I mention in a previous submission to this section (see here) that I last visited Filey in 2001 to say my good byes. I thought I would share with you my experiences of that final visit.
Filey had been my families twice yearly holiday destination for all of the 70's and for a few of us the early 80's too. The camp closed and became just a memory.
In 2001 I travelled back to my native north east to spend some time with my critically ill mother. Sadly Mum passed away in September 2001 and my family gathered for her funeral. Many of the family members that came that day I had not seen since my childhood and not since our Filey holidays. I mentioned this to some of my cousins and it was amazing to see how their faces lit up at the mere mention of the word Filey.
I was surprised how much these holidays has meant to everyone and surprised how much the memories of them had affected me.
Two days after the funeral I drove back to my home in South Yorkshire. Without intending too I found myself driving along the coast road past Whitby, Scarborough and before I knew it I was almost at Filey. It was miles out of my way and to this day I can not honestly say that I intended to drive that way.
I pulled up at what was once Butlins Filey. No row of flags greeted me, no sight of the big wheel, just a mound of earth two foot high to deter me from exploring further.
I gingerly walked in. The reception building had gone, as had the Viennese Ballroom, a small caravan stood in their place. The roller-skating rink was still there and I stood for a while looking over the damaged surface daring myself to go further into the camp.
I decided to explore again, like I had as a child. I actually became excited at the prospect. I walked past what remained of the outdoor pool. It was still full of water, very black water and knee high grass had claimed the surrounding paths.
Part of the indoor pool remained and I took a piece of souvenir glass from the broken viewing windows.
I wandered over to where the fun fair had stood and looked around, no mad mouse, no tempest, no dodgems, just a concrete patch that seemed ever so small now, here and there littered with broken bingo boards. Coloured floor tiles marked the area where the amusements had stood. The totem poles that flanked the entrance long gone.
I ventured on to the remaining chalets. Some had no roofs left; some were stacked with blue sinks and bath tubs and here and there were stacks of broken beds. I picked my way through the remians trying to remember if I had ever stayed in any of these remaining chalets.
I found myself on the playing felids and looked back at the remains. There was little left but to a seasoned visitor it was easy to pick out the old land marks and easier still to picture the past, the sights, the smells and the sounds that had made this place so special once.
I took a slow walk back to the outdoor pool and sat for a while on one of the old fountains. I was staring to feel really down now. I had spent weeks in this place as a child with never a sad moment, yet this time I had been there an hour or so and had rarely felt lower.
I literally said goodbye as I stepped back over the mound of soil and got back into my car. As if to finally draw a line under Filey, and to provide a soundtrack to my black mood the song that came on the radio as I pulled away was 'Wonderful Land' by the Shadows. It was one of the songs that was always on Filey's tannoy in the 70's and one of my Mum's favourites.
As I drove away I did something I had never done when we left there from my childhood holidays, I started to cry.