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Wish You Were Here The Lives, Loves and Friendships of the Butlin's Girls by Lynn Russell, Neil Hanson

Sue Baker's view...

With the onset of package holidays the thought of a week at Butlins does not have the allure it once did when they first opened in 1936, then they were a marvel for ordinary working-class men and women wanting a well-priced family holiday. One of the big attractions at Butlins were the Red Coats, the staff there to help with everything from babysitting to entertainment. Together, holidaymakers and the Red Coats’ experiences and memories are shared in Wish You Were Here.

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Who is Sue Baker

The Good Book Guide logo The Good Book Guide Review. Back in the rather drab aftermath of the Second World War years, Billy Butlin’s holiday camps (first opened in 1936) offered working families the rare chance to escape their domestic responsibilities and enjoy a week of pure entertainment and fun, all masterminded by the inimitable team of resident Redcoats. Whether organising knobbly knees competitions, forming enduring friendships or even falling in love, seven of the girls who worked at Butlin’s in this capacity during its golden heyday from the fifties through to the seventies reflect on their memorable time there, their reminiscences forming the foundation of an amusing and heartfelt slice of nostalgia.
~ Amanda Hodges

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Wish You Were Here The Lives, Loves and Friendships of the Butlin's Girls by Lynn Russell, Neil Hanson

Touching true stories from the heyday of the Butlin's holiday camps. 'When I got to the camp I felt as if I'd suddenly walked into Utopia - it was so colourful, so warm, so friendly. There were lights across the roads, there were banners fluttering in the breeze...There seemed to be laughter coming from every building.' With grey post-WWII skies hanging low over Britain, factories lining the streets and smoke stacks dotting the horizon, there was one way that ordinary families could escape: the ever-cheerful holiday camps of Butlin's. When Billy Butlin founded his holiday camps in 1936, they were bastions of community spirit and havens of luxury. Here, for one week, wives and mothers were freed from the toil and drudgery of housework, children ran free through the grounds, fathers and husbands hung up their work clothes. Ever-helpful redcoats were on hand all hours of the day, dinner halls ready with plentiful food for old and young alike, bars stocked to quench any level of thirst, ballrooms waiting to be flooded with shiny shoes, rustling dresses and peals of laughter. And, as the sun went down on another exhausting, happy day, a chorus line was ready to sing holidaymakers back to their beds. Rich in period detail and highly evocative, Wish You Were Here! follows the lives of five of the camps' key figures through the highs and lows of the holiday season: from redcoats searching for stardom to young families who returned year after year, to pensioners who rediscovered an inner youth. The laughter and tears, the loves and losses, and the fun and friendships that have lasted a lifetime - it's all here. Funny, moving and heartwarming, they are tales of swimming pools and sing-a-longs, Glamorous Grannies and bicycle rides, and of a community spirit that burned brightly in a much-loved British institution.


Praise for Neil Hanson and The Inn at the Top: 'Massively readable... full of rich anecdote, wry and often touching observations, amusing characters, witty dialogue and fascinating information.
Gervase Phinn

'One of the funniest, most entertaining and life-affirming books of the year...'
Lancashire Evening Post

'A funny and delightful tale'

About the Author

Neil Hanson is the author of many acclaimed works of narrative history including The Custom of the Sea, The Dreadful Judgement, The Confident Hope of a Miracle and The Unknown Soldier. Lynn Russell is Neil's writing partner and spouse. They live in Yorkshire with their family.

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Book Info

Publication date

19th June 2014


Lynn Russell, Neil Hanson

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Author 'Like for Like'


Harper Element an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers


304 pages


The Real World
Biography / Autobiography
eBook Favourites

Social & cultural history

20th century history: c 1900 to c 2000
Sociology: sport & leisure



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