Plemont Holiday Camp

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Plemont Holiday Camp


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Plemont Holiday Camp first opened in 1934 and was finally demolished in 2015 after it had been acquired by the National Trust for Jersey, with financial support from the States. The extensive site on the north-west coast was returned to its natural state


Built in the grounds of the old Plemont Hotel the camp first opened in 1934 as The Jubilee Holiday Camp. It was substantially damaged by fire just three years later. During the second world war the invading Germans occupied the site.

Plemont Hotel in its heyday

Timeline

From the Jersey Evening Post 2015

  • 1874: Developers build the Plémont Hotel at the site.
  • 1930s: The hotel is demolished and replaced with the Jersey Jubilee Holiday Camp [This is incorrect. Photographs of construction work in 1936 show clearly that the hotel remained as part of the camp complex, until it was destroyed by fire in 1938 Ed]
  • 1946: Following the Occupation, the camp reopens as Parkin's Luxury Holiday Camp.
  • 1961: The camp is sold and remodelled, becoming Pontin's Holiday Village and later Plémont Holiday Village, providing amenities for up to 400 holidaymakers.
  • 1998: Developer Dandara applies to put 117 homes in the area. The then Senator Pierre Horsfall calls for the States to buy the land and return it to nature.
  • 1999: Dandara's application is refused.
  • 2001: The site closes its doors as a tourist resort for good.
  • 2002 to 2006: Various housing schemes are proposed,all rejected.
  • 2005: Plémont Estates (Trevor Hemmings' company) buys the land for £4.85 million.
  • 2006 to 2012: Various planning applications are made, with Mr Hemmings' plans to put 28 homes on the land becoming the subject of a public planning inquiry.
  • 2012: The Chief Minister lodges a proposal to buy the land for the public and sell it to the National Trust for Jersey. The Trust, meanwhile, launches a fresh campaign to save the land from development.
  • November 2012: Plans for the 28-home development are approved.
  • December 2012: Chief Minister Ian Gorst's proposal to buy the land using States money is defeated by one vote.
  • 2014: The National Trust for Jersey reveals it has reached a deal with the developer to buy the land for £7.15 million.
  • Summer 2014: The States approve Senator Sir Philip Bailhache's proposition to pay half of the agreed sale price, with the trust paying the rest.
  • September 2014: Demolition begins at the site.
  • 2015: Headland reopens to the public when demolition and reinstatement work are complete

Stanley Parkin

The remains of the 11 acre camp were purchased by circus impresario Stanley Parkin in 1946, and rebuilt and renamed as Parkins Holiday Camp.

It was sold to Pontins in 1961 for £375,000 and during the late 1960s it was extensively rebuilt with ten new two-storey apartment blocks replacing the old chalets (eight for campers, two for staff). Billy Butlin served on the board after his retirement to Jersey.

Closed at the end of 2000 the camp sat derelict and abandoned while plans were put forward to cover the site with housing. Following fierce opposition the decision was taken to demolish the remains in 2015 and return the site to nature.

Pontins

This was the first of two holiday camps acquired by Pontins in Jersey. It was purchased in 1961 for £375,000 (equivalent to over £6 million in today's money) and was completely rebuilt with all new chalets and buildings.

The first holiday camp to be built at Plemont was the Jersey Jubilee Holiday camp, opened in 1934. Constructed mostly of wood, it provided a very basic level of accommodation but, more importantly, gave people what they wanted, which was a hassle free, all inclusive holiday.

When war broke out in 1939 the camp closed, and when Jersey became occupied by the Germans it was taken over by them. The camp was used as a base for their troops, who damaged the camp to the extent that it was going to cost a considerable amount of money to restore.

The Parkin family continued to run the holiday camp after the war, but in 1960 they put it up for sale, and it was bought by Fred Pontin, who had long wanted a holiday camp in the Channel Islands. The States of Jersey agreed that having a Pontins Holiday Camp would be a major boost for the island's tourism industry.

Pontins demolished most of the original camp and constructed a new one within the footprints of the old. They constructed new chalets and a new entertainment building, and reopened under the Pontins name in the 1960s. The camp ran like this up until the end of the 2000 season, when the owners of Pontins, then Scotish and Newcastle, decided they wanted to invest their money in the camps in the UK. Plemont, along with the Portelet sister camp, closed and was left empty.

