South Denes caravans

In search of old films

By Peter Smith

Its been a few months since I last wrote,but has anyone found any old films of the old caravan site from 60/s-70/s.I've looked all over the web can't find anything.I'm sure there are many out there who would love to re-capture those great times.I've seen some pictures of the new outer harbour...but does anyone remember the cafe that used to be there? We used to walk there from ...B block ...early in the morning have a coffee, pick up a newspaper from the little wooden shop then back to the caravan for eggs and bacon, perfect start to the day.

This page was added by Peter Smith on 04/12/2008.
Comments about this page

hi there,we used to holiday on the south denes from 1960-1972 twelve years on the trot,and have happy memories,i remember the beach cafe on the cornor,happy times,and the small shops dotted about the camp.as well as the paper vans ect,two years ago i was involed in the itv programme the way we were on holiday which showed footage of us on the south denes from film taken from our cine camera,looking back they was one of the best times of our lives,so sad now to see how the years have treated the south denes,but they can't wash away all the happy memories.

By j brooks
On 16/12/2008

i saw that programme,i went back to south denes a couple of years ago and stood in what used to be the old bike shop and the camp office and closed my eyes.ah really happy days,i hope one day some films appear.

By peter smith
On 29/12/2008

I can remember a lot about the Great Yarmouth area. I have some happy times and I can also remember (going to) see a lot of shows and going to the wresling at the old Marina when it was all open.

We used to stay at South Denes Caravan Park and we used to get up in the morning and walk though the streets to the old Birds Eye Factory. Then getting the ferry across to Gorleston side and going to the bakers on the High Street, just at the top of Ice House Hill and buying just baked hot rolls and Do-nuts that were still hot when we got back to the caravan.

Another thing that we used to look forward to up there, as we could not get it here where we live, was to go down Market Place to the butchers shop there (the shop is no longer there thanks to a fire in that row some years ago now). In those days, the Late 1960s and 1970s, you could still buy the local potted meat and as that market is the only place where they sold the hot peas when we got of the train we used to make start for there.

In those days they had a bus on a Saturday that used to run between the train station and the Holiday camp and another bus that used to run between North and South Denes along the Marine Parade. I can give you a lot more things that I remember about the area.

By Beryl Smith
On 21/01/2009

I also remember the caravans stand pipes having to go to the camp office for caller gas. I remember the buses that ran to the station on Saturdays. The bakers shop in Gorleston would be Mattes, there were a few of these in Great Yarmouth. There was also Erie electronics factory on the South Denens industrial site

By kathleen kennedy
On 02/03/2009

I came across this site whilst doing some background research into the South Denes caravan park. I saw the site from the other way - not as a holiday maker but my parents owned two caravans on this site and let them out during the summer. Cannot find too many orginal records about this caravan site

By Ann-Margaret Barber
On 04/03/2010

Take a look at the Billy Fury film.This was filmed on location in Yarmouth in the early 60`s.Billy is singing one of his songs down at the Harbours Mouth and you can see all the caravans in the background.

By peter halls
On 04/05/2010

Hello all... looks like a superb site. I've not looked through it all as yet, but will do in due course. Having read this page I would love to know why (other than for the Outer Harbour project) was South Denes caravan camp - the best camp on the East Coast in my opinion - was allowed to go to the dogs? I had family holidays there every year (sometimes twice) from my year of birth (1967) through to 1990-ish. I loved every minute of it and would love to see it returned to its former glory - even in some small nostalgic part. What's the likelihood of planning permission being granted for say using two 'blocks' (the old A Block and B Block perhaps) for a new camp with modern caravans and new facilities? A small scaled-down version of Haven or Pontins, for families, perhaps? It is as far as I know (and I'd be happy to stand corrected) the ONLY camp that was actually directly next to the beach where you could look out of your caravan window (if you were on the front row) and see the beach, and thus your children playing safely. I look forward to any replies. Thanks, Mark in Coventry.

By Coventry Mark
On 04/05/2010

I COULD NOT AGREE MORE WITH MARK FROM COVENTRY IF ONLY. WE AS A FAMILY HAD SOME GREAT HOLIDAYS ON THIS SITE, SO MANY HAPPY MEMORIES. I AM TAKING MY FAMILY BACK TO YARMOUTH TOMMORROW, JUST FOR A LONG WEEKEND. WE ARE STAYING AT THE HAVEN CAMP AT NORTH DENES END OF TOWN, THIS SEEMS TO BE THE NEXT BEST THING NOW AS THE SOUTH DENES CAMP NO LONGER EXISTS. WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO THE BIG GIANT IN THE FUN FAIR? ITS NOW BEEN REPLACED WITH A GREAT OGOR! WHY? ANY IDEAS ANYONE. ANYWAY HERES TO GREAT YARMOUTH AND ALL HER HAPPY MEMORIES.

By TONY
On 14/05/2010

Ii went to yarmouth 2 years ago and was very dissapointed at the giant. I as a child used to go to South Denes every year and have loads of fond memories that will live with me. Nothing nicer than getting up in the morning right on the beachfront and lighting up the lamps at night.

By samantha price
On 14/06/2010

Great yarmouth is my second home,after going there for the past 36 yrs!!  I missed 1 year thats it...I'm deciding to get a 9 man tent and camping.  The things I miss are the shops on South Denes ,chippys n amusments with my younger brothers what holidays are made of.  What a shame they cleared the vans,perfect memories we love it still....

