Collection: Pontins Brean Sands Holiday Camp

Scroll down for our Brean Sands canvas prints


Originally opened in the 1930s this small 6-acre camp was used during the war as a US army base. Fred Pontin bought the site in 1946 from the Dean family for £23,000 using a hefty bank loan along with investment from a consortium of city investors. It became the first ever Pontins holiday camp, with a capacity of 200 guests in small wooden chalets. A few months later Pontin purchased his second camp, also from the Dean family, this time at Osmington Bay in Weymouth. The camp was mostly furnished and equipped with war surplus furniture and equipment.

Pontins Brean Sands Holiday Camp

Pontins Brean Sands Holiday Camp

Facilities at Brean during that first year included the Tudor dining hall (where all meals were taken) a dance hall and a billiards room. Outside was a bowling green, putting green and two tennis courts. Chalets were equipped with electric lighting, lino floors and a hand basin with cold running water. Four meals a day were provided - breakfast, lunch, tea and dinner - and a week in August, fully inclusive, cost 5.5 guineas per adult (£5.77 which is approx £300 today). During the 1950s an outdoor swimming pool was added.

In 1963 the camp underwent a massive expansion, growing from 6 to 33 acres and becoming the first of the Pontin mega-camps, huge self catering sites accommodating 2000-3000 people mostly in two-storey self-catering apartment blocks. This was soon followed by similar camps at Prestatyn, Camber Sands, Hemsby and Southport. These mega-camps lacked the charm and character of the smaller sites and most ended up looking more like housing estates, but from a business perspective they were highly lucrative.

The map below shows the original camp in relation to the later expansion. The blue dot shows the location of the old tennis courts while the red dot shows the site of the old outdoor pool, both since removed. 

pontins brean sands holiday camp

Each of the 735 apartments had a kitchen, bathroom, lounge and one or two bedrooms. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s an apartment in August would consistently rent for the equivalent of around £500-£600 per week in today's money. 

Electricity and heating was supplied via a coin meter, along with coin-operated TVs. The showers had a button that had to be pressed every few seconds to keep the water flowing, a feature that remained on most apartments until the very end. The apartment meters also remained but were later converted to accept prepaid cards.

Facilities included a large indoor swimming pool, boating lake, huge ballroom, several bars, outdoor playground, a kids nursery with resident nanny, games room, launderette, hairdressers and a first aid surgery with registered nurse.

pontins chalet

By the 1990s, and in response to the declining holiday camp industry, Pontins cut back on investment and seemed more interested in selling off the assets. 12 camps were sold or closed that decade. Brean was retained but started suffering from a lack of investment. By the 2010s this neglect was plainly obvious with the camp looking very rundown and unkempt. Instead of fixing the issues the company simply went after the budget end of the market with all kinds of deals and special discounts. 

pontins deals and discounts

The company was acquired by Britannia Hotels in 2011 and they’ve since been blamed for everything that's gone wrong. In reality they inherited a bunch of rundown camps which had been starved of investment for 20 years. The previous owners had gone bankrupt. To rebuild everything would have cost a fortune, and wouldn't have made any financial sense. To their credit they did invest several million pounds and most of the chalets, including those at Brean, were refurbished with new furniture, paint, windows and flooring. 

Britannia continued aiming the camps at the budget end of the market. For example an apartment in August 1990 was £259 a week but 25 years later that same apartment in August 2015 was £209 per week. So they were basically charging 1980s prices in the 2010s. Plus, they too were offering all kinds of deals and discounts so most people ended up paying even less.

But they were fighting a losing battle as the low prices didn't leave much left over for cleaning, maintenance or future investment. The reality is that people only kept going because they were dirt cheap, not because they were nice. The reviews were very negative and they received a lot of bad press. 

They eventually threw in the towel in November 2023 by announcing the closures of the mega-camps at Camber Sands and Prestatyn, followed by Southport in January 2024. In 2023 it was announced that the camp at Brean Sands would be closing to the public for 3 years in order to house 900 workers for the Hinckley Point C nuclear project. It's long term future is unknown.

Step into the nostalgic charm of Pontins Holiday Camp at Brean Sands with our exclusive collection of vintage color photos spanning from the 1940s to the 1980s. Capture the timeless memories of seaside vacations, vibrant activities, and the unique atmosphere that defined this beloved destination. Now available as high-quality canvas prints, these images allow you to bring the retro allure of Pontins into your space.

Our textured, fade-resistant canvas prints are meticulously stretched around a substantial 3/4" thick wooden frame and expertly stapled on the back, ensuring both durability and a polished presentation. Each print preserves the vivid colors and intricate details of Pontins' history, enabling you to adorn your space with a piece of holiday nostalgia. To make your experience even better, we offer free worldwide shipping.

Effortlessly bring the breezy vibes of Pontins at Brean Sands into your home with these quality canvas prints, delivering a touch of seaside history to your doorstep with no additional shipping charges. Explore and relive the joyous moments of Pontins with these captivating and evocative pieces.