Harcourt Sands Holiday Park, Isle of Wight

Harcourt Sands, owned by Renowned, closed back in 2006 resulting in over 11 hectares of land becoming an unused eyesore with the loss of 167 jobs. In 2007 vandals targeted the abandoned buildings resulting in a massive blaze that destroyed the holiday parkโ€™s entertainment complex. The site has not been occupied since.

โ€œSet in award-winning gardens that stretch down to a sandy beach, ideal for strolls and views across the Solent. Indoor pool includes a super flume, bubble pool and sauna. Outdoor pool is open from end of May to end of August. Children will enjoy the Toboggan Run and their own programme of fun activities. Other attractions include short-mat bowling, archery, gentle fun-fitness, line dancing, tea dances, championship 3 rink indoor bowls and bingo. Plus evening entertainment with top class cabaret and live dance band. Chalets include en-suite shower or bathroom, tea and coffee facilities, colour TV, fresh towels and soap, and bed linen. Ambassador Chalets (available at a supplement) are furnished to a higher standard and include Teletext TV, hair dryer, radio-alarm, a welcoming bottle of sparkling wine, chocolates and fruit basket.โ€

The Explore

Myself and another explorer started the day by getting the early morning ferry over to the Isle of Wight. There were about six or seven locations that we wanted to try and cram in that day so we didn’t hang about at any of the places we managed to get into that day.

After finding the abandoned holiday camp we managed to find a way in, avoiding the anti-vandal paint slapped on everywhere. The place has been closed for ten years, and in that time its been well and truly vandalised and destroyed. However there are some parts of the place which still look good condition and the buildings themselves, other than being over grown with bushes were in good nick.

Unfortunately after trying for ages we couldn’t get into the indoor swimming pool area, it had been recently boarded up and was very secure with no roof access. I did manage to get half way in through an air duct tunnel but got scared and came out.

We didn’t get to explore the whole site as we were caught half way in a building by security in a van with a dog and had to run like hell. A good explore though and I will defiantly be going back to get into the swimming pool and explore the rest of it!

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9 Comments on Harcourt Sands Holiday Park, Isle of Wight

  1. I worked at Harcourt Sands from September 1994 to February 1996. I was a waiter and also did a bit of work on the reception in the summer of 1995. The demise of the camp is so sad and much of these photographs are of the executive suites which were in an ideal spot, overlooking the beach/solent with beautiful lawns in front of them. They were no distance from the huge restaurant and indoor pool. The staff chalets were at the Puckpool end of the camp. There was so much to do here, I was amazed when I heard it had closed. The indoor pool was excellent,large outdoor pool, huge restaurant, golf course! tennis courts, indoor bowling, snooker/pool tables, massive indoor gym, fantastic ball room with proper entertainment and shows. I would have taken my kids back to the camp. So sad, it was always full when it was under Haven and Ive heard that it was still making money, but the owners thought theyd make more by selling the land for property development. If true this has turned into a disaster as the site is an eyesore and has been for a decade, all of them jobs lots and all of the visitors and holiday makers whod spend their money on the island.

  2. Hey UrbexCamo, many thanks for the Awesome report and site update! ๐Ÿ™‚
    I found this via Google after looking at the site on Maps today showed it to be a *little* bit different to how it was when I was last there! xD

    I stayed at Harcourt Sands several times as a child, and I can still remember the site as plain as day including most of the main buildings and layout in close detail. The camp itself was originally two separate holiday camps (Puckpool to the east side, St. Clair to the west) separated by a short stretch of woodland dividing them, and was merged into one larger “Supercamp” when Haven and Warner merged operations sometime in the early 90s and Warner split off to offering adult-only accommodation.

    The Puckpool entertainment complex (Which would’ve been a large demolished foundation when you ex’d -0 It was burned out by vandals in 2007) was a single large building housing the majority of Puckpools facilities including the dining room (Later converted to a sports hall), ballroom, cafe, two bars, lounge, bowling alley, shop and games arcade. Just up the hill from this was the leisure pool (Which was fantastic during the summer. Were any remnants of the “Pineapple” waterslide still visible when you went?) and a play area above that, and most of Puckpools chalets were to the east and immediate north of the main complex.

    The western half of the camp – Formerly St. Clair – Was a slightly quieter and more spread-out site, though it’s larger dining room became the sole restaurant for the camp after the two were merged. Meals were served in sittings by chalet class, if I remember rightly. I can’t remember how many guests it could accommodate, but the dining room itself was a good 15x20m in size and probably seated a good 300-400 at a guess.
    Just up the hill and to the east was the reception building – A small single-level building probably completely hidden/inaccessible by now – With car park A immediately in front of it. A poured concrete path linked the reception directly with the dining room. The reception building stood immediately south and uphill from the indoor pool you wern’t able to access when you went, which in turn was typical of many such pools built in the late 80s. ๐Ÿ™‚

    The pool complex – Incidentally – Housed the pool itself (Which had a small jacuzzi and a single waterslide) plus small sauna and solaria, and the front hall formed part of the main thoroughfare between the two halves of the camp for many guests at the time. I could probably sketch a fairly accurate layout of the pool complex, if that would help with any future Ex’ing? ๐Ÿ™‚

