This year celebrates the 100th anniversary of the first ever commercially produced towing caravan. Caravanning has a long and noble history, and despite having been around for centuries as dwellings, touring caravans were only used for leisure in 1919.
Now with over half a million touring caravans being owned in the UK, this adventurous pastime has never been more popular.
With Brexit on the horizon, Brits remain Europe’s biggest buyers of touring caravans and staycationing is increasing in popularity every year with people now opting for shorter, mini-break holidays.
But it hasn’t always been the comfortable, modern models we see today.
From humble beginnings, caravans were first pulled by horses in the 1800s for showmen who worked and toured the country.
However in 1880, an 18-foot leisure “Gentleman’s Caravan” was created for author Doctor William Stables, who wrote about adventure fiction and was fascinated by this method of nomadic living. He toured the British countryside and documented his travels in a book he entitled The Gentleman Gypsy. This moved the Duke of Newcastle to commission his own caravan The Bohemian and made caravanning a desirable form of leisure and travel.
As the popularity of adventure grew, and in typical British fashion, the need to arrange things in an orderly way led to the birth of caravanning clubs, such as The Camping and Caravanning Club in 1901, which meant the practice of caravanning as a holiday became a viable and appealing option.
In 1919, Eccles Motor Transport became the first car pulled caravan and marks the time commercial touring was born.
After World War Two, Eccles produced the Enterprise which was small, affordable and mass produced making caravanning affordable for more people than ever to many.
This year, the Eccles caravan is celebrating its 100th anniversary. It was marketed as ‘the holiday problem solved’ to tell people of the delights of caravanning and show how enjoyable and flexible a holiday with a caravan could be. The model went on display at the 1922 Motor Show in White City, which proved fruitful and led to the company moving into a larger factory.
The model’s popularity continued to thrive, all the way through until the 1990’s where the company was bought by Swift Group, which continues to manufacture the model today, although under new ranges and given a contemporary upgrade, with one model winning ‘Caravan of the Year’ at the 2008 Which Caravan awards.
Early images provided by The Camping and Caravanning Club show how developed caravan models and sites have become since first introduced to the market.
An original Eccles model was also on display at this year’s Caravan and Motorhome Show in Manchester recently, so for details of the next show go to www.caravanshows.com.
Caravanning remains as popular as ever and offering an ideal way for families to get together and enjoy the beauty of holidaying in the UK as well as further afield.