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Blackthorns Sun Club was founded in 1959, and since 1969 has been developing its site near Sharnbrook in rural north Bedfordshire. This website provides an overview of the Club and its facilities. If it whets your appetite and you would like to know more, details of how to contact us are elsewhere on this site.

We are lucky enough to own the land outright and therefore we keep costs to a minimum and there is no one owner seeking a profitable income from the club. We are therefore very unlikely to close or to change to a non naturist caravan park like so many have done over the years.  Ours is a thriving club made up of  a wide age group of people from many backgrounds, which makes for an interesting and varied community that becomes a very social scene to belong to.

Principally, of course, Blackthorns offers the opportunity to strip off and enjoy rest and recreation without the encumbrance of clothes. You may even get an all-over tan!

Everything else the club has to offer is a bonus that members can enjoy at the same time as being a naturist.

Around the main lawn that surrounds the heated, outdoor pool, is also the patio & communal barbeque, a kiosk for drinks & snacks, showers, toilets and sauna. .

We have sports facilities: petanque, miniten, volley ball, badminten & crazy golf.

We have an organised social event each month in our well equipped clubhouse, which might include a meal with a disco or live music.

We never have trouble finding someone to attend a naturist site!

We also hold quizzes, bingo, horse racing: anything that brings the members together and creates a fun time for all.

We have a great environment in which to enjoy making new friends and it’s good to get back to being aware of our natural surroundings and have a break from the electronic world of  mobile phones and computers, at least for a while!

Whilst we love all the modern facilities we have built up over the years we still respect the woodland that we are lucky enough to be situated in.  It gives us a sheltered, relaxing, natural habitat but we never forget nature was here first!

We look after the woodland and its inhabitants and strive to keep it as natural as possible.  We do not cut all the trees down to make room for more caravans but nurture them so that they remain for generations to come.

This natural site is a haven for wildlife and even if you are not normally a fan of bird watching or flower recognition, it is difficult not to take an interest once you notice the wide variety of life

 within the woods.  We have a carpet of primroses and then bluebells in the Spring. We have woodpeckers nesting each year and native orchids and badgers, foxes and deer.

The History of Blackthorns.

History of Blackthorns Sun Club 1958 - 1984

Following the success of the World Naturist Congress held at Woburn Abbey in 1958, a small group were determined to form a club in Bedfordshire.

This led to the “Bedfordia Sun Club” being formed, at a meeting held in The Sun Hotel in Hitchin on Sat. 21st November 1959.  The annual subscription was ten shillings.

In 1961 “Bedfordia Sun Club” rented 1.25 acres of virgin woodland at Thurleigh with access across a field but no road of its own.

Shortly afterwards, due to “Bedfordia” being a commonly used name locally, and due to the indigenous tree cover on the site, the club changed its name to “Blackthorns Sun Club”.

Work commenced on a well to secure a water supply.

1962 saw further developments.

Volley-ball, badminton and a crazy-golf course were introduced along with a genuine log cabin made from felled trees.

A pool was constructed of scaffolding poles and barrage balloon fabric.

A second well was tried but again without success.

Sept. 16th saw the first AGM.

1963 was important in that the club grounds were officially opened on June 30th.

The local paper “The Bedfordshire Times” reported the event at some length.

The swimming pool fund was launched.

Runner Beans were suggested for screening and workdays on the first Sunday of each month became a regular event.

Late in `63 the club faced new owners and evacuation.

Attempts were made to purchase “Bottom Spinney”, a 19-acre wood at Cranfield.

It even made “The Daily Mirror” national newspaper in March of `64. There appeared to be a lot of local opposition involved in the failure to acquire the site.

The club became nomadic.

In 1966 Pippin Wood was mentioned in the “minutes”.

It was recorded at a meeting on 2nd Feb `69 that all hopes of acquiring Pippin Wood were dropped in the face of a threatened compulsory purchase order by the County Council but only 3wks later the club was offered the land for £1,500.

It was proposed and seconded that a formation of a limited company would buy the land and “Pippin Enterprises” was founded.

Pippin Wood was purchased for £100 per acre.

The first AGM was held on 28th Sept `69

A wooden hut provided shelter but there were no water, toilets or games courts.  Parking was on the lawn.

Planning permission was granted in May `70 and the club bought its first piece of equipment – a scythe!

By the AGM, membership had risen to 28.

There was a special meeting in the November when it was agreed that “Pippin Enterprises”would loan the club money to develop the site.  

In June `71, 3 acres were sold to the County Council for £610 and a water supply to a single tap in the lawn had been laid on for £817.

The council used the land to store materials for road making.

A combination lock was put on the gate.

At the AGM the treasurer reported a balance of 2p, and it was decreed that members would work on Sundays!

On 6th June `72 Blackthorns was “On Camera” on BBC TV, a first in the region.

The local newspaper, “The Bedfordshire Times”, announced the plans for 15 other clubs in GB, with others throughout the world when finances allowed!

Camera permits were introduced and, in the November,, it was decided to produce a monthly newsletter.

The shell of the toilet block was finished, at a cost, including the cesspit, of about £1,097.

By January `73, however, all the club’s money was gone, and it was agreed that “Pippin Enterprises” would have to contribute financially.

In March the concrete path to the toilet block was finished and in July the club badge was chosen in a competition.

