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Pontins Holiday Camp

Sun 12 Jan 2014: Yesterday afternoon I went to visit the abandoned and derelict Pontins Holiday Camp at the top of Plemont Bay on the North coast of Jersey. A week ago a large fire destroyed the main building of this former holiday village which in its heyday between 1960s-90s was a popular site for mass tourism. Closed at the end of 2000 the decaying holiday camp has for many been a sore sight and represents a concrete example of Jersey's declining tourist industry and the wider Channel Islands' deminishing status as a destination for holiday makers.

Currently, the future is unknown for the site. Demolition signs are up, though it looks like nothing will happen any time soon. Trevor Hemmings, the current site owner, had applied to build homes on the land, but this was turned down in 2008. The local government are under constant pressure from local organisations to purchase the site and return it to nature.

Below are a few pictures of places that attracted me and a couple of people I met along the way. I wasn't interested in photographing signs of the fire or the holidy camp itself, but more focusing on the landscape of the site and the holiday village's position within it. What is left of the camp is boarded up and fences has been erected to keep trespasser away. In adittion, security personnel is patrolling site 24/7 and health and safety issues are abundant with large amount of asbestos material on site. Yesterday was the first day in weeks of endless wind and rain where the sun was out in full glory. I had to get out and feel the warmth on my skin and see the light. With the now famous response from Eggleston echoing across the headland when he was asked by some friends around the dinner table about what he had been photographing that day, he replied in his useful sarconic and wry tone: "well, I've been photographing democratically."
(Afterword by William Eggleston in The Democratic Forest, 1989)



Pontins Holiday Camp 1, Plemont Bay, Jersey, Channel Islands, © Martin Toft, 11 Jan 2014


At the entrance to the holiday camp...





Pontins Holiday Camp 2, Plemont Bay, Jersey, Channel Islands, © Martin Toft, 11 Jan 2014


A few of the abandoned buildings inside the holiday camp...





Pontins Holiday Camp 3, Plemont Bay, Jersey, Channel Islands, © Martin Toft, 11 Jan 2014


A derelict tennis court on the North west side of the perimeter of the holiday camp...





S. Baudains, Owner and operator of Aerial Photography Services, Pontins Holiday Camp, Plemont Bay, Jersey, Channel Islands. © Martin Toft, 11 Jan 2014


As I was walking around the perimeter of the closed holiday camp I noticed a buzzing noise from the sky. On closer inspection I realised it was an aerial device flying above me with a camera attached. At first, I assumed it was the security apparatus following my movements and checking out what I was doing. Later on I came across Mr Baudains and his 'toy' which it turned out was a really clever little mini helcopter. He showed me the footage it had captured both as still pictures and in video. Incredible quality. His spying machine is one of few aerial devices registered in the island, and when he is using it he must inform the Air Traffic Control Tower which then prevents all flights entering the airspace of Jersey while he is flying his machine...





Signs and Masts,
Plemont Bay, Jersey, Channel Islands, © Martin Toft, 11 Jan 2014


The road outside Pontin Holiday Camp which leads to Plemont Bay Beach...





Rachel Davies, Groom, Plemont, Jersey, Channel Islands. © Martin Toft, 11 Jan 2014


As I was walking back to my car a girl pulled up in her 4WD to feed a few horses in a field opposite the Pontins Holiday Camp. I had previously padded a few of them as I made my way to the camp earlier in the afternoon when they were grazing. Upon seeing her they went crazy with excitement and Rachel told me that they were race horses which were due to go racing the following day. I just managed to capture a few pictures of her and the horses before the sun was setting behind the fields...





At the end of the Day, l"Etacq, St Ouen, Jersey, Channel Islands. © Martin Toft, 11 Jan 2014


On my way back in my car I passed a group of farm labourers by the road side. They had just finished plowing one of the very steep slopes, (which here in Jersey is called a côtil), using a hand plow attached to a tractor and pulley on the road. They were preparing the soil for planting new potato seeds for an eraly crop of Jersey Royals. I stopped and they were happy to be photographed...





Zbiqniew Brozyna, Farm Labourer, St Ouen, Jersey, Channel Islands. © Martin Toft, 11 Jan 2014


Zbiqniew is using an old hand held plow in preparing the soil on the côtil of St Ouen ready for planting new crop of seed potatos. The sandy soil around St Ouen Bay is famous for its rich fertile fields which produce one of Jersey's well-known exports in abundance, Jersey Royals...





Marek Brozyna, Tractor Driver, St Ouen, Jersey, Channel Islands. © Martin Toft, 11 Jan 2014


Zbiqniew brother, Marek operates the tractor which pulls the plow up the steep côtil. Both brothers work for the same company and has come to Jersey to earn money working in the agricultural industry. The work force in this sector is predominantly made up of Portugese and Polish workers who do not mind working long hours and being paid the minimal wage...





Polycarbonate sheeting 1, St Ouen, Jersey, Channel Islands. © Martin Toft, 11 Jan 2014


As the sun was setting across St Ouen Bay I just managed to capture the last light as it was shimmering on the polycarbonate sheeting that farmers cover the fields to protect their new crop of Jersey Royals from frost. For me the ritual of covering the fields of Jersey's pride of product in plastic sheeting symbolises a much broader metaphor for Jersey as a whole. They want to protect their culture, heritage and traditions but at the same time they don't want anyone having a peek in on how they conduct their business or what products they grow...