Back home at last. Only had wifi access a few weeks ago and no time to wait for the photo to come up. Now I have seen it what a beauty indeed! Once again thanks to all for their top detective work. Another for the records Interesting that we have a closer idea of dating for JAJs many company names over the years....1930 to1937..... jennison caravan cruisers, Nomad.....1938/39 and jennison trailer engineering as shown on the wildeshott van..... jan 1939. Jennison and Burrill trailer engineering post war jennison
Last Edit: Nov 5, 2011 14:40:31 GMT 10 by Jennison
Post by Don Ricardo on Oct 7, 2013 21:26:12 GMT 10
This evening I received an email from Jennison with a photo of a Jennison Cruiser passed on to him by Vantoura:
Jennison thinks - and I agree with him - that the photo appears to show the caravan with a light dusting of snow on it. I am interested what others think?
A couple of other questions:
What do you reckon the shape on the pop-top is, apart from the shadow of an eagle!?
What does the number plate tell us about the possible date of the photo? When was that type of number plate used for trailers in NSW?
Thanks for sharing the pic Jennison and Vantoura - a great find.
Don Ricardo Photo acknowledgement: A more recent post on this thread here has revealed that the Jennison Cruiser caravan shown above belonged to renowned Australian artist and cartoonist William Edwin Pidgeon, known as WEP. The photo was taken from a blog on WEP's work and life by his son, Peter. Further photos of the caravan can be found by following the links in the post below. Don Ricardo
I'm no expert on snow, but that's what it looks like to me, or a really heavy frost, my cars used to look similar some frosty mornings before I moved to suburbia.
The L plate is interesting, as far as I know they were only issued for use on lorries in NSW, between 1910 and 1937 according to a Wikipedia article I consulted. One of my club magazines had a good article on plates recently, but I can't lay my hands on it.
Only recently I saw this L plate on an old truck, only the 2nd one I've ever seen, and while it looks a bit hand made (and often were as only one was issued I think) it has NSW vertically on the left side and not at the top as it appears on the van photo, and L plates for NSW were a black background. It would fit with the period of the van, but I wouldn't have thought a van would be issued the L plate.
Was L prefix used in other States? Tasmania perhaps, might fit with some snow too.
looks smaller than the "frosty" photo! More in keeping with the size that the original patent plans seem to represent..... yet you look at the old photos with my mum and uncle and grandfather near it and the inside shot , the frosty looks about the same size jenno
Post by Don Ricardo on Oct 12, 2013 17:01:13 GMT 10
Hi Griffin, Cobber and Jennison,
Some interesting posts on the "frosty" Jennison Cruiser.
Griffin: That's a great Wikipedia article you've referred us to in relation to the "L" number plate on the caravan. There's a wealth of info listed, and very detailed. Following your lead, I found another website here that provides useful info on Australian number plates, and that confirms your info on the "L" number plates.
I was interested to see that the examples of "L" plates on both websites are black lettering on white plates, like the plate on the Cruiser caravan, while your example from a truck was white lettering on a black plate, so there must have been a variation or change at some point.
As you've suggested, it's a bit of a mystery why there should be an "L" truck number plate on the "frosty" van, given that NSW also had trailer plates at the time...unless the van was actually on a truck chassis, or was effectively a fifth wheeler... But, I've had a close look at the pic, and think it's pretty clear that neither of those are true.
In any case, the use of the "L" number plate would seem to indicate that the van was registered before the end of 1937, which would fit with what we know of the timeline for John Jennison's caravan building activities.
Cobber and Jennison: I think it is always difficult to assess the comparative length of caravans when they are based on photos taken at slightly different angles, etc. In this case the two vans are (and I'm not sure whether you've noticed this - I only just noticed it a day or so ago myself) of a different design: The "frosty" van has a ducktail style rear end, whereas the little 10 footer has a 'tail tucked under' rear end. I think the ducktail design will make a van look longer, even if it's not.
Given all of that though, I think the "frosty" van is actually longer than the 10 footer, because the pop-top section seems longer, and I think I can just see that the van has two windows on the off-side. My guess is that that means that it is a longer van - maybe 12 ft? Nothing for it, Jennison - you're just going to have track the "frosty" down!
By the bye, the ducktail on the "frosty" van makes this a very interesting photo, simply because it is the only ducktail Jennison we've seen. All the other Jennison Cruiser vans we've seen, either in photos or drawings, have the 'tail tucked under' design! Something else we've discovered about Grandfather John's vans, Jennison.
