History of Harbour Park

Saxon Times

Littlehampton in Saxon times (AD430) was known as a settlement called Hamton. Later, after the Norman invasion of 1066, books referred to the town as Hantone. At this time, Arun became one of the main routes for travel between England and Normandy, and the whole estuary was known as Arundel Haven. Until the late 15th century the Arun river was 10 miles east at Lancing, combining with the River Adur. However, its mouth became blocked by shingle and tides pushed the Adur east, whilst the Arun was thrust westwards. As a result, fresh exits formed and around 1500-1530, the Arun broke through near Littlehampton.

18th Century Littlehampton

Many years later, after improvements to the rivers course, Littlehampton was fast becoming a ship-building and trading port. The area was therefore a likely landing place for an invasion by Napoleon’s forces and in 1759 a fort battery was installed upon a mound to guard the Harbour entrance. This is where Harbour Park’s Adventure Golf now stands.

Once safe, Littlehampton soon established itself as a seaside resort. Wealthy people travelled down because bathing in the sea was considered good for your health and it was even thought that drinking a pint of sea water was good for you. Unfortunately, only wealthy people could afford to visit the town at the time because travel was expensive and most people worked six and a half days every week.

19th Century

However, from 1863 onwards travel became more affordable due to the arrival of the first passenger steam trains, and within the year Littlehampton gained a railway station, which encouraged more visitors to the area. By the 1880s, the town was receiving 2 – 3 thousand visitors per day during the summer season, these included writers and artists who were attracted by the relaxed peaceful atmosphere.
One of the most recognisable landmarks of Victorian Littlehampton was the tower windmill, which stood on the site of Harbour Park from 1831-1932. Originally, built for a millwright called Henry Martin the property expanded and passed hands many times before being demolished by Billy Butlin’s funfair in 1932. In addition to its flour making purposes, the mill was continuously used as a point of reference for ships wishing to seek shelter in Littlehampton’s harbour.

Butlin’s Entertainment Centre

Nevertheless, Butlin’s Amusement Park was a great attraction and with the rest of Littlehampton holding its maritime charm, the area was soon referred to by Edwardian families as ‘The Children’s Paradise’. During the war the park closed from 1941-1945 and the building was used for storage and the gathering of troops going overseas. The building suffered bomb damage during that time; but was repaired and reopened after the war as part of the Butlin Holiday Camp Empire.

A New Era

In 1977, the Billy Smart Circus family bought the park, and set about re-equipping it into a family Amusement centre. In 1994 the current owner, Gary Smart oversaw a sizable redevelopment of the site. The name changed from Smart’s Amusement Park to its contemporary Harbour Park, which reflected the theme running throughout the site and its unique location on the seafront and riverside. Over the next few years major works were undertaken and the final phase was completed in the year 2000. Harbour Park therefore, entered the new millennium with an exciting look, whilst managing to retain the Smart family values of providing a friendly, fun and entertaining family venue. In fact, Billy Smart still watches over the park in the form of a magnificent bronze statute located in the main building.

Pontins or Butlins?

As a mother of three trying to look after the pennies, we often holiday in places such as Center Parcs, Butlins, Haven and Pontins. Center Parcs are by far the more luxurious of the four holiday parks, which is reflected in the price as they are quite a lot more expensive. Haven are sort of mid-range with many of their resorts not offering very much in the form of entertainment at all so much as a place to stay while you’re away. They seem to cater more towards the families that have children who are a bit too old to be entertained daily when on holiday, like older children or perhaps teenagers. So that basically leaves Butlins and Pontins. Both are relatively on par with each other in terms of price as they both offer an affordable entertainment and family package both during the school holidays as well as term time. Having been to both I personally think that without a doubt Butlins is better than Pontins.

For starters Butlins is a lot bigger than Pontins. I have stayed at 6 Butlins resorts and 4 Pontins and in all cases Butlins was easily twice the size. This means twice the atmosphere, twice as many people for your children to meet and of course twice as much entertainment. Pontins has excellent entertainment but I would consider this more appropriate for very young children up to the age of 5. Butlins offers plenty more for children who are 3 to 12, including discos and nightclubs for children.

