Information and article supplied by Shirley Lewis. Used with kind permission
One of the important aspects of any holiday is the care of children and Butlin's has provided this service for many years. In 1946 William Butlin approached Anne Hayter and asked if she would be willing to organise childcare for those under two years of age, at the new camp he was opening in Clacton. The following year he asked that she extend this service to Skegness and Filey. She learnt by her mistakes and by 1950 had put a plan to Mr. Butlin for a comprehensive Nursery Service for Under 5's, which was to be the format for the coming years.
Only three people had overall running of the Nursery Services, which by 1967 had risen to nine Camps.
|Anne Hayter||1947 to 1964|
|Rosina Hosking||1965 to 1969|
|Shirley Lewis||1970 to 1986|
Originally Anne Hayter reported directly to Billy Butlin himself, but when she retired Billy Butlin asked Mr. Paul Winterforde-Young to oversee the Nursery service and he was then to appoint the Management of the service. Rosina was in control during the Nurseries heydays when there were nine centres and all children under two years of age were fed in their own Infant Dining Room, and also left in the Nurseries care whilst the parents had their own meals.
The number of children cared for by the service in the early days is quite interesting especially as there were then only five holiday camps, Ayr, Clacton, Filey, Pwllheli and Skegness.
For the 1958 season Butlin's produced their brochure, as usual, on 'How they cared for Children' during their stay. Descriptions were given on the use of the Bottle Preparation Room, the Infant Feeding Centre, playtime and also the ever-popular Evening Chalet patrol. Other things were advertised, such as the pram and pushchair hire, cots, and also they advised parents that they were able to supply babies orange juice and cod liver oil.
There are some other interesting facts:
* The Nursery Laundress would wash up to 300 napkins per day
* 200 - 400 parents could register nightly for the Chalet Patrol service
* There were between 80 to 100 high chairs in an Infants dining room to enable parents to feed the under two's
* Over 200 babies under the age of two could be cared for on a centre, per week
* Their 'Bonnie Baby' and 'Mother and Child' competitions were held weekly at which the Nursery Matron and Camp Padre were two of the judges.
In the early days the Nursery staff comprised a Matron, Deputy, Senior Nurses, Nursery Cook, Domestics, Laundress and Handyman. However eventually the Centres stopped providing food within the nurseries and Catering took over this function. The handyman role was taken over by the Accommodation Department, and of course with the advent of disposable nappies the laundress became dispensable. So during the 1960s each Nursery could have in the region of 30 staff per week to provide all the services but by the 1980's it was more a care and play service and only 10 to 12 staff were required.
According to a 1961 brochure for Butlin's the service for infants stated: -
'Young children are happy at Butlin's. And why shouldn't they be with a whole world of playthings surrounding them and trained nurses to watch over them. Infants in arms are welcome at Butlin's and abundant arrangements are made for their needs. Bottle preparation rooms, launderettes, quiet crèches for those afternoon naps; we even wash the nappies free. Older children, at the toddling and walking stage have special feeding centres with well planned menus and of course, the watchful care of the Butlin's staff nurses, games rooms and all kinds of amusements and interests to keep them happy all day long.'
At night chalet patrols were on duty so that parents were free to join in the life of the camp with the comforting knowledge that the children were safe and that parents could be contacted instantly should their presence be needed.
As times changed, not only within the organisation but also socially and nationally, some of the amenities at the centre also had to change. Through all these years the Nursery uniform remained the same - a blue dress, with cloaks and caps.
Thanks also to Sylvia Endacott.
Nursery Photos - Click on each image for a larger view