There is also somewhere in the jennison history files a photo of a pop top with the roof down where you can see the join between the pop top part and the rest of the roof, I seem to remember it was a much longer looking version than the patent plans model jenno
Last Edit: Oct 12, 2013 18:04:56 GMT 10 by Jennison
Vantoura has done it again with some great super sleuthing and has solved the pop top snow photos question and turned up some more beaut shots of the same van holiday. I am hoping he can send me copies of the pics and article for my collection and I can add them to this history thread as well. Well done Richard and for those interested you can see them on the Jennison thread on OTP. Jenno
Last Edit: Apr 19, 2014 21:25:48 GMT 10 by Jennison
Post by pidgeoncoop on Jul 9, 2015 23:30:47 GMT 10
I received a comment yesterday on my blog regarding my father’s old caravan; informing me it was a Jennison Road Cruiser caravan. I immediately Googled this looking for images to confirm that information and came across this board discussing an old van which you have all nicknamed “Frosty.” I was somewhat stunned to see the picture as it is my father’s van (NSW Rego L 56 751). The picture (or part of it) has been sourced from my Flickr album. The original picture can be seen here www.flickr.com/photos/wepidgeon/8620740965/in/album-72157633171346766/
I have quite a few photos of the van. My father was William Edwin Pidgeon (Wep) and his first wife’s name was Jess. Wep was a well known cartoonist and illustrator for a number of Sydney newspapers. In 1933 he laid up the dummy for The Australian Women’s Weekly and was associated with them and the Daily/Sunday Telegraph till 1949 when he departed to concentrate on full time portrait painting. His relaxation time was doing landscapes. Bill and Jess used the van a lot. My mother (Dorothy) was Wep’s second wife. They married in 1954 after Jess died of a brain tumour. Mum and Dad also used the van but I unfortunately never had the opportunity of a holiday in it. I remember it well though as a young boy in the 1960s. It was parked in our yard and I used to play in it. It was a special place that I found fascinating and I loved it. I can still remember it’s smell imprinted into my memory. It was light cream in colour with a large red flash. The interior was red vinyl. I’m pretty sure it was not leather. I guess it was the vinyl that gave it ‘that’ smell. The van and Dad’s old black 1935 Pontiac 8 (also parked adjacent to the driveway since about 1961) were eventually disposed of around 1969/70. It was probably around the time my father won his 3rd Archibald Prize in 1969. My mother would not let me play in “Baldy Bill” (the old Pontiac) for fear of spiders. How I would love to have them both myself nowadays.
Anyway, to answer some of the questions.
The picture was taken on a trip around June 1938 with Australia’s greatest humourist, Lennie Lower. The editor of the Telegraph had asked Dad to take Lennie on a writing trip with strict instructions not to let him buy any drink. They were camped on the banks of the Snowy River at Jindabyne at a spot which is now well and truly submerged under Lake Jindabyne. And yes, it is snow on the van. The ‘eagle’ shape, is merely an area of melted snow, probably from the heat generated inside by a heater or a cooker. The van’s roof has a darker colour. I don’t have many photos that show the roof but it almost looks like a vinyl insert. I think this particular trip was the first real trip undertaken with the Pontiac which Dad had bought the previous Christmas in December 1937. Earlier trips were undertaken with another old beauty, a 1928 Chrysler 72 Roadster. Oh would I love one of those. I have not pinned down yet when Wep bought the van but suspect it was around 1935. He and Jess married in Aug 1933. Also, yes, the van does have two windows on the off side.
I have a blog in which I feature the 1938 trip with Lennie Lower but I have a more significant trip featured which was undertaken over 6 months in 1937 when Wep took time off from the Australian Women’s Weekly and toured around New South Wales and south east Queensland.
Post by Don Ricardo on Jul 11, 2015 13:39:34 GMT 10
It's great to read about your father's life and work, as well as to read about his caravanning exploits in the Jennison Cruiser. It's wonderful also to know the background to the photo of the van which we had already seen. Some of the photos of the 1937 trip are so evocative - a single caravan set up in a wide and empty land! And the photos of the van in the snow? Well, there's not many of us that have experienced that!
Another reason why it's so excellent to see your father's photos is that the Jennison Cruiser - with it's mechanical 'pop-top' - was an innovative and significant development in the Australian caravan industry which as far as we know pre-dated its development in a number of other countries world wide. Unfortunately we have very few photos of a Jennison Cruiser model, so that makes your photos very precious, not only from your family's point of view (which is signicant enough on its own) but from the perspective of Australian caravan history. Funnily enough the 'pop-top' was re-invented in the late 60's with the developers thinking that they had a first on their hands, but not realising that someone else had developed the concept 30 years previously.
Thanks again for making contact with us and for your post.
