Coordinates: Potters Resort is a modern five star holiday village situated on the coastline border of Norfolk and Suffolk, in Hopton-on-Sea. Potters was the first permanent holiday camp in the United Kingdom, opening its doors for the first time in 1920. Nearly a century on and through four generations of the Potter Family, it remains the last privately owned holiday village of its kind and in 2002, became the first to receive the English Tourist Board's five star award for holiday villages, since held for 16 consecutive years.
|Founded||1 January 1920Hemsby)(first site,|
|Headquarters||Hopton-on-Sea, Norfolk, England|
|Owners||The Potter Family|
Number of employees
In 1913, solicitors' clerk Herbert Potter won £500 in a Sunday Chronicle newspaper competition. Inspired by the friendly camaraderie he enjoyed himself when visiting holiday camps with tents, he made plans to build his own. He was called up to serve in World War I and after surviving the trenches and the Battle of the Somme, he returned and purchased land in nearby Hemsby which would be the original site of the first permanent and mixed use holiday camp in the United Kingdom. Herbert and his brother Arthur Potter opened in 1920 with wooden huts as standard.
Upon moving down the coast to bare land in Hopton-on-Sea in 1924, the original Hemsby site was sold. The proceeds were split with Arthur moving to Cornwall, himself establishing Duporth Holiday Camp. Potters would however remain in its new location by the railway line in Hopton-on-Sea for 10 years run by Herbert and his wife, Edith. During this pioneering decade, many other holidays camps began to crop up along the Norfolk and Suffolk coast, a total of fourteen within a 10-mile radius of Hopton-on-Sea, five of which were in the village itself. In 1934, Herbert left the reins of the camp to his daughter, Rosa, and her new husband, Lesley Groom, the local policeman, having purchased a third site from Mr Colman who himself operated a successful mustard business. This third plot was in a seaside location as was fast becoming the trend. Herbert Potter promoted both sites at this time, although the camp located at the railway would later be renamed 'Grooms'. The seaside camp known then as Hopton Beach Camp and operated by Herbert and son, Hector Potter, is where Potters Resort remains to this day.
During World War II many holiday camps were requisitioned by the army and the buildings and huts at Potters were mostly dismantled for firewood to keep the soldiers warm in the winter. Following the war many of those pioneering families were unable to reopen their holiday camps. However, Herbert, along with son Hector and his wife Vera, set about rebuilding the camp from scratch. Their son, Brian, was just a small child at the time, born shortly before the war began in 1940.
In the celebratory period following the war, there was a boom in British seaside holidays and Potters once again became a thriving holiday camp having re-invested in its facilities, including building one of the first outdoor swimming pools on the east coast in 1958. Its success would be challenged once again in the 1960s by the overseas package holiday, during which time many remaining holiday camps closed in the face of stiff competition from sunnier alternatives. However, with Brian Potter becoming more involved in the family business with partner Judy, Potters again re-invested, creating more indoor facilities to counteract the challenges of the British weather. During this time, fourth generation Jane and John were born to Brian and Judy Potter in 1967 and 1969 respectively, their names chosen via guest votes in the dining room.
In the 1970s and 1980s cheaper, self-catering holidays emerged, one of the first being Hopton Holiday Village. During this wave of competitive new business models, Potters too redefined what it chose to offer. It was throughout this third generation, led by Brian and Judy Potter that the resort grew from a seasonal, family holiday camp to a unique leisure resort with shows and cabaret style entertainment every night, accompanied by inclusive meals, daytime entertainment and a range of leisure and sports facilities.
Any remaining chalets had been replaced by brick built bungalows, the outdoor swimming pool became an indoor health and fitness club, a new entrance and reception area was created along with a large sports hall and professional entertainment was heavily invested in offering a unique selling point and allowing Potters to expand their season. Despite the resort's first ever weekend break falling upon the great storm of 1987 with guests having to be moved to neighbouring sites due to maintenance issues, further breaks were added to the calendar and ongoing investment continued.
In 1993, the Bowlers Bar was built along with six indoor bowls rinks, in addition to the two original rinks built in the 1980s. Ten Pin bowling was added in 1994 but it was between 1996 and 1998 that the resort's main facilities would be changed for the long term future. The Bamboo Bar was knocked down and replaced by the Terrace Bar, The Gallery Lounge and International Arena (with a further six bowls rinks) was opened and, during the resort's closed period in 1996 and 1997 respectively, the old theatre and restaurant were knocked down, replaced by the Atlas Theatre in 14 weeks, and the Garden Restaurant in 12 weeks.
