead 690 yards 1965 1997 ?
Pwllheli 1160 yards 1960 1998 65
Skegness 1170 yards 1962 1989 62

Information from the excellent book by Peter Scott entitled "A History of the Butlin's Railways" which contains extensive information on the miniature railways, chairlifts, monorails, steam locomotives and general history of the camps themselves. Contact Peter direct at pe.scott@ukonline.co.uk

Article from a 1962 entertainment guide

Above article from a 1962 entertainment guide

The ex-Filey chairlift cabin which was saved by Paul Wray

The ex-Filey chairlift cabin which was saved by Paul Wray and is now restored and preserved in his garden. Thanks to Paul for supplying the image.

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