Perhaps related to the fact that the Butlins sites are bigger, as it means that they can accommodate more people and therefore earn more money, but I have always considers Butlins resorts to be considerably more modern than Pontins. All of the times I went to Pontins I stayed in chalets that were at least 30 years old and although they were comfortable they were actually very basic. Butlins was considerably more comfortable and a lot more modern.

The resorts themselves were considerably cleaner looking in Butlins than in Pontins. There was less peeling paint and closed down attractions in Butlins, as well as far less litter. Butlins also seemed to have a lot more staff as well as facilities.



Hello everyone! My name is Jules and this is my little corner of the web! Come in and put your feet up! On my blog I will be posting a whole load of different things to do with me, my family and my job. Shout out to all those who know me lol!

I have started this blog so that people in the same position as me can read and hopefully relate to me! I am a mother of 3 in my 40’s juggling busy family life with a full time job. My husband is registered disabled so he mainly helps with the kids and I have to make the household income spread that little bit further, so money saving is one of the things that I have learned to be good at. I will be using this blog to show all of my money saving techniques so that hopefully you can use them too and save you and your family some money. If you have any questions or contributions please tweet me. My Twitter page can be found here.

Saving money on a trip to Butlins

If you have children then the chances are that you’ve heard of Butlins. You may even have already been. Butlins is a magical place for children and young children as it has an exciting atmosphere and non-stop entertainment for both the kids and the adults. The only bad thing about Butlins is that sometimes it can cost a fortune to stay there - especially out of term time. Fortunately there are plenty of ways to save money on your first or next trip to Butlins, including:

  • Butlins voucher codes
  • Butlins late deals
  • The Butlins sale
  • The Butlins day pass

Butlins voucher codes

These are without doubt the quickest and easiest way to save money on your booking. Simply search the internet for Butlins voucher codes with your preferred search engine, click on one of the result and copy and paste the relevant code into the promo code box at the checkout when you are completing a booking. There are different promo codes available at different times of year, so your savings can vary between anything from £20 off a booking to getting free nights added to your holiday.

Butlins late deals

Just like with all the major hotel chains and airlines, empty rooms and empty seats mean that they are making no money. Butlins, just like other companies would rather make something as opposed to nothing, so if there is a cancellation and a room is left empty then they will resell it at a price suitable to the amount of time before the holiday is booked for. Therefore if you look for late deals you can be sure to save on the RRP of a trip to Butlins. Due to the nature of late bookings, the later you can book the better but be aware that the longer you wait the more your flexibility will be reduced and it may be that you lose the booking altogether.

The Butlins sale

As do all other retailers, especially online, Butlins have regular seasonal sales. The advantage of these is that it gets the interest and the bookings flowing to allow for more demand for the remaining bookings. They can then increase the price as demand begins to outweigh the supply of bookings. If you’re looking to save money on your trip to Butlins, then look for the sales at the end of seasons. The end of the Summer season is a good time to look as there are some real bargains to be had and the weather is often still nice in September or even October. These sale prices can usually be combined with voucher codes as well so you can get a pretty good deal.

The Butlins day pass

For those who’d like to treat the kids to some time at Butlins but the budget simply does not allow for a holiday there, or you’ve left it too late to book the accommodation, then the Butlins day pass is the perfect solution. Available for families and individuals the day pass allows you to make the most of the facilities, attractions and entertainment that Butlins has to offer without the added expense of staying there overnight. This is ideal if you lie within a relatively short distance to Butlins. It’s also a great idea if you’ve never been to a particular Butlins resort before and would like to try it out before booking a holiday there. Butlins often has discount codes that are redeemable for the day pass as well so you can also save money this way. Remember that each resort will vary and some are worse than others. Check sites like Trip Advisor for individual reviews on each site. However be sure to take the reviews with a pinch of salt as people tend to be biased on review websites.