Prestatyn Holiday Camp
This 58 acre seafront camp was built in 1939 as a joint venture between Thomas Cook and the LMS railway. It continued to be run by Thomas Cook for many years and was known to many as simply 'Cooks Camp'. It was designed from the outset to be a more upmarket facility and was famed for its modernistic architecture, especially the 60ft-tall Hamlyn Tower which loomed large over the site to become a well-loved Prestayn landmark.
In common with other camps of this era it was a full board facility which meant that all meals were included and were taken in the huge communal dining hall which could accommodate 1750 people in one sitting. The camp reputedly owned the largest fryer in the world which was capable of cooking 2,000 portions of fish at one time!
The late 1960s saw a downturn in business as customers were looking for more freedom from the regimented entertainment and mealtimes. The camp responded by converting some of the chalets to self catering and by installing static caravans. The situation wasn't helped in 1971 when Pontins opened their brand new multi-million pound self-catering camp just a mile down the road
It eventually fell on hard times and was sold to rival Pontins in 1975. Plans were announced for a massive investment to convert the entire site into self catering. It was renamed Tower Beach and the following year 15 brand new two-storey chalet blocks were built in the traditional Pontins style. All chalets were equipped with kitchens and lounges. More old chalets were converted and the caravan park was expanded along with an area for touring caravans and tents. A new indoor pool was built and the old (larger) outdoor pool was subsequently filled in.
It differed from other Pontin camps in that an extra charge was made to use the camp facilities...the swimming pool, snooker room, even the evening entertainment complex all had a separate admission fee. However this was reflected in the holiday cost and Tower Beach was the cheapest self-catering camp in the old Pontins stable.
After investing a considerable sum of money it therefore came as a huge shock when Pontins closed it all down at the end of 1984 - most of the chalets were only 7 years old! The camp sat abandoned and derelict for the next 17 years during which time it was used for police riot training and even TV/movie filming. It was finally demolished in 2001.
The land was sold for a reputed £5 million and it's now a housing estate known as Tower Gardens.