Brighton & Hove Clarion Cycling Club  



Contributed by Michael Walker of Unison.

Seaside camp marks its centenary

Britain's first family holiday camp founded by a political activist celebrates its centenary this year. Dodd's Socialist Holiday Camp in Caister, Norfolk, was opened on 3 May 1906 by John Dodd who was keen to promote his socialist ideals.

Accommodation was in tents but alcohol and gambling were banned and the highlight of the week was a Sunday lecture on the labour movement.

The camp, now called Caister Holiday Park, is run by Haven Holidays.

John Dodd, a former grocer and founding member of the Independent Labour Party, also belonged to one of the socialist Clarion cycling groups. It was whilst pedalling through Norfolk that he spotted a substantial house for sale in Ormesby Road, Caister, backing onto the beach.

No improper language
He bought it, complete with six acres of land, put up a few bell tents and invited some of his trade unionist friends to come and stay.

Despite sleeping on straw and sharing a communal cold water standpipe the seaside holiday proved popular and before long the number of tents grew.

Apart from the ban on alcohol and gambling there was no 'improper' language and no noise after 2300 GMT.

The men had to pick vegetables from adjoining gardens and women were expected to cook. Entertainments included sing songs around the camp fire and story telling.

By 1912 Dodd had bought more land and built rows of wooden chalets. He also changed the name to Caister Holiday Camp.

The camp remained open during World War One and was extended to more than 30 acres with an area for dancing and its own railway station.

From 1939 to 1946 the camp was closed and used by the army, but by 1951 it was up and running again.

In the 1970s more than 4,000 holidaymakers were watching stars such as Ronnie Corbett, Des O'Connor, Frankie Vaughan, Roy Castle and Roy Hudd.

^ top