Initially, caravans were labelled ‘playthings of the privileged minority’. When caravanning became popular in the 30s, this was probably the case as, although a caravan cost only four hundred pounds, it was big money then.
Around the time of the second world war, holidays and caravan production came to a standstill and it was in 1946 when Sam Alpar (known as the Henry Ford of the caravan industry) took the interest in producing affordable caravans from war surplus materials. A year later, Sam had sold five hundred caravans in twelve months: the price for each was £199! A caravan was made with Spitfire wheels and, to test its sustainability, Sam, accompanied by the press, travelled a little over ten thousand miles in just thirty days, taking in the terrain of Turkey, Greece, Austria, Switzerland, Germany and Holland.
In the fifties, car ownership increased and caravanning became very stylish again. A four to five berth Sprite Major would sell for four hundred pounds and there were other well-known makes, such as the Eccles and the Regency.
When the sixties arrived, caravans were forced to stay on regulated sites but this proved to be a good thing, for the sites then began to provide clubhouses and entertainment. Gone was the freedom of the road but here was the one-stop shop, providing everything for caravan holidaymakers.
It was in the seventies that package holidays started but, during the caravan heyday, England had more caravans that any other country in the world.
Even today, the love affair with the caravan continues. However, there are now two distinct lines of interest in the caravan culture.
Caravan clubs are still popular, owners towing their maybe vintage caravans to meet other likeminded people at a designated spot, where they can while away the weekend, with those same likeminded people.
The other supporters are those who pay yearly rental for a permanent site for their possibly larger caravans. No longer a plaything of the privileged minority, caravans now give a feeling of ‘away-ness’ to all classes.
Today, some people choose the static caravan as permanent accommodation but times have moved on and the old style caravan now has competition from a more sustainable and eco-friendly container home. Made from a twenty foot or even longer shipping container, a container home can address all green issues e.g. rainwater harvesting, grey water, heating etc.), supporting today’s environment, whilst cutting bills for the householder. The My Space Pod website provides comprehensive information about such living accommodation and they support you through all the stages, including the necessary paperwork!
Today’s lifestyle is transient and putting down routes in a fixed accommodation is not necessarily a profitable move. As with static caravans, the eco-friendly shipping container home can be relocated, should the need arise and, once you have your home how you want it, why change it for another?