The photo is part of a two page spread in the newspaper on the Motor Show, but there is no indication of who built it. However, on 1 June The Argus (page 21) reported that caravans would be amongst the special exhibits at the show.
There were a number of caravan manufacturers in Victoria in 1935, including Windmill, Wolfenden, Land Cruiser and Don, but this van does not seem to match any pics of the caravans produced by those makers that we have seen to date. If anyone has any clues or theories as to its origins, please feel free to post them.
Interestingly the van has leadlight windows, but it is not a Don.
This quote comes from the “Caravan Handbook” first published in 1972. There are a few assertions that may need verification by Jennison and..... there is mention of an Eric Wheeler & Nev Cook associated with the early days of Gypsy caravans that we haven't heard of before. I have contacted Carl of GandL who now owns the Gypsy Brand name and he had not heard those names before.... but will try to get confirmation for us.
In essence I think what the article states is reasonably accurate. From the full version of my grandmothers 1950s' interview which surfaced last year , JAJ built his first van around 1930 and from the interest it generated, saw that there was a quid in it, prompting his foray into commercial production, so 1932 would be about right. However, he did not patent his pop top till 1935, the first dated photo a 1934 model. The models of that era were indeed Road cruisers. They were made till 1936 according to the labelled photo in DHL. The Nomad vans were made after he moved to Sydney in 1935 till outbreak of the war. Initially he had greater success renting both Roadcruiser and Nomad fleet than selling them. People were still short of spare $$$ after the depression. What I believed to be "1939 early/prototype pathfinders" (which in every sense they were, as shown in the factory photos next to the flatter ended earlier Nomads) were according to my grandmother, "his revolutionary"model J Nomads, with the cranked axle, recessed floor, rounded ends etc. A great find indeed Cobber and thankyou very much regards jennison
Last Edit: Jun 2, 2011 22:04:37 GMT 10 by Jennison
Post by Don Ricardo on Sept 2, 2011 22:49:07 GMT 10
Reply #24 on this thread refers to the first caravan that we know of that was clad in aluminium, built in 1934.
1967 seems to have been a watershed year when the Australian caravan industry changed over from unpainted aluminium cladding to pre-coloured, baked acrylic finish aluminium cladding. It was clearly the "big, new thing" in caravan design in that year as these extracts from the reports on the Sydney and Melbourne Caravan Shows attest:
SYDNEY CARAVAN SHOW:
(Source: Australian Motor Monthly, December 1967, p 61)
Note also the comment in this report about the change from spray painted internal panels to pre-finished, polyester board which had become almost universal in between 1966 and 1967.
MELBOURNE CARAVAN SHOW from an article by Caravan World doyenne, Gwen Haslar:
(Source: Australian Motor Monthly, December 1967, pp 66 & 68)
Does this photo on the cover of a book published in 2002 by the Launceston library in Tasmania blow all previous assumption of when leisure caravanning started in Australia out of the water ?
It is the logs of two Tasmanian gentlemen, Frank Styant Brown and Joshua Higgs Jnr, who toured Tasmania in 1896 and again in 1899.
The tours were of a purely holiday nature similar to the trip taken by Dr. William Gordon Stables 11 years earlier in England, that tour was hailed as the first leisure caravan tour ever undertaken.
The book, "Voyages in a Caravan" has 126 pages including thirteen pages of "Explanatory Notes"... A two page "Select Bibliography" and a two page "Select Index to the Logs". The actual Logs consist of day by day accounts of their activities with photos or sketches on every page, all of which may not be reproduced without prior permission
Although Frank Styant Browne is not given credit for being a Touring Caravan Pioneer in Austraila he was acknowledged as an innovator in other fields.
He established a homeopathic pharmacy in Launceston in 1883.... his enthusiasm for photography led to the formation in 1889 of the Northern Tasmanian Camera Club... in 1891 he photographed some of the first Australian demonstrations of sound recording on wax cylinders...... in 1896 he obtained an X-Ray plant and later that year he was the first in Tasmania to demonstrate X-ray photography successfully.
There is more..... you can read his Biography HERE
I doubt that the Lauceston Library realise the significants of their book regarding the history of caravanning in Australia.
Post by Don Ricardo on Oct 16, 2016 12:56:58 GMT 10
I continue to be amazed at what pops out of the National Library of Australia's Trove and what a great resource it is!
The following article was published in the Sydney Sun newspaper on Sunday, 19 June 1938 (page 27), telling the good citizens of NSW...SHOCK, HORROR...that Victorians were showing more interest in caravanning than the residents of NSW, and that the caravan industry was advancing faster than that in NSW:
The article was accompanied by the four photos shown.
Apart from the comparison between Victoria and NSW (and our mothers taught us that comparisons are odious!), the article includes a number of interesting points: In 1938 it was estimated that there were 2,000 caravans on the road in Victoria...2/3's of those where "hobby jobs"...75% were estimated to be four-berth, and 25% were three or six-berth...250 caravans were hired out on holiday weekends...ten years before it had cost £1,500 to have a caravan built but by 1938 the cost of caravans had dropped to between £125 and £600, depending on the size and fitout...the interest in caravans had led to the development of the RACV Caravan Club, which by then had 67 members...Australian caravans were said to be built sturdier than UK or USA caravans in order to cope with our roads.
