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The evolution of the static caravan

The evolution of the static caravan  

This week we look at the British holiday and see how they have changed, from flying abroad for luxury holidays to camping and caravanning in the countryside. Over the years the caravan industry has changed and the future is looking bright!  

With so many advertisements promoting static caravan holidays it’s hard to choose which one is best.  Manufacturers now make caravans to any spec you would like! With double glazing, central heating, Bluetooth features and Willerby now make a caravan with an upstairs to make your perfect holiday get away, but of course your perfect holiday get away comes with the matching price tag.  

These modern features haven’t always been the case with static caravans. Would you like to know how it all got started?  

Of course, the developments we see now have not overnight and was influenced by the Americans creating trailer parks with proper roadways and plots in the 1930’s, this was slowly beginning to be taken seriously and caravanning wasn’t just becoming a holiday luxury but a way of living too. In the UK, using a caravan for “stay-out” holidays had already taken root by the early 1900’s. Well off families would have them transported by train to their chosen holiday destination where they were taken by the road pitched and sited, when the summer had finished the process would re-start. The van would be de-sited and brought back and kept till the following summer, the idea of moving with the caravan had started to be implemented. However, caravanners soon started to get frustrated with having to move everything with them and back when they have finished. Eventually more and more owners were asking landowners and famers for pitches on their land where they could leave their caravan until the next spring, holiday or weekend. Here is where the foundations for caravan sites begun, with caravans being left for ‘static’ use, maybe staying for years on one plot. By the 1930’s a small number of unofficial sites had started with just a few tourers sited. 

After seeing the development and growing desire for caravans’ companies like Eccles and Balmforth Sanderson began to design larger vans of 16-18ft in length, including extra bedrooms, living space and maybe an extra toilet!  

By the 1940’s WW2 was upon us and caravans were being left sited due to petrol shortages and after the war these unofficial sites became permanent. But new laws saw sites close or upgrade with better road systems, landscaping and toilet blocks, allowing them to become a permanent fixture. The static caravan has arrived! Becoming longer, wider and sites started to mains water. By the 1950’s the static caravan industry started to boom, more and more people wanted static caravan holidays and to hire them out, especially by the sea! After WW2 life was starting to return to some sort or normality, and the static caravan industry helped it a lot! By the end of the 1950’s sites where having shops, swimming pools, clubhouses and outdoor activities with entertainment laid on. 

Wyndham Park Caravan Site 1950’s 

The caravan industry was now on a constant high, continuously growing!  By the 1960’s this would also be the time where parks became fully plumbed, better equipped and caravans were improving year on year. Additionally, shower blocks and baths where now available alongside with loo blocks being more modern. The smaller and quieter parks were seeking additional planning to make their parks bigger and more furnished with the mod cons such as swimming pools, clubhouses and entertainment, after the war it wasn’t easy to get planning permission for caravan parks due to very strict laws! In day-to-day life items such as greenhouses, garden sheds and TV aerials all would need to get planning permission.  

By the 1970’s some holiday parks were adding mains sewerage, as well as electrics, as the new holiday caravan owner demanded more for their money. Manufacturers provided upgrade caravans such as the classic Willerby Vogue and Pemberton. In some cases, they bought caravan parks such as Bluebird, Belmont and one-time big Scottish maker Thomson. Holiday caravan hire was big business by the 70s, especially in seaside areas and parks on the south and east coasts of the UK saw masses of static caravans in neat rows. 

Cleethorpes 2 1970’s 

By the 1980’s full main supplies and indoor swimming pools were added to the bigger caravan parks with the modest gas light disappearing by the mid 1980’s as all electrics and washrooms became mainly standard for new holiday homes.  

Now in the 1990’s we were light years away from where we started! Caravan parks kept growing and growing and manufacturers were coming up with competitive ways to outsmart their competition. Companies like Willerby, Carnaby, BK and Atlas where all growing! Caravan parks in the 1990’s started to become environmentally friendly. The once basic overgrown tourer with gas lights and bucket loo was to become a distant memory too! Of course, as the internet developed caravan park owners found an new way of advertising bringing more people in and of course extended season opening in a result of the popularity.  

Fast forward 20 years to November 2019, the coronavirus hit. Leaving lasting impact on the caravan industry. The reason many small independent parks where closing, people being forced off their parks by greedy park owners, losing their homes, lives and many more. Small parks being taken over by the ‘big dogs’ or caravanning. 

The 21st century has proved a how much progression the caravanning industry has made! Manufactures have developed enough knowledge over the years to pretty make anything to any spec. With WIFI, multiple bedrooms and bathrooms, upstairs to your caravan and many more opportunities and activities on site such as rock-climbing, archery, Segway’s, minigolf and many more.  
But the question is, what do you think the future will hold for the caravan industry? Will it continue to blossom like it has for the past 90 years? Or will the coronavirus lead to the destruction of the caravan world? Only time will tell… 

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