By Goron Dodd
On 28/07/2010

South Denes really was a special place, grotty but special. What a fantastic location for a caravan site right on the beach. I used to go from the year I was born to when it closed, for 4 weeks a year, spread out from Whitsun to Ocotober. I wish I took/had more photo's of the site. If you look on Youtube you can see a film of the scooter rally in the late 80's which shows part of the site. One thing I do rememebr is how unhelpful the people in the main camp shop were, well dam right rude really. The other shop nearer Gorleston end was a lovely friendly place but that closed down a few years before the camp closed down.

By Philip
On 20/08/2010

I could not believe the closure of South Denes Caravan Park. We used to travel down for 2 weeks every year for over 30 years by motorbike and sidecar. We loved it! Great beach, ideal for town centre. Before that in the 50s we used to camp across the road. They called it hole in wall side of hartmans chimney, which still remains. They used to be a hire shop - bikes, radios, televisions you name it. It's such a waste to be derelict. Whatever for? Bring it back please.

By pat
On 05/01/2011

I lived in Great Yarmouth 1971-1972. In winter the owners of the caravans had to take their caravans off the site. I think it cost £50 to put a caravan on for the season. I went to Great Yarmouth last year I had my photo taken on The South Denes then compared it to a photo of it when all the caravans were on in 1971. What a shame the beach is over grown. It used to be lovely

By Kathleen Kennedy
On 19/04/2011

THERE IS A PAGE ON FACEBOOK THAT SOMEONE HAS SET UP, THEY HAVE PUT A COUPLE OF PICTURES ON THERE. IF YOU TYPE IN SOUTH DENES CARAVAN SITE, YOU WILL FIND IT. I HOLIDAYED ON THE SOUTH DENES CAMP SITE FOR MANY YEARS WHEN I WAS YOUNGER WITH MY PARENTS, THEY WERE THE MOST MEMORABLE HOLIDAYS EVER.

By SARAH
On 03/08/2011

Hi guys,

Yes, I have happy fond memories. It's a shame they closed it. We used to walk from South Deans to North Deans on a sunny day! It was a different atmosphere then in the 70's and 80's. The caravan camps are different today, in those days you had a rainbow of different coloured caravans! It's a shame they couldn't bring it back as a retro park.

By Barbara
On 05/08/2011

Sat here just reading all happy memories about South Denes Camp with a tear in my eye.  We would go to South Denes in Mr Smith's caravans twice a year.  June with mum and sis for two weeks and in September with nannan and granddad; what a time the best ever.  Always hiring the twin bikes from the hire shop on site and once the Sinclair C5 was a lot more money to hire.  Can always remember the gypsy woman selling lucky charms, not very lucky for South Denes. The little club on site was ace; loud music just can't remember the name.  But granddad always liked to go to working mans club as it had cheaper beer.  Coming back to the caravan at night drunk trying to light the gas wick!  The smell of breakfast getting cooked in the morning.  It just goes on and on what a time of my life - cool.

By Andrew Brewster
On 23/05/2012

I stayed at the South Denes Park in 1968 with my parents and one of my school friends. We had a caravan nearest to the beach so it was just a step down from the front door. I remember listening to California Man by the Move on my solid state radio with the one earpiece and I was on the top bunk and kept banging my head on the lamp by the side of the bed. It was a fair walk to the Pleasure beach. My dad has some cine film somewhere of us on the "snails" ride.

By Stu Robinson
On 02/07/2012

Hi guys. I am the one who has set up a group all about South Denes on Facebook. Have added some great photos and some videos. Anything you can add to the site would be much appreciated. Come and join. http://www.facebook.com/groups/102475649841193/

By Darren Hibbert
On 31/07/2012

Oh my word the best holidays ever, does anyone remember the swarms of ladybirds and greenfly?  I remember it was first time I had seen plastic coloured forks in a chippy, not wooden ones lol.  What about roller-skating on Wellington Pier?  And the toy shop on Regent Road with the dolls houses?  My brother got a new kite every year and got it stuck in the gas works chimney every year.  All day cricket on the beach and a treat was a show once in the week on Britannia pier, best times ever.

By Alex Jones
On 07/01/2013

hi guys wow yes I remember the greenfly and the ladybirds I used to go every year from 1979 onwards and stayed in a52 every time and we see same people now friends "gail from cot grave, michelle from kent and we would be in the site club . no worries or cares in the world I went back last week and what I change all ill have now is happy and great memories why did they shut it down ?

By colin from derby
On 01/04/2014

I used to go to south denes in the 50's my aunt had a caravan there and we used to spend most of the summers there in 1954 till 1957 I remember the man who used to come round every morning selling hot wolles as he called Bread rolls it was a wonder full time for my sisters and my self it was always sunny and never rained.

By David
On 22/04/2014

We used to go to south dean for our holidays most year in the 1970-80. We used to play all day and the weather always seemed nice ... We used to see the same family there each year . The Payne family from March Cambs. The toilet blocks and the water pipes oh I was washed off of sand before I was allowed to go into the caravan. I remember the shop and the 5p bubblegum.. 

By Debbie Brunsdon (nee Abbott)
On 07/08/2014

I remember South Denes caravan park very well.  We went to the caravan park for approx 4 years running in the late 50's/early 60's  My two aunts and uncles would holiday at the same time with their children - ten of us in total.  Each morning my aunt would 'hire' a four person bike and take us up to the toilets/showers in relays as we were the last caravan on the site (nearest to Gorleston).  In the evening as we walked along the promenade we would see so many familiar faces from our home town of Wellingborough.  Happy happy memories.

By Elizabeth
On 27/04/2015

If you're already a registered user of this site, please login using the form on the left-hand side of this page.