Friday, 24 April 2009

Butlins Badges


When booking in on arrival at Butlin's (camp or hotel) each camper was issued with an enamel badge to wear for the duration of their holiday. The badge granted the camper readmission to the site should they take a trip out during their stay. Badges were worn with pride. Campers kept badges from previous holidays and wore them all on a ribbon.

Each year a different badge was produced for each camp with the name of the camp and the year forming part of the design.

The badges were made of die-stamped metal (usually brass), highly polished or chrome plated with the brightly coloured design made of vitreous enamel using a process similar to Champlevé but the troughs being stamped in rather than carved.

Each camp had at least one badge each year, with most of the larger camps having several colour variations throughout the season for improved security. Occasionally, two different designs would be used in one season.

The badges were issued every year from 1936 until 1967.

Each badge was hand-made by jewellery manufacturers in London, Dublin or in Birmingham's 'Jewellery Quarter'. The quality and beauty of the badges has ensured that many survive as heirlooms and are very collectable.

A collection of one badge per camp per year would total 192 badges. However, the myriad colour variations and additional 'special' badges would take the collection to over 1200 badges (although there is no definitive list of all variations).

Additional badges included 'Second Week' badges, Staff badges, 'Concessionaire' badges (for visiting tradesmen - these badges are distinguished by the absence of enamel), Committee badges, Christmas badges, Beaver Club badges, Reunion badges and many others. Badges were not issued during Second World War years of 1940 to 1945 as the camps were taken over by the government and used as accommodation for war service personnel.

Notable badges include 'Skegness 1936' (the first badge issued) and 'Filey 1945', which features the 'V for Victory' in its design and is an exception to gap of the war years as the camp was the first to reopen after the war just in time for the end of the season in August 1945.

Barry Island 1965 is the 'Holy Grail' of Butlin's badges: the camp didn't open that year as planned. The badges were manufactured but never issued; some examples survive.

A few years ago I started to pick up these little badges. After I gained a couple I was hooked.This blog will run alongside my main REVIEWED AT RANDOM blog and whereas that one will chronicle my media adventure this is a more physical journal.

I currently have around 50 badges, mainly Butlins and I am growing this collection actively. Some of these badges are works of art in themselves and I am enjoying the chase as much as the capture.

Here are some of my early conquests.

DSCF1012 DSCF1058

DSCF1026 DSCF1051

Wish me luck.