The popularity of caravanning exploded in the 50s and 60s as more British families had access to a motor car. Wartime petrol rationing had ended and without limitations on fuel caravanners could once again venture further afield.
Caravan tours of Europe became more popular after the first ‘drive on’ ferry was introduced in 1953. Demand for information on travelling abroad became so high that The Caravan Club launched a Foreign Sites Directory in addition to the UK version that had been running since the 30s.
The rise in caravanners led to a demand for more pitches. Many private landowners opened their fields as camp sites for holidaymakers. In 1951 the first Site fully managed by The Caravan Club opened at Crystal Palace, accommodating visitors to London’s Festival of Britain attractions.
Over the next two decades The Club developed a network of caravan sites for its growing number of members. Unlike the farmer’s field traditionally used by caravanners, these modern sites offered toilet blocks, washing facilities and levelled pitches.
Attendance of The Caravan Club’s rally events boomed in the 50s and 60s. The annual National Rally was particularly popular. Members towed from across the UK to spend a social weekend on the grounds of stately homes such as Chatsworth and Sandringham.
After 1963 these events, along with other caravan news, were reported in The Club’s very own magazine called En Route. The publication replaced The Caravan magazine as the official member’s journal after The Club gained independence from its owner Link House Publications in 1959.
During the 1960s the number of new cars on British roads more than doubled. Caravan manufacturers competed to produce the most affordable, reliable and comfortable touring ‘vans for the increasing number of motorists. For the first time the caravan holiday was available to the masses.
The manufacturer Caravans International was a particular success story, with their affordable Sprite Alpine model becoming the biggest selling ‘van of all time. In 1967 The Caravan Club allowed motor caravan owners to join for the first time after in an increase in their popularity.
In the 50s and 60s manufacturers could compete to showcase the roadworthiness of their ‘vans at The Caravan Club’s Road Rally competitions. To gain a leading edge many caravans were modified for the events. This shaped developments in caravan safety and design, encouraging an increase in speed limits.
By the late 1960s countless innovations had been introduced to make caravans a real home from home. Fridges, electric lighting, running water and showers gradually became features that early caravan pioneers could only have dreamed of.
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