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Butlins Monorails Back

The first commercial monorail system in the UK opened at the Skegness camp in May 1965. Running for nearly a mile in a large loop, the ride took in a sizable chunk of the camp. The structure was formed of 320 tons of steel with 160 supports, and ran 16ft above the ground. Two stations were provided, one close to the indoor pool and the other next to the chairlift station on the north side. It was never intended to serve as any kind of transportation feature, the whole concept was simply to provide a novel and entertaining pleasure ride. Three rocket-shaped trains were supplied and each one could carry 50 passengers with a maximum speed of 15 mph. The whole system cost around £50,000 (the equivalent of over half-a-million in today's money). The old trains were replaced with newer versions in the early 1990s and the monorail ran until the end of 2002. It was then dismantled. Click here for some demolition photos.

The other Butlin's monorail opened at the Minehead camp on 13th May 1967. Running on a shorter half-mile run, the track formed a figure-of-eight loop taking in the Princess and Regency buildings. Construction took 4 months and the track varied from 16ft to 30ft above ground level. The tracks crossed each other on an impressive structure located above the outdoor swimming pool. A pair of 40-seat trains provided the service and only one station was built, this being situated to the rear of the Princess building. The Minehead monorail closed following an accident during the summer of 1996. One train ran into the back of another and 7 people received minor treatment. Butlins were fined a total of £22,500. The cost to upgrade the system was thought too high, so the monorail was closed for good. The structure remained in place for another two years before being torn down during the winter of 1998. The area where the trains crossed is now home to the Skyline Pavillion.

Above 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

Monorail postcard images can be seen in the relevant Skegness & Minehead sections.

Click here for some photos of the Skegness monorail demolition

Below is an extract from a recent staff handbook from the Skegness monorail

Thanks to Simon Moseley for supplying the scans

Monorail Staff Handbook - part 1

Monorail Staff Handbook - part 2

Monorail Staff Handbook - part 3