Post-demolition

Bailiwick Express, 15 May 2015 It involved a protracted legal and political battle, years of campaigning and £3.5m of taxpayers' money but the Plémont headland has finally been cleared and is now open to the public. Today, workmen who have demolished the former Pontin's holiday camp left the site for the final time, leaving a headland that the National Trust of Jersey, which owns the area, hopes will be a magnet for flora, fauna and people for generations to come.

"Finally I can say that after 14 years of campaigning, we have achieved the perfect result - Plémont is open for business," said Christopher Harris, president of the National Trust for Jersey. "I urge the public to go and explore. I particularly recommend a viewing point that we have created along a new path that must offer one of the most beautiful views in Jersey. The Island has its fair share of beauty spots but this is a new one which must rank up there with the finest.

"Returning Plémont to nature is a significant achievement. It is important not just for the Island but nationally and on a European scale. It will get Jersey noticed, very much for the right reasons." As well as overseeing the clearing of the site, the National Trust has also built a play area for toddlers and 17 extra parking spaces. A large area remains fenced off for grass to grow and, in time, the trust hopes to restore the traditional field pattern, established in the Middle Ages.

The National Trust was able to buy the former holiday camp after the States agreed to provide half of the money needed to buy the derelict site from its previous owner, Trevor Hemmings, whose company had previously applied to build 28 houses on the headland. States Members gave £3.5m, provided by the proceeds of crime, and the National Trust raised the same amount through donations. It also spent more money clearing and restoring the site.

1950, and after the war the camp is back in full use, although still in need of modernisation

Recycling

From Jersey Evening Post, April 2015 Standing derelict for more than ten years, the buildings left on the Plémont headland blighted the area. Demolition work began in September and the final stage of site clearance is now under way. The question is: what do you do with hundreds of tonnes of stone, metal, wood and other materials left over?

The trust has reused or recycled what materials it can, with plans for the salvageable parts of the former development to be used in the upkeep of the organisation's historic properties. Trust president Christopher Harris said that recycling was part of the organisation's philosophy, and formed part of its 12-pledge plan formulated in 2011 to find ways of helping the environment.

'What we could salvage, we have done. We've also kept old papers from the holiday camp, including some of the old holiday money they used to issue. All that is also going to be kept and we are going to work our way through the documents to decide if we want to set up a display or offer them to the Jersey Archive.
'There was an amount of copper piping which was recycled, and we also had some large pieces of slate, which are ideal for fire hearths. Those will be reused in National Trust for Jersey buildings.'

The organisation's joiner, Tony Gray, who began working for the Trust in October, helped to dismantle two damaged snooker tables at Plémont and went on to use their wood to make a table and a bowl which he gave to the trust's council. He said:

'Behind the cushes on the edge of the snooker tables there's a top section that is made from strips of oak. They are bolted down every foot. I stripped them off the table, took the rubber behind the cush off, cleaned the strips, took the screws and nails out and chopped in between the holes.
'I ended up with a dozen pieces of wood that were about a foot long. I planed them off and stuck them together in three layers. The turning took four or five hours, and I probably spent a couple of hours in my lunchtimes reclaiming the timber to start with. It took a while, but it was really satisfying.'

Mr Gray, who has been a joiner for 35 years, has also created a work table from wood reclaimed from the snooker tables.

Granite

Granite from the buildings is now in temporary storage for the summer until a more permanent home can be found. It is being held until the trust needs to use it for other restoration or repair projects. Immediate plans for the stone include using some of it to repair historic properties belonging to the trust. Some of the granite will be cut into cobbles and other bits will be used as facing stone at the farm.

Rubble and asbestos

Most of the material taken from the demolition of buildings at Plémont has gone to Transport and Technical Services at La Collette. 'The material consists of aggregate and breeze blocks and so forth,' said Mr Harris. 'That gets ground up and reused by TTS in things like roads, recasting breeze blocks – it's all recycled.'

And like many older properties, the once-popular holiday resort contained a large quantity of asbestos. About 100 tonnes of asbestos-contaminated material was removed from the site by a specialist team. Exclusion zones were set up at Plémont while the work was carried out and certain buildings had plastic draped over them to stop potentially dangerous fibres escaping while it was being removed.

Construction work in the 1930s

Jubilee Camp and the Parkins years

The Pontins years

The end: Dereliction and demolition

Camp badges from the Parkins and Pontins eras

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