The development of new technologies during World War One led to a revolution in caravan design.
In 1919 the first mass produced trailer caravan was introduced by Eccles of Birmingham. Towable by the motor car, trailer caravans were more affordable than traditional horse-drawn ‘vans and appealed to a new generation of caravanner.
Numerous caravan companies set up business in the years before World War Two building, trading and hiring out ‘vans to the growing number of holidaymakers.
By the 1930s horse-drawn caravans, unfit for new roads developed for motoring, were abandoned. The future of The Caravan Club looked bleak. Membership numbers fell as ageing Club founder J Harris Stone struggled to run the organisation almost on his own.
A lifeline was offered by the owners of The Caravan and Trailer magazine (later renamed The Caravan), a publication aimed at modern trailer caravanners. In 1935 Stone handed over The Club which was reformed as a limited company directed by its new owners.
The Caravan Club was re-launched in 1935 and membership numbers grew quickly. A community spirit was revived in The Club. Groups of members living in the same local areas formed Centres which organised their own rallies and social events.
Information such as a directory of sites was issued, recommending places to pitch in the UK. Meanwhile The Caravan magazine offered advice on trailer caravanning and news of innovations including the introduction of bottled gas for improved cooking, heating and lighting in the ‘van.
In 1938 the government passed the Holidays with Pay Act. For the first time workers were paid for time off making leisure pursuits like caravanning more affordable.
However, only a year later free time was put on hold on the outbreak of World War Two. Caravan holidays immediately declined. Petrol rationing curbed leisure travel and camping was banned along England’s South and East Coasts. For the duration of the war the trailer caravans took on new roles including ambulances and mobile Air Raid Warden Shelters.
On the outbreak of war many city dwelling caravan owners evacuated to the countryside in their ‘vans. Many spent the duration of the conflict living in their caravans.
Touring caravans also became home to those whose homes were destroyed by enemy bombing raids. The Caravan Club offered vital advice to those using caravans as temporary homes, particularly during the cold winter months.
As the war ended leisure caravanners gradually returned to the road in search of relaxation and adventure…
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