1919 saw the first car-towed caravan enter commercial production here in the UK. The date marks the rise of caravanning for leisure and the start of the growth of the camping and caravanning industry.
It all began shortly before the start of the internal combustion engine era when a Scottish medic, Dr William Stables commissioned his ‘Wanderer’ caravan, which was hauled by two horses.
Following the horrors of the First World War, and with the growth in the number of personal motor cars, Britons were looking for new ways to spend their leisure time. Bill Eccles Snr of Eccles Motor Transport Ltd spotted a potential new and lucrative market, and created the world’s first prototype of a caravan, specifically designed to be towed behind a car.
In 1919, he sold the first prototype to the Dowager Countess Rhonda and soon had 50 more orders on his books. During the 1920s, he continued finessing his designs with th company becoming a world leader. The caravan was shown at the 1922 Motor Show in White City, which increased demand even further.
Today it is estimated that around one million Britons own a caravan or motorhome, and that the industry is worth about £6 billion to the economy each year. According to the National Caravan Club, 130,000 people are employed in the industry and Britons spend approximately £2 billion and stay 50 million nights in caravans each year. That’s an awful lot of nights! We found this history in pictures, which you may like to take a look at.