The history of caravans
Gypsies were seen as leading romantic nomadic lifestyles. The manner in which they travelled at will, whilst telling tales of those places visited, began to appeal to people. Dr Gordon Stables retired from the Navy in the 1860’s and grew curious of gypsy travel, so curious he commissioned a wagon maker to construct a gypsy style caravan. Stables wagon, The Wandered, was created and is still in existence today.
The First World War came in 1914, causing dwindling numbers of horses and caravans as many were used by the army. It was in this period that a father and son team (Riley) bought a haulage company called Eccles Motor Transport. They built a primitive motorhome on a car chassis, with a good deal of interest from the motoring press. The war stalled further development, and it was only after peace was restored that the Riley’s looked at the car pulled two-wheel caravan.
During the 1930’s caravan manufacturers again turned to war work, but in doing so learnt about the developments and production of caravans on mass. It was a great leaning curve, enabling them to make products cheaper. This led to a long-line of manufactures establishing themselves in the caravan market, with the likes of Streamlite, Bluebird, Eccles and Thomson Caravans. Manufacturers were now returning and caravan sites began to expand.
The 60’s became an exciting time for all those associated with caravans, oil was cheap and standards were better than pre or post-war Britain. Britain was embracing a booming caravan market, families were taking advantage of the affordable caravans and taking advantage of the caravan sites popping up all over the country.
The beginning of the 80’s didn’t start well for caravan makers such as Stirling, Royale, Churchill and Thompson were forced out of business. Even the giant Caravan International Group closed at the end of 1982. Twin axle tourers began making big strides by the mid 80’s and luckily these contributed to a steady incline is sales, as production rose again.