A15ft diameter pool was donated and installed for the summer, which also saw the first caravans on site and tents were often on the main lawn.

The toilet block was fitted out with all plastic plumbing and a small generator supplied erratic power to the hut.

On 26th August `73 the site was officially opened, and Anglia TV and a host of papers covered the event, with headlines such as, “A Garden of Eden”.  Lovely weather made the day.

At the AGM in `73 membership was reported as 76 units.

The Chairman and Secretary, both of long standing, resigned and the meeting voted in favour of a new clubhouse rather than a proper swimming pool.

The club rejoined the CCBN and in a first step towards mechanisation a tractor was part donated and part purchased for £228.50.

In `74 the springtime work started on “Canvas Campus” – the camping area and the suntrap was built and in the summer the top car park was opened.

In November we applied for permission for 12 additional caravans, and the local council threatened to put a tree preservation order on the wood.

1975 started badly when thieves stole the generator and various camping items.

Development was restricted to putting 20 tons of power station ash on the small car park and the bottom lawn was allocated for casual caravans.

In May, however, the CCBN National Supporter Rally was held at the club, resulting in much good publicity and many new members.

One article in the “Luton News” went on to win the CCBN National Press Prize for the year.

Sport came to the fore in `76.  The volleyball court was levelled, and the first miniten court was built for £412.07.

The first children’s sports day was held in August.

October saw the greatest step forward when, after years of debate, the size and location for the new pavilion were decided.  Work to clear the site started almost immediately, although planning permission for the building would not come before June `77.

In the spring of `77 the children’s play equipment was moved to its present location and water was laid on to the bottom road, and the Committee introduced the use of caravans and tent rule.

In August the Dinkum excavator was purchased for £400 and in appalling weather in November the shell of the long-awaited pavilion was at last erected.

The greatest change in `77 however, saw the Annual General Meeting agree unanimously that in future the club should be managed by “Pippin Enterprises Ltd” and run by officers appointed by the company.

Much of `78 was taken up with decorating and fitting out the new pavilion.  A bulk Calor Gas supply was put in to provide light and some heat and many materials were both donated and stolen!

When the president of  CCBN opened the building in August it was a tribute to the hard work of many people and had cost a total of £4,646.83.

The main entrance was tidied, and a new gate hung.

Ever conscious of the need to improve, 1979 saw a new diesel generator, (£739.80), the gas heater in the pavilion, (£299), and the cement mixer, (£90), all purchased, plus the decision to install a telephone.

The first Open House was held in March as a replacement for the club AGM.

The CCBN National Swimming Gala was held at Robinson Pool in Bedford.

In the spring of 1980, water was laid to all caravans.

The naturist sauna started at Bletchley, thanks to the efforts of 2 of our members.

Work on the shower block continued through `81 and in the autumn work started on the new miniten court, again paid for by donations.

The CCBN Swimming Gala was held once again, in Bedford and in November the naturist swimming on Sunday evenings started.

Work started on a permanent barbeque, and by the end of the year Blackthorns was celebrating its best ever year membership-wise.

Negotiations started for another major change – electricity.

In March of `83 the barbeque, although not finished, was used for the first time.

In August the shower block was opened, a welcome facility, which cost £5,260.29, and in October mains electricity at last arrived at Blackthorns at a cost of £10,189.95.

Lighting, heating and all facilities in the pavilion were improved at a stroke.

In October work commenced to create new car parking on the back road.

1984 is remembered for the official opening of the new miniten court.

The first ride-on mower was purchased, (£550).

The local Council again struck, this time requiring new drainage works, which were to cost the caravanners some £1,075.29.

The Farmhouse Kitchen opened to expand both catering horizons and waistlines.

And so the improvements and changes continued:

(Dates to be checked and included)

The Council, once finished with using their bit of land for storing hard core etc, supposedly ear-marked it as a possible Travellers’ Site so the club felt they had to prevent this happening by buying it back and that piece of land became known  as “Gravel Lea” with reference to the stones stored there.

It remains a pretty solid piece of ground to this day but is put to good use for events such as the BN National Petanque Tournament which we held every third year until recently. (2016)

The grass between the patio and the pool was taken up and the patio slabs extended to give us much more space for tables and chairs.

The Gents was refurbished in ’04 and the Ladies is next on the list for refurbishment, as are the showers.

We used Gravel Lea for our splendid bonfire and fireworks event every November but in the last few years we’ve not had a bonfire and have had the fireworks lit on the main lawn so that spectators can stand on the patio to view the display.

The clubhouse extension was completed in May ’06 to include a wood burner stove and a disabled access toilet with baby changing facilities.

The clubhouse was clad with its current wood effect panelling’

The Ladies and the Gents were both improved with refurbishment in ’08.

The sauna was completed in ’10.

The kitchen was refitted and facilities installed in the corridor beside it to give members 24hr access to making hot drinks.

A heat exchanger that obtains heat from the air was installed to keep the swimming pool water at a constant comfortable temperature from Easter to Autumn.

The swimming pool was totally refurbished in ’15 with a new liner, skimmers, lighting, steps & ladder.

The hot water boiler was replace so that the temperature remains steady however many people use it.

The Clubhouse floor was replaced.

The children’s clubhouse was rebuilt.

We had Wi-Fi made available to members.

As a club we never sit still but look to always catering for member’s needs and constantly upgrade and add to the facilities, making it the great club that we are extremely proud of. today.