Pontins Blackpool Holiday Camp & Squires Gate - History

The brainchild of Herbert Pye this 39-acre site started in 1933 as a camping ground with tents and in 1938 these were replaced by 749 wooden chalets accommodating over 2000 guests. The total expenditure on land, buildings and facilities had reached £93,000 by this time but the camp was generating £12,000 a year in profits .In 1939 a new dining hall, bar, 'grand piazza' and outdoor swimming pool were built. Pye had spent some years living in California and the architecture and interior designs were very much in that west coast American/Spanish style. Squires Gate railway station adjoined the camp and had it's own entrance direct to the platforms.

Squires Gate Holiday Camp

During the war it was taken over by the Navy and renamed HMS Prithibian. 

It was sold to Pontins in 1961 for £375,000 and Fred Pontin later remarked it was the best investment he'd ever made. Within a year the 38 acre site was rebuilt with new chalets arranged in one or two-storey blocks. The original Squires Gate entertainment building and swimming pool were both retained, and the pool was later enclosed inside a new building. In 1969 a new 1,600 seat theatre was opened at a cost of £100,000.

It was a full board site so all meals were included and were taken in the huge communal dining room. The 859 chalets were hotel-style, consisting of a bedroom, bathroom, kettle (Teasmade in the early days) and not much else. TVs in the chalets didn't appear until the 1990s. In 1972 a week in August cost £18.50 per person which had risen to £84 by 1982.

The camp was located at the end of the runway at Blackpool Airport and in June 1972 the inevitable happened when a small Hansa jet plane overshot the runway and smashed into the camp destroying 10 chalets and causing a huge fireball. Miraculously nobody on the ground was inured as everyone was in the dining hall having dinner. 7 people on the plane sadly lost their lives

In the early-1980s a new reception building was constructed along with a sports and recreation hall featuring a snooker room, coffee bar, sauna, gym and hot tub. By this time the camp could accommodate 2,500 people.

Pontins Blackpool Holiday Camp

No other major investment took place and by the 2000s the camp was looking very rundown although it was still hugely popular. In common with other Pontin camps speculation was rife that it was all a deliberate attempt at justifying closure so the land could be sold for more lucrative housing. 

The closure was announced in September 2009 with the loss of 70 full time jobs. By 2013 demolition was complete and construction of a new housing estate was well underway. Where was the camp located? Search out Ashworth Road or Stubblefield Drive.

 site of pontins blackpool holiday camp

 

Click here to see our photos of Pontins Blackpool & Squires Gate

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