The description of the furnishings and fittings of the caravans in 1938 is also of interest. I was particularly amused by the comment regarding the kitchens: "Model kitchens are the rage in Victorian caravans, or they will be next season, for each manufacturer is outdoing his competition in making them more compact than a pocket knife."
The article refers to some prominent Victorians who had joined the caravanning ranks. One of these was 'Mr George Nicholas of Aspro'. (We know from another article posted on the forum here that George Nicholas' caravan was actually a 'motor caravan' (ie motor home) built on a Rolls Royce chassis by Romany Road.) Reference is also made in the Sun article to John Porter's interest in constructing caravan parks, but in the late 1930's and the 1940's John Porter became known for his 'how to' books on building caravans.
The two left hand photos accompanying the article are also very interesting to see. The folding caravan is a Carefree Foldout van built by Herbert Cordell. The other is labelled "A caravan park (Sydney) trailer near Explorer's Tree, Katoomba". That van is actually a Caravan Park van built by R J Rankin. In the early 50's 'Caravan Park' was renamed 'Carapark'. Photos of early Caravan Parks are not very common, so it is wonderful to see this example.
Not surprisingly an article suggesting that the caravan industry in NSW was lagging behind that in Victoria drew a strong reaction. An article published in the Sydney Sun a week later on Sunday, 26 June 1938 (page 54) stated in no uncertain terms that 'N.S.W. Models Just as Good as Victorian' and protested loudly that the newspaper had not been suggesting that Victorian caravans were superior to those built in NSW...
As can be seen, the majority of the article consists of two letters written in response to the original article, one by S V Bligh, who was Managing Director of Jennison Caravan Cruiser Pty Ltd, and the other by R J Rankin, the founder of Caravan Park - two heavyweights in the NSW caravan industry to be sure, in terms of the organisations they represented at least. We know who Rankin was, but I haven't come across S V Bligh before. Perhaps Jennison will be able to enlighten us on that score?
Note S V Bligh's comment: "Today the 12 ft up to 18 ft rigid roof caravan is an accepted fact with the public. The owners of these amply demonstrate the practicality of the large residential caravan...". This perhaps provides some insight into why Jennison had moved from its original pop-top caravan to a rigid roof model. In the end it comes down to what the public wants to buy.
Very interesting indeed DONR I can't recall a Bligh in any of the stuff we've been through. There was the fellow (a businessman who had a roadcruiserbuilt)who persuaded JAJ to deliver the van and move back to Sydney to build them there. Can't recall his name though. Don't think it was Bligh. Jenno
Post by Don Ricardo on Aug 18, 2020 11:46:36 GMT 10
We are all aware at the moment of the impact that the NSW and Victorian bushfires earlier this year, and the current Covid-19 pandemic is having on the tourist industry. There are frequent reports of just how tough things are for many accommodation and attraction providers.
For this reason, I was interested in coming across the following article published in 1937 which reported on the fears that hotel keepers and other accommodation providers had about the devastating impact the 'caravanning craze' would have on their livelihoods. The article was printed in the Sydney Sun on Sunday, 9 May 1937 (page 13):
The article notes that there were only a few hundred caravans in Sydney at the time, nevertheless it predicted that the end was nigh for country accommodation providers. Caravans and particularly campers were described as being a potential 'death blow' for guest houses, which is pretty dramatic language!
The article concludes with this comment:
"Our only hope Is that camping and caravanning does not increase," said one well-known proprietor at Port Macquarie. But with the Australian's love of freedom and sunshine his hopes seem doomed.
Well the number of caravans did increase, and things didn't turn out so badly overall. However, it is now the lack of caravanners that are creating problems for many tourist spots during the pandemic. At the same time our neighbour, who is a Jayco dealer, tells me his sales have gone through the roof in recent months, so there's going to be some pent up demand for caravan parks and free camping sites once we can all get out again!
Note - the layout of the article has been altered from the original to improve readability on the forum)
Interesting to read about the regulations in force in NSW for caravans in 1936, including a registration fee of £1 plus 2/9 (2 shillings and 9 pence) per half hundredweight over 5 cwt for caravans weighing more than 5 cwt. And note that you were not permitted to tow more than one caravan at a time unless you got police permission! Spoil sports! Not like New Zealand where up until the late 60's (I think) you could tow a boat behind your caravan.
I am also interested in the advice by the writer to the would-be amateur home builder:
"In conclusion, I would like to utter a warning to those contemplating the construction of a home-made trailer-caravan — DON'T.
"Some motorists, after a lot of hard work and a good deal of expense, have found the finished jobs most unsatisfactory.
"In some cases the home-made caravan has been built without regard to proper weight distribution, resulting in the trailer pulling the car off the road or causing it to swerve into the tracks of oncoming vehicles.
"Even if you are a good mechanic, it is better to realise that the building of trailer caravans is more within the domain of the bodybuilder, and Is really a job for the specialist."
Despite the advice which no doubt had a lot of merit, there were a lot of home builders who were not deterred from having a go. We have seen some superb home-built caravans from the 30's and later, but I suspect that there may have been more than a few which were not properly balanced 'resulting in the trailer pulling the car off the road or causing it to swerve into the tracks of oncoming vehicles'. Maybe some of those were taken on a maiden voyage and were never taken on another trip? And I hear anecdotally that the problem of imbalance still bedevils even modern, commercially built caravans, some of which are exceedingly difficulty to tow! Another example of what's new being old!