This Easter, we take a look back at the history of one of Ayrshire's most magical destinations - Butlin's in Ayr.

Generations of families headed down the coast to enjoy the attractions of the holiday park between 1946 and 1998.

Ayr Advertiser: Butlins Ayr

In the days before foreign holidays became affordable for most Scots, Butlin's was the go-to place for much of the west of Scotland and north of England during school holidays.

Boasting swimming pools, arcades, rides galore and nightly entertainment, Butlin's Ayr, later renamed Wonderwest World, still looms large in the childhood memories of many Scots.

Ayr Advertiser: Butlins Ayr

Tom White recently posted these old postcards from the holiday camp on the Facebook page 'Memories of Ayr When You Were a Kid'.

And they give a good illustration of what Butlin's Ayr was like at its best.  

Ayr Advertiser: Butlins Ayr

Now the Craig Tara holiday park, owned by Haven, the Butlin's facility had an odd origin,  starting as a military base during the Second World War.

Founder Billy Butlin had built his first holiday camp at Skegness, on the Lincolnshire coast, followed by one at Clacton-on-Sea in Essex.

His third facility, at Filey, near Scarborough, was being constructed when war broke out in 1939.

Ayr Advertiser: Butlins Ayr

The camps were quickly requisitioned by the military, with the holidaymakers being sent packing.

But Billy Butlin didn't do too badly out of the takeover. He was soon asked to build two more camps to be used by the Royal Navy during wartime - one in Wales and the other on the Ayrshire coast.

Ayr Advertiser: Butlins Ayr

He found his spot at the Heads of Ayr. Work began on the site in 1940 and was completed a year later, taking the name HMS Scotia.

At war's end, the camp reverted to Butlin's ownership and in 1946 Butlins' Ayr opened its doors to the public.

At first it could accommodate 2,000 guests, though the capacity was later increased to 5,000. 

Ayr Advertiser: Butlins Ayr

And holidaymakers flocked to the coastal site. The kids loved the fairground, along with fun, games and entertainment led by the famous Butlin's Redcoats.

And the parents certainly enjoyed the packed bars, which featured entertainment from some well loved musical acts.

At the start, the Ayr Redcoats wore kilts, and for a while their numbers included Mr Butlin's own son Bobby.

Ayr Advertiser: Butlins Ayr

The camp contained all the holiday ingredients that Billy Butlin made famous, and which were later mocked on the TV comedy Hi De Hi.

There was the early morning wake up call for a start...though unlike the radio blast which summoned the campers to breakfast at most Butlin's sites, the Ayr camp featured two pipers marching around to make sure everyone would soon be up and about.

Ayr Advertiser: Butlins Ayr

The Heads of Ayr Hotel opened soon after, and within a few years an old railway track was reopened and a station built, which brought campers directly from Ayr, Glasgow, Newcastle and Leeds. The rail line remained open until 1968.

Further attractions were soon added to the Ayr camp, including a miniature railway, an indoor swimming pool and even chairlifts. A carousel opened in the 1950s.

Ayr Advertiser: Butlins Ayr

Every summer, the camp was packed with holidaymakers, and generations of people still recall their visit to the Ayr site.

But the bubble would eventually burst.

By the late 70s and early 80s, cheaper air travel to warmer climes began to hit the Butlin's sites. And Ayr was faring worst of all, as the least profitable Butlin's camp.

Ayr Advertiser: Butlins Ayr

Something had to be done. And in 1987, Butlin's, with support from the Scottish Tourist Board, announced a £25 million investment. Butlin's Ayr would soon become Wonderwest World.

It featured a new indoor water complex, upgraded three star accommodation, an improved caravan park and a food court that could seat 900 people.

Ayr Advertiser: Butlins Ayr

But the fun had to end some time. And by 1999, the Ayr camp was transferred to Butlin's sister company Haven Holidays to reopen as Craig Tara.

Many of the old attractions disappeared from the site, which now offered luxury caravans and was officially opened by football legend Kenny Dalglish. And it remains a popular visitor attraction to this day.

But older folk still maintain that much of the Butlin's magic disappeared with the name.

What are your favourite memories of Butlin's, Ayr and Wonderwest World? Let us know in the comments section and we'll feature some of the best responses at a later date.