Post by pidgeoncoop on Jul 13, 2015 1:21:52 GMT 10
Hi Don Ricardo,
You mentioned that the ducktail on Dad's van was the first you had seen. So now I am on the search to zero in when Dad bought his van. I first thought it was 1935 bust suspect it was 1936 now; he left on his 6 month trip in Mar 1937. Anyway, I presume members are aware of the wonderful resource provided to us via the National Library of Australia called Trove (trove.nla.gov.au). So I decided to do a search of newspapers and came up with the following advertisement for the very same type of van with ducktail (The Supreme) in Sydney's Truth
It says it was available in 3 and 4 berth configuration. My memory seems to tell me that Dad's was a 3 berther but keep in mind that my memory is of a young boy nearly 50 years ago. If I ever saw inside one again then maybe the memories will come to the forefront more clearly once more.
I think many of us have spent hours on the wonderful Trove site, I certainly have but never turned up much for early Jennison there. The Truth is an addition since I was searching and lots of papers have been added to the site in the past couple of years so more time required it seems to find all the treasures. That Jennison ad was a beauty. I've found some makers tended to prefer certain papers so the Truth might be the one for more attention. Jennison advertised a lot in the NRMA Open Road but I've not had a chance to revisit their archives for anything pre 1938.
Great stuff on your blog and Flickr sites, love the photos in the snow, thanks for bringing them to our attention.
Post by pidgeoncoop on Jul 13, 2015 15:42:36 GMT 10
George, you are right, Trove adds more papers every day. I have mentioned to the NLA a few times that there are several Sydney newspapers they should be adding as they tend to have many more social interest stories with pictures and drawing as opposed to the somewhat stodgy old Sydney Morning Herald. Naturally these are the papers that my father worked on; Evening News (they have some now), Sunday News (only got 1919 so far), Daily Guardian, Sunday Guardian and Daily and Sunday Telegraph. Dad was with the Telegraph and Women's Weekly from 1933 onwards so good chance he came across it there. The Truth was something certain society did not own up to reading; a bit like Number 96 and The Box. No one ever watched them but knew the plots detail by detail :-)
Always worth while checking Trove regularly. I find it invaluable for forensic analysis.
Peter, I'm sure in time NLA will get all these papers on the system, and it seems the quality is far better on the new additions. I never experienced the 'Truth' first hand, but heard it talked about as a kid and it turns out my grandparents divorce got about 3/4 of a page coverage in 1938, quite a family scandal!! I'm hopeful the 'Labour Daily' will find its way there soon, I'm looking for information on some Sam Hood photographs, someone your dad may have worked with too I should imagine. 'Table Talk' magazine is a great thing to have on Trove now too, although I've already spent weeks at the Library going through it. There is still stuff to find in its motoring section now that you can punch it into Trove rather than scanning pages as you flick through.
Post by pidgeoncoop on Nov 18, 2015 8:50:50 GMT 10
Hi Don Ricardo, Jennison and all. I have just uploaded an album to Flickr of 53 images with Dad's 1936/37 model Jennsion Supreme Caravan Cruiser. Recently found a small print of Dad and Jess inside the van most likely taken when they first bought it or at the outset of their 6 month caravan journey in March 1937. Will have to re-scan it at a higher resolution. Most of these images are of 120 format negatives. When I first scanned them I was not able to capture the full negative just a strip hence the widescreen format. I have a new scanner which can now do larger negative formats and plan to redo these in the new year. Hope you all enjoy these as a taster for the full images to come later. By the way, if you want to refer to the images on other boards or sites, rather than copy and paste, please just copy a link back to the original image on Flickr. Cheers, Peter
Post by Don Ricardo on Nov 18, 2015 9:21:26 GMT 10
What a fabulous treasure trove of photos of WEP's Jennison! Absolutely wonderful to browse through them. I think that must be one of the most complete collection of photos of Australian pre-1940 caravanning that exists - certainly that we've seen or heard about on the forum. Thanks so much for making them available via your Flickr album.
One thing that your photos reveal that blew me away is that they show that the windows on the sides of the van slide up and down into a cavity in the walls. One of the photos shows a window half open, and several other photos show the knob and guides for raising and lowering the window. Another bit of John Jennison ingenuity, and something we haven't previously known about his designs.
Thanks Peter For the link to a wonderful set of historic pics Great to see an insider shot with great 30s upholstery! Great pickup DonR on the slide Windows! Fantastic design from the great innovator J A Jennison! Superb stuff!!
Thank you Peter for sharing those photos, just a small fragment of the wonderful story you have gathered on your fathers life but..... Gold for us.
Trust eagle eyes Detective Superintendent Don Ricardo to spot the sliding windows as shown in this link to your Flickr account. www.flickr.com/photos/wepidgeon/albums/72157662827564077 That caravan appears to be the only one with that style of window amongst the other photos we have of 'pop tops ' in advertisements dated 1933 and 1937 which have ordinary head banging pop out windows, so, does that help date your fathers van ? it's not 1933 and it's not 1937 ( you knew that ) it would be good if we could find advertisements of pop tops for the intervening years. I wonder why that style wasn't more popular, maybe it's hard to stop water going down where the glass goes ?