The Retreat Turns 70
The land known as Retreat Estates was purchased in 1947 by my great grandfather, Benjamin Priest, from the MOD at the end of the second world war. The land had been set up to be used as a POW camp. It was constructed by the Americans but remained unused, however, the Nissan Huts became our very early toilet blocks! I remember being scared as a young girl of the gigantic spiders living in the nooks and crannies.
Before the war the land was the site of a large house called “The Retreat” which became derelict during the 1930’s. Our family have continued to keep the name and pride ourselves in offering a true “Retreat” to all our Caravan Owners.
The Park was leased to the Wynn Family in the 60’s and 70’s whilst our family still ran several steel fabrication factories in the Midlands. However, we had our own caravan on the Park which was un-serviced with a night light run from the car cigarette lighter and a slop out bucket! How things have changed since then.
The 1980’s saw my father and mother, Roger and Rosemary Jackson, take over the day to day running of the Park and we upgraded to a double unit known as “The Chalet” which had running water and central heating…… It was sighted on what is now known as 20 & 21 Lilac Grove.
They set about putting in mains water, sewerage and electricity and providing proper pitch bases much as you see in the current Park Layout today. Substantial investment led to us becoming a static caravan owner’s only Park, which is the ethos Retreat continues to this day. We provide a quiet well run family Park providing the perfect environment for you to own your own home on holiday.
Since the 1980’s we have continued to develop the Park to ensure that we provide up to date services for all as well as extending pitches to accommodate the ever growing caravans and lodges that are coming off the production line fully equipped with all mod cons that back when I was younger you never could of imagined.
I joined helping Mum and Dad full time in the 90’s whilst my 3 girls were growing up. It provided them with the same freedom I had growing up on the Park in the 70’s – What I would describe today as a proper “childhood” making our own entertainment, playing and making friends with not even a TV in sight.
Now I’m Park Manager or “general dogsbody” may be a better title. We now have a great team of staff working for us, maintenance, office and cleaning staff but all there to do their best for our owners and their families. My first memories in the 70’s was of our Park Warden, Bert, who worked out of a cupboard with a paraffin stove and he could put his finger on anything in this cramped space. However, with progression so came health and safety as well as employee welfare so it wasn’t long before we built an office with large storeroom with central heating and separate toilet facilities. This saw our second warden Frank Tuck take over. Now we have #TeamRetreat made up of Duncan, my husband, Mark S, Jeremy, Mark P and Marion who all work enthusiastically to provide great service to all our owners. My youngest daughter Lucy has now joined the team and is the fifth generation of the family to work here.
And so to the new developments recently – I have brought back the original names for the various areas of The Park, first introduced by my grandmother. Some have changed as Outer Space is now Beach Walk and I created Ron’s Hollow to recognise Ron Willett whose family have had a caravan on their pitch since the Park first began. We have also created 8 Lodge bases for the twin units now being built to BS3632 standards meaning they are suitable for use throughout the year. This led us to increasing our open season from 10 months to 50 weeks each year.
This 70th Anniversary year will see us celebrate a great achievement and something of which we are immensely proud. Here’s to the next generation continuing the ethos that is The Retreat.