Vintage” caravans have quite recently begun to attract much wider attention than they had previously enjoyed. Those that haven’t collapsed in a forgotten heap long ago are being dragged out of hedges and barns and restored by enthusiasts to their full period glory – and it is not hard to see why, for the wonderful variety and in many cases sheer boldness of their styling, ranging wildly from mock Tudor to teardrop streamline, makes them extraordinarily attractive to today’s eyes, accustomed as we are to the bland uniformity of current offerings. In this book may be found details of manufacturers in Britain who started up before World War II. About half of them had ceased trading by 1939 and a number of others did not return to production after the War. Where makers did start up again details have been included and, whilst nearly all of these have since gone out of business, Carlight and Eccles are marques which still exist today – albeit under different ownership. All of them, from ABC to Yorkshire, and their products, are included in these pages, with the exception of the ones of which there is no surviving record. Roger Ellesmere’s painstaking research over a number of years has yielded information on 177 makers from this period, whose outputs ranged from around 300 caravans per year down to six, but it is doubtful whether even 20 of these firms were producing the 50 vans a year needed to qualify for membership of the Caravan Manufacturers’ Association. Accompanying the text are more than 300 illustrations, a pleasing mixture of archive photographs with reproductions from manufacturers’ advertising and publicity material, including some splendid period artwork. This ingredient in particular gives a strong flavour of the days when these caravans were to be seen out and about on Britain’s roads, heading for happy holidays. Published in association with The Caravan Club, this book surely has a place on the bookshelf of every caravanner interested in how the caravans we know today have evolved over the 90-odd years since the first trailer caravans were built for sale. It is hoped that the publishers will soon be able to bring out Volume Two, in which Roger Ellesmere will deal with the many hundreds of firms who took up making caravans after 1945.
British Caravans: Volume1: Makes Founded Before World War II