The catchment area for the Essex Coastline was mainly families from the East end of London. With their unique sense of humour it was often lots of fun, occasionally very frustrating and mentally taxing all at the same time.
The industry itself was extremely competitive in the early days. Lots of Caravan Parks, lots of Caravans For Sale and a general policy of ‘a caravan owner comes first’. Customers were very important to park operators. No such thing as a time limit on your period of stay.
Caravan sizes ranged from between 20ft - 30ft long and 7ft - 9ft 6 wide and the only direct Service supply was Electricity. So it was a trip to the toilet/shower block when necessary. Holiday caravanning was far more economical back then and the camaraderie that was generated in those days on holiday parks was special.
Parks generally opened on 1st March and closed the 31st October. The first Bank Holiday being Easter usually meant the parks were full. Owners had been visiting their caravans from 1st March preparing for their Easter break. However, there were always ongoing issues with trying to keep the customers happy. Washing lines were one thing - probably still are ! It was either a long line between two caravans or the rotary line. I recall one east end gent coming into the office saying and I quote ‘I didn’t spend a few grand on a van to sit and watch next doors knickers going round all day’. Other complaints were ‘I could well get
decapitated coming home from the pub in the dark with next doors washing line’.
Car Parking was also an issue. To avoid cars being parked between caravans - car parking areas were provided. I recall another east end gent saying ‘the carpark is so far from the caravan me and her in doors had to get a cab back to it’ with a smile on his face.
As we moved through the 70’s into the 80’s the demand for fully serviced caravans was increasing. Although providing adequate water supply was proving difficult for the park operator. I recall one gent advising me that the water pressure was so low he had to get under the caravan to get a shower!
Other issues that come to mind - a twelve year old boy came into the office and said ‘excuse me mister - I caught a snake outside my caravan’. I asked ‘where is it now’. He replied ‘in this jar’ as he produced a pickle jar with a full grown adder staring back in disgust. Another quote...
There is a lot to be said about the relaxed and positive atmosphere that existed in those days due mainly to the importance placed on the caravan owner bythe park operator. Sadly, not so much today. Things have moved on. Not always for the greater good.
File No.7 I didn’t half get a shock from my electric the other day Not that dodgy toaster again?! No, I mean the bill. Oh, right. Bigger than you were expecting? Much bigger. What was yours like? It was a sort of invoice thing with a counterfoil. How much was it? Well, that’s a bit personal, isn’t it? Not at all. What was your unit rate? Same as previous. Same as previous?! This is outrageous! Well, it had gone up a bit. What about the standing charge? 32 amps. You know what I mean… Wasn’t billed this time. Alright, how about congestion charge? Congestion charge?! That is shocking! Climate levy. Well, they can’t pass that on. This could all flare up. Your circuit-breaker should catch that. I’m going to demand to see the park’s bill. Good luck with that. You might meet some resistance! Well what do you suggest? I’d buy some batteries, mate