    Finally, the woodland dividing the two camps had a small Wiegand toboggan run on the upper half of the hill (Opposite the indoor pool and on the other side of the road) and just below this used to be a 25m high tower with three large slides and a climbing wall inside, though as this was a mostly pre-fab structure I imagine it might’ve been removed at some later time. There were also a few more two-story chalets just east of these, which I daresay are probably buried completely in the undergrowth by now and might someday surprise the person who rediscovers them! ๐Ÿ˜€

    BTW: Just in case it helps ye or others who come across this article and want to reminisce, I’ve given locations and short descriptions for each of the photos, numbered from the top down. These are as accurate as memory allows, though even after 20+ years I can still remember the place in such clear detail it’s shocking! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Anyhow, thanks for such an awesome trip down memory lane! It’s just amazing to see just how quickly things can change inside ones own lifetime! ^_^ ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Ambassador chalets, St. Clair south side.
    2. Harcourt Sands main entrance, Puckpool Rd. This was originally the gate just for St. Clair (Puckpool was the next entrance down) but became the main access after the camps merged.
    3. Not 100% certain, but likely at entrance to reception car-park. Hard left would lead you to the reception building and straight-on would lead you downhill to the pool, woodland walk and the beach.
    4 & 5. Ambassador chalets, St. Clair south side. (5 looking North)
    6. Just inside, 1st fork after main entrance (St. Clair south). Deliveries turned left here to pass behind reception and access the service area above there and next to the Restaurant.
    7 & 8. Linden chalets, St. Clair north side. A small entrance in the extreme NW corner of the site led directly onto the beach, less than 100m from here.
    9, 10 & 11. Ambassador chalets, St. Claire south side. These were from a later phase of expansion where these were built over a mostly underused car-park. This can still be seen from the tarmac leading right up to the frontages.
    12. Near indoor pool, the missing sign pointed to reception. The leisure pool was the open-air one on the hill next to the (Demolished) entertainments building on the Puckpool side.
    13. NE corner of St. Clair pool. Plant room below foreground. In all liklihood the plant is probably still there. The pipe running into the building leads into 700mm ventilation ducting high above the pool.
    14. Eastern entrance to St. Clair pool. The pool lobby doubled as a major throughfare between St. Clair facilities and the Puckpool side of the camp.
    15 & 16. Chalets at eastern end of the Puckpool camp. The chalet in the foreground of 16 is one of the several I stayed in across various holidays, and to this day the washbasin tap probably *still* drips continuously, no matter how tightly it’s turned! :-p ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Wow! Thank you so so much for your history of the place itโ€™s incredible! And thank you for the references for the pictures it makes morse sense to me now haha. We were caught right near the pineapple hut and pool by security and had to hot foot it out unfortunately. Had no idea about the long toboggan and gutted I didnโ€™t see that ๐Ÿ™ nor did I see the slides ๐Ÿ™

      A good friend I visited with the first time went back there about three weeks ago and not much has changed apparently (he was not caught).

      Once again thank you so much for the information! If only you could do the same for all our reports haha. Itโ€™s so nice to be able to bring back memories to people such as yourself and let them revisit their past for a while. So again…many thanks your comment is very much appreciated sir! ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป

      • No worries – It’s always nice to share some near-forgotton history with others! ๐Ÿ™‚

        From a bit more reading tonight it looks like most people use the former main/St. Clair entrance for access, so to find those missed bits (If they’re still there) enter via that gate, bear right and follow the remains of the road down the hill. There should (= Might still) be a small footpath on the right leading to the toboggan station directly opposite the indoor pool plant room. The slide tower – If it’s still there – Is about 100m (300ft) NE from the toboggan station. Like I said though it may have been removed when the site closed, fairly probable as it was a readily resellable/relocatable asset. ๐Ÿ™‚

        BTW: The Bing aerial photo at http://www.harcourt-sands.co.uk/assets/site-images/home-page/aerial-bing-web.jpg was taken when the site was still in or just out of use, and the site layout is much clearer from that. The toboggan and (Now lost) Puckpool complex are both clearly visible in it as well. ๐Ÿ™‚

        I must admit I’ve never Ex’d myself, but I have a strong interest and hoping I might be able to get started someday. Putting aside finding viable places to Ex though (There used to be one near me that was *very* highly regarded, but I understand it was demolished several years ago! ๐Ÿ™ ) the primary concern for me is learning how to Ex safely and – Most importantly – In a way that doesn’t pose any risk to others. ๐Ÿ™‚

        • Oops! Minor corrections to the above:
          * For the toboggan: From the entrance, bear right *then left* – If you keep right you end up at the top of the Puckpool half, and (By the sounds of thy reply) right next to the security hut! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ
          * If in doubt, head for the indoor pool (Can’t miss it from any part of St. Clair) and skirt around to the eastern door/plant room for bearings.
          * From a look at Google Satellite imagery tonight, it looks like the slide tower might still be there (Or at least the foundation of) but beware; IIRC the structure was mostly bolted together, so flooring and stairways could be dangerously unstable after all this time.

          Easy way to find it on Google Maps: Search for “Puckpool Park, Isle of Wight” and pan to the low left (SW) – You’ll probably recognise the pools from the aerial view. ๐Ÿ™‚

          • Your knowledge on the place is incredible, and your tips will definitely help for our return visit! So thanks again!

            With regards to wanting to get out there and have a good old mooch around locations, the best advise is to grab a torch and just go and have a look. Your be amazed what you can find! Stay safe and most importantly just have fun with it…..seems a lot of explorers take it far too seriously now.

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