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Pontins Holiday Parks
TypePrivate limited company
IndustryHoliday / Leisure
Founded1946; 76 years ago (1946)
FounderFred Pontin
HeadquartersSt Helier, Jersey, CI (registered office)
Ainsdale, Southport, Merseyside (trading office)
Number of locations
Six holiday parks in UK
Key people
Alex Langsam (founder of Britannia Hotels)
ProductsFamily holiday parks
Number of employees

Pontins is a British company operating holiday parks in the UK, founded in 1946 by Fred Pontin. Since 2011, it has been owned by Britannia Hotels.[1]

Pontins specialises in offering half-board and self-catering holidays featuring entertainment at resorts, or "holiday parks", as they have branded them. Accommodation is usually in the form of chalets (which Pontins calls "apartments").

Company history[edit]

Balloon car 707, seen with an all over advert for Pontin's, at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, 5 August 1990

Fred Pontin opened his first holiday camp in 1946 on the site of a former U.S. army base (built during World War II), at Brean Sands near Weston-super-Mare in Somerset at a cost of £23,000. Pontin formed a syndicate, in which he held 50% control, to own the camp.[2] Within a year he had six camps.[3] Over the years he bought more camps and personally ran them for a year, before selling them to the syndicate.[2] He gradually expanded his empire to thirty sites.[4]

The camps were smaller and less expensive than Butlin's holiday camps.[3] Pontins had Bluecoats to entertain their guests, as opposed to Butlins Redcoats. Among the Bluecoats were Shane Richie, Bobby Davro, Bradley Walsh, Nick Wilton, Lee Mack and Carol Lee Scott (who later played "Grotbags").[3][5]

In 1978, the company was sold to Coral for £56 million. In 1980, Coral (including Pontins) was taken over by Bass Brewing, who sold Pontins in 1987 to a management buyout team led by Trevor Hemmings.[a] It was sold again in 1989, to Scottish & Newcastle.

Over the next ten years, the company closed or sold off multiple sites. In a three-year programme in the mid-1990s, the remaining camps were modernised. By 2000, the company was operating only eight camps, and was sold back to Hemmings. In 2008, the company was sold to Ocean Parcs for £46 million.[6] Wall Park holiday centre was not included in the sale.

In January 2009, Pontins announced the closure of its Hemsby holiday centre.[7] Pontins Blackpool in Squires Gate closed in October 2009 and was subsequently demolished after being acquired by property developer Persimmon,[8] leaving only five parks still operating under the Pontins brand.

Pontins headquarters were relocated to the Southport Holiday Park, Ainsdale in Southport. From the original Hemmings buy-out until then, the headquarters were at Sagar House in the village of Eccleston, Lancashire.

In September 2009, Pontins announced a five-year multi-million investment plan for the remaining five parks. Refurbishment work completed in 2010 included a new half-board restaurant and ice skating rink at the Prestatyn Sands Holiday Park, and a new roller skating rink at the Brean Sands Holiday Park. Proposals of re-building the Camber Sands and Southport Holiday Parks and doubling the capacity of the Pakefield Holiday Park were also made.

In November 2010, Pontins entered administrative receivership[3] and in January 2011, the company was bought out of receivership by Britannia Hotels.[1] In 2014, the former Pontins resort at Sand Bay was purchased by the group and it became the sixth resort to be operated under the new Pontins brand.

Direct discrimination against Irish people[edit]

In March 2021, the i newspaper revealed an internal Pontins document listing surnames associated with "undesirable guests", all being common Irish surnames.[9][10] This was done in order to filter out bookings from gypsies and travellers.[11] This was investigated by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) who found Pontins was "directly discriminating on the basis of race" and breached the Equality Act 2010.[12] The Britannia Hotel Group, which owns Pontins, signed an agreement with the EHRC promising to end the practice.[13]

Current resorts[edit]

Former and closed resorts[edit]

This is a list of some former Pontins resorts in both Ireland and the United Kingdom that have either closed or been sold off:

  • Barton Hall, Torquay, Devon; now a PGL site from 2010 (children's activity holidays) (formerly 3D Education)
  • Bay View, Brixham, Devon
  • Blackpool, Lancashire; (closed 2 October 2009); demolished and cleared, housing is now on the site
  • Bracklesham Bay, Chichester, West Sussex
  • Broadreeds, Selsey, West Sussex
  • Buckleigh Place, Westward Ho!, Devon
  • Dolphin Holiday Village, Brixham, Devon
  • Homelea Holiday Camp, Brixham, Devon
  • Hemsby, Norfolk; (closed January 2009); now owned by Northern Trust; as of 2013 it is back on the market[14]
  • Jersey Holiday Village, Portelet Bay, Jersey
  • Little Canada, Wootton, Isle of Wight; now a PGL site (children's activity holidays) (formerly 3D Education)
  • Lydstep Haven, near Tenby, South Wales
  • Middleton Tower, Heysham, Lancashire; site now a retirement village (opened 2007)[15]
  • Osmington Bay, Weymouth, Dorset; now a PGL site (children's activity holidays) (formerly 3D Education from 1995 to 2002)
  • Plemont Bay, Jersey
  • Pendine Sands, Carmarthenshire, South Wales
  • Riviera Chalet Hotel, Bowleaze Cove (near Preston), Weymouth, Dorset
  • Sands Hotel, Prestatyn, Denbighshire, North Wales
  • Sandy Bay, Northumberland
  • Seacroft, Hemsby, Norfolk, Opposite side of the road to the other Hemsby site. Since 1998, owned and run by Richardson's as Hemsby Beach Holiday Park
  • South Devon, Paignton, Devon
  • South Downs, Bracklesham Bay, near Chichester
  • St Mary's Bay, Brixham, Devon; now a Park Holidays UK site
  • Torbay Chalet Hotel, Paignton, Devon
  • Tower Beach, Prestatyn, Denbighshire, North Wales
  • Trabolgan, County Cork, Ireland; currently operating as "Trabolgan Holiday Village"
  • Wick Ferry, Christchurch, Dorset
  • Wall Park, Brixham, Left derelict for years once new owners closed the park. Now demolished and cleared for Devon housing.

In popular culture[edit]

  • The 1973 British film Holiday on the Buses was filmed at and set in the Prestatyn resort. A plaque was erected in 2004 at the main entrance gates (unchanged since the film was shot) to note this event.[16] The same venue hosts professional snooker each year. Prestatyn Sands also hosts the finals for the annual Brass Band Festival;[17] historically, the qualifying rounds were held in other Pontins centres.
  • The previous On The Buses film, Mutiny on the Buses (1972), depicted buses carrying adverts with the slogan "Go Pontinental", a chain of holiday villages set up in Continental Europe.[2]
  • In November 2020, Liverpool-based indie band Courting released their fourth single 'Popshop!' which mentions the resort (in particular the Southport site) in its lyrics saying: "take the lads on tour, we'll go to Pontins."


  1. ^ Hemmings construction firm had originally built the holiday centre at Southport.


  1. ^ a b "Pontin's holiday firm bought by Britannia Hotel group". BBC News. 28 January 2011. Retrieved 4 June 2019.
  2. ^ a b c Barker, Dennis (4 October 2000). "Obituary: Sir Fred Pontin". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d Finch, Julia; Treanor, Jill (13 November 2010). "Pontin's falls into administration as fond memories fail to save firm". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 March 2019.
  4. ^ "Pontins to get 'Disney' makeover". BBC News. 6 February 2011. Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  5. ^ "Grotbags actress Carol Lee Scott dies aged 74". BBC News. 6 July 2017. Retrieved 8 March 2019.
  6. ^ "Pontin's bought by former boss". The Guardian. 27 March 2008. Retrieved 27 March 2008.
  7. ^ "Pontin's to close holiday centre". BBC News. 5 January 2009. Retrieved 10 February 2009.
  8. ^ "Blackpool holiday camp to close". Blackpool Gazette.
  9. ^ "Pontins used 'undesirables list' of Irish surnames". BBC News. 2 March 2021. Retrieved 2 March 2021.
  10. ^ Booth, Robert (2 March 2021). "Secret Pontins blacklist prevented people with Irish surnames from booking". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 March 2021.
  11. ^ "Pontins used 'undesirable guests' list to discriminate against Gypsies and travellers, EHRC says". Sky News. Retrieved 2 March 2021.
  12. ^ "Pontins used 'undesirables list' of Irish surnames". BBC News. 2 March 2021. Retrieved 2 March 2021.
  13. ^ "Pontins used blacklist of common Irish surnames to keep Traveller families out of holiday parks". inews.co.uk. 2 March 2021. Retrieved 2 March 2021.
  14. ^ "Property". Commercial Search UK. Archived from the original on 17 February 2013.
  15. ^ "Middleton Village officially opened". The Visitor, Morecambe.
  16. ^ "Holiday on the Buses Event 2013".
  17. ^ "Restaurants". Archived from the original on 11 February 2009.

External links[edit]