Since its early beginnings, Potters has always recognised the value of entertainment and way back in the day that fell on the shoulders of the legendary Geof Parsons.
Almost 30 years ago and before his passing in 2005, Geof wrote a book, Only One F in Geof, and we have taken some quotes from Geof to set the scene of Potters in 1952, the year he first started at Potters. Over to you, Geof…
Potter’s brochure of the 50s read “The chalets are of the bungalow type with verandahs and fitted with electric light and have running water. Fun and frolic on the beach. Early morning tea available at the kitchen. Magnificent brick-built dance hall with raised stage. Hot baths, a continuous circulating hot water system permits a bath by arrangement. Terms per week including full board and accommodation…£2.10s.”
The requirement was to entertain about 400 guests each week and organise their daytime sports and general fun.
The food, though basic, was excellent and the evening meal was a set menu, and you had what was on offer. The running tap in the chalets was limited to cold water but hot water was available from an outside tap at the back of the kitchens, you simply took a jug with you and joined the early morning queue for shaving prior to breakfast. Toilet and bath facilities were advertised as convenient, being only fifty yards away!
Situated on a superb site running down to the sea and safe beach, with rural surroundings, three tennis courts, bowling green, football pitch, sports green, ballroom, bar and lounges. It represented great holiday value and Potters was considered upmarket in comparison with most camps of similar size.
I was the first professional entertainer at Potters to be engaged on a weekly wage and was expected to entertain and amuse day and night four hundred or more folk per week. I felt like the Pied Piper. When the weather was fine, I’d have two hundred people joining in beach games. Afternoons were taken up with fun items, sports tournaments and comedy football. The weekly ramble was a hoot. After the evening meal there’d be a Whist or Beetle Drive or a fun dart match before introducing the band.
Thursday was my favourite night to present the weekly ‘Camp Concert’, all made up of the guests providing the entertainment. On occasion the week’s talent would exceed my expectations and the show would feature dancers, magicians and maybe a ventriloquist, but more often than not singers… sometimes good…sometimes bad.
A favourite forfeit the visitors liked to see me do was a watery one involving a stepladder, the idea being that I should carry a bucket of water over the ladder on my head without spilling any. I would request four volunteers to hold the ladder and a dozen buckets of water standing by… in case I didn’t manage it first time, we got lots of laughs.
Fancy dress competitions were a popular part of the weekly programme and visitors would settle themselves in their deckchairs to watch the kids proudly parading in their crepe paper outfits, always a colourful display. The adult fancy dress was an even bigger evening feature always full of surprises.
I often wondered what those holidaymakers thought when this thin weedy character with unruly hair and buck teeth was introduced as the guy that was going to ensure that they had a good holiday! I like to think that they quickly realised that I was an extrovert chap that would do anything for a laugh and a moderate entertainer to boot…plus the fact that they were stuck with me…just me for the week!
We’ll post more excerpts from the wonderful Geof Parson’s book soon.