The history of the leisure caravan
27 June 2012
We all know about the importance of checking a caravan's history when deciding whether or not to buy one, but how much thought do you give to the history of caravannng itself?
Although some people would argue that people took to the roads as soon as they climbed down from the trees, however the history of leisure camping is somewhat more complex and started over a century ago.
In England, the caravan first came about during the early 1800s but they were more functional than fun, often used as shelter or travelling coaches for workers.
The idea of caravanning for fun came from Thomas Hiram Holding, a London tailor who had crossed the American prairies in 1853 and was inspired. He started the idea of cycling and camping and founded an Association of Cycle Campers.
However, Club knowledge shows that the first purpose-built touring caravan, the Wanderer, was created in 1885 to a design by Dr William Gordon Stables, and it was the inspiration behind the founding of the Club. It was a luxurious horse-drawn caravan which was made from mahogany lined with maple. Its first trip was travelling 1,300 miles from the doctor's home at Twyford in Berkshire to Inverness in Scotland.
The Caravan Club itself has a history of more than a century as it was founded in June 1907 and held its inaugural meeting at the Whitehall Rooms in London in February 1908.
The Club's impressive history is entwined with the history of Britain itself; in 1916 Club members provided caravans to the Red Cross in order to provide aid during the First World War and in 1918 they delivered fifty caravans within 24 hours to Field Marshal Haig following the German withdrawal.
In the 1950s, the Caravan Club welcomed some royal fans when HRH Prince Philip was appointed Patron and a young Prince Charles and Princess Anne were presented with fully working miniature caravans.
Throughout the 10th and 21st century the Club continued to evolve with the UK, remaining true to tradition while embracing modern comforts. In 2008, Poolsbrook Country Park Caravan Club Site officially opened as the 'greenest' site in the UK thanks to its solar panels, water recycling and wind turbine.