The sport of bowls became a key part of Potters' eventual year round success, with thousands of retired holidaymakers enjoying the combination of this social sport whilst holidaying in the typically quieter seasons. As Potters' link with bowls grew, so did their investment in the sport and subsequently their relationship with the World Bowls Tour. In 1999 the resort hosted the World Indoor Bowls Championships for the first time, having moved from its long standing home in Preston. The event remains at Potters to this day with many thousands from the world over flocking to Hopton-on-Sea for 17 days in January. 1999 would also see the first year that Potters Resort was open all year round and the opening of the Hotel with 86 rooms.
Brian's son John Potter became managing director in 2000 and the re-investment would continue throughout the next decade with the introduction of outdoor bowls rinks, an activity centre, bungalow and Palms refurbishment, Hotel and Atlas Theatre extensions and improvements as well as the opening of Zest, Potters' conferencing and events centre hosting weddings, conferences and corporate events. It is thought that a total of £49m was invested in the resort between 1988 and 2013.
In 2004, Potters Holidays was launched offering packages in Paphos, Cyprus. Some years later, Potters No Fly Cruising was also launched with any cruise available to book from any UK port.
The period was not without its challenges; the Bowlers Bar was completely flooded in September 2007 following a record rainfall in the area. A year later in November 2008, the laundry and maintenance workshop was destroyed by a fire.
In 2013, Brian Potter was awarded with an MBE for his long standing service in the tourism industry. The resort was renamed to its current name, Potters Resort (from Potters Leisure Resort) with the new strapline 'Quality Time Together'. Brian Potter MBE passed away in November 2014, leaving behind his wife Judy, daughter Jane, son and existing MD John, John's partner Celia and two grandchildren; Amelia and Harry Potter. In his memory, the Potter Family formed the Potters Friends Foundation in December 2014 to help local worthy causes, continuing his legacy and charitable efforts.
By summer 2015, Palms Health & Fitness had seen a full scale refurbishment, a brand new Reception area opened and Bowlers Bar updated. The GameZone has also been added with Ten Pin Bowling and children's play area.
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Potters Resort has a number of areas where visitors can eat. Guests staying on resort will typically eat their breakfast, lunch and evening meal in the Garden or Gallery Restaurants, plus have the option of a midnight dish in the Terrace Bar. The Black Rock Grill is also available Wednesday to Sunday and, whilst separated from the main complex, is still on resort. This is a very popular restaurant where guests can order their starter and dessert from the menu, but the main course consisting of various meats and fishes amongst a number of side dishes, is brought to the table along with a volcanic hot rock, on which guests can cook to their own taste. Guests can also eat at the Sunday Carvery in Zest.
The Atlas Theatre
The Atlas Theatre is the venue for evening entertainment, open 365 nights of the year. There has been considerable investment in this facility, which now boasts a retractable stage, rear stage projection, two large stage screens, live band visibility and sound and lighting comparable to any major West End theatre. In 2011, The Atlas Theatre was extended with work taking place during the day and overnight, so not to interrupt the evening's show. The theatre now has downstairs and balcony seating for over 1,000 guests and bars on both levels, with the downstairs bar approximately 100 feet in length. The Potters Theatre Company perform here nightly, except when a star act is on the bill, including names such as Peter Andre, Joe Longthorne, Brian Conley, Chas and Dave, The Overtones, Collabro and Jane McDonald amongst others. The Atlas Theatre is also often used for conferences and events. To see what star acts are performing at Potters Resort click here.
In addition to the Atlas Theatre, guests can make use of the Bowlers Bar, Gallery Lounge and Terrace Bar, in any of which there may be daytime activities and late night entertainment.
Sports & Leisure
Guests can make use of many facilities including Palms Health & Fitness, which offers two swimming pools, a sauna, steam room and fully equipped gym. Aphrodite and The Hair Studio are also next door, offering beauty treatments and products. You can play a number of sports at Potters Resort including golf, tennis, bowls, squash, table tennis, badminton, archery and more. Potters also run a full daytime programme which includes quizzes, demonstrations and classes.
Potters Resort was the United Kingdom's first permanent holiday camp, with visitors staying in timber huts as opposed to other camps at that time which were mostly under canvas. Over time the outside accommodation has developed through wooden chalets to brick built rooms, up to the present day, where guests stay in a choice of 260 bungalows, catering for parties of all sizes.
Potters Resort expanded in 1999, when building their first hotel rooms on empty land around the outside of the resort's existing facilities. Originally 86 rooms, this was extended further in 2010, adding a further 26 rooms. Rooms vary from Premier Rooms to Penthouse Suites.
- Gavin Caney. "Photo Gallery: The World Indoor Bowls Championship at Potters Resort that Brian would have been proud of". Eastern Daily Press.
- "Review: Potters resort, Norfolk". BelfastTelegraph.co.uk.
- "Customer Happiness Score® | Because in business, who cares wins". www.customerhappinessscore.com. Retrieved 2017-10-13.