A “Romany Road” caravan used as a support vehicle by Hubert Opperman in his record breaking ride from Fremantle to Sydney in 1937. He rested in the caravan and his wife and girl friend (the one and the same person...I assume) cooked special meals for him on modern cooking facilities within the 'van.
"Caravanning will have its peace and quietness for Mr. G. R. Nicholas, of Toorak, who took delivery yesterday of one of these miniature homes built on the chassis of a 40/50 horse-power Rolls-Royce.
"Beautifully finished in ivory and black, the caravan has accommodation for four persons, and an enclosed front compartment with combined seat and sleeping berth for a chauffeur. It was built by the Romany Road Caravan Co. Pty. Ltd., of South Melbourne, and weighs three and a half tons.
"The overall length of the caravan is 21ft. 10in.; the height from the ground is 8ft. 5in., and of the interior about 6ft. Special attention has been paid to the detail of the interior and external appearance of this luxury travelling home.
"From a distance it looks like a huge limousine with the lower portion of the body in ivory, the upper half in black, and a gently sloping rear. Large rectangular shaped windows with rounded corners aro in the sides and rear; the cap of the petrol tank filler and door handles are recessed in the coachwork, and the rear wheels are covered with ivory-coloured shields, finished with three narrow strips of chrome.
"The walls of the caravan are insulated against sound and heat, and although nothing which could make a journey more comfortable has been excluded, there is ample room to walk about the interior.
"Cushioned seats and a folding table are at the rear, and when these are not in use they may be converted into a double bed 6ft 31n in length. On one side are an enclosed sink, and petrol stove, ice chest, bread cupboard drawers and cupboards and on the other side a full-length wardrobe with mirror, and more drawers.
"Built in on the front panel are a wireless, electric light with rounded glass shade, and an electric fan which receive their current from two six-volt batteries. Other shaded lights on the side walls and at the rear illuminate the interior.
"Water is pumped from a large tank beneath the sink. On one side of the caravan, and hidden away, is a long box for carrying fishing tackle and golf sticks.
"The interior of the caravan is finished in cream and jade green with tapestry curtains to match. The handles of the doors and cupboards are of black and chrome."
Looks like the Chaffeur had to sleep sitting up!! ;D ;D ;D
The first sentence reads: The opening of "Romany Road" Showrooms at 518 Dandenong Road, Carnegie exemplifies the development of facilities to cater for the rapidly increasing demand for Caravans." This factory was in addition to the Romany Road factory in City Road, South Melbourne.
Then in July 1940 "Romany Road Caravan Co. Ltd. went into liquidation........ that is, during WW2 things got a bit too tough for many of these caravan companies that had started up with great optimism in 1936 and 1937.
In the Matter pt 1 ROMANY ROAD CARAVAN CO LTD (In Lia) 361 Collins Street. Melbourne-Notice Is hereby given that the above named company by extraordinary resolution dated 24th July 1940 went into voluntary liquidation and that I aubert Jeffery, of 271 Collins street Melbourne chartered accountant (Aust ) was appointed liquidator The creditors of the above named company are required on or before the 5th day or September 1940 to SEND their NAMES ADDRESSES and PARTICULARS of their DEBTS and CLAIMS and the name and address of their solicitors if any to the said Gilbert Jeffery and if so required by notice in | writing from the said liquidator or by his solicitor. to come In and prove the said debts or claims at , such time and place as shall be specified in such notice or In default thereof they will be excluded I from the benefit or any distribution mode before such debts are proved , Dated this 25th day of July 1940 \ " GILBERT JEFFERY Liquidator ¡ National Bank Chambers 271 Collins street, .
From the English magazine “The Caravan” October 1937. Indicating that both “Romany Road” and “Caravan Construction Company” (Land Cruiser) were going great guns just prior to WW2. Here it tells us Romany Road were turning out a caravan at the rate of one per day.
Cobber. Editorial note: The photograph accompanying the above article is described as being of the 'Romany Road works', but the caravans being constructed seem to be actually Land Cruiser models, based on the shape and livery. It is therefore likely that the photo is of the Land Cruiser factory in Gardenvale. Don Ricardo
This photo is taken from an article printed in the English magazine “The Caravan” in April 1939. It is mentioned in the article that Mr. Collister is connected with the Romany Road Caravan Co. Ltd. The Bushfires mentioned were the Black Friday fires of January 1939.
Cobber. Editorial note: Despite the apparent link between Mr Collister and the Romany Road Caravan Co Ltd noted by Cobber, later research indicates that the caravan in the photo is most likely a Windsor - click here. Whether there was a connection between Romany Road and Windsor is unknown at this stage. Don Ricardo
Post by Don Ricardo on Feb 27, 2011 14:44:03 GMT 10
I just re-read the article you posted on 17 February (Reply #4) re Romany Road and Landcruiser/ Caravan Construction Company production. The photo accompanying the article says it is a pic of the Romany Road production line, but I wonder if that description is in error?
All of the other photos of Romany Road vans (including the one you posted in Reply #5) are very uniform in design - quite square with a sloping front - and quite unlike the vans in the pic which is supposedly of the Romany Road factory. Those vans look much more like Landcruisers to me.
You and your analytical mind..... will be the death of me
I can't decide if your point is valid or not .
Looking at the three different sized models in the centre rear of the photo, and assuming the vans are front on....It looks as though they are lined up in order of size, smallest on the left.
We know the “Royal” was the smallest of the Land Cruisers at 12'8'' (no lantern roof)... the “Regent was next at 14' with a lantern roof.... and the “Victory” was the largest at 16' (no lantern roof)
All three vans in the photo appear to have rounded fronts with front windows close to the roof line & none of them with a lantern roof.... (I don't think that is a lantern roof on the largest one) .
We know the “Royal” had a rounded front and a window close to the roof line.... so that could possible be a Land Cruiser.
We know the “Regent” had a flat front and rear.... with a very small front window well below the roof line and it had a lantern roof... no evidence of that in this photo, I'd say it is not a Land Cruiser.
We know the “ Victory” had a very rounded front with a very small window well below the roof line The van in this photo has a larger window close to the roof line so... I don't think it is a Land Cruiser.
Of course if we are looking at the rear of the vans the assumptions may be different... except to say none of them look like the “Regent” model to me. There are differences in the paint lines too, but I don't think we can put too much money on that as evidence one way or the other.
Agreed..... none of them look like the photos of the only Romany Road van we have seen to-date, and from the scant knowledge we have of Romany Road it would appear they only had one model.
So..... maybe you are right and John D. Porter is in error.... or the editor of The Caravan is in error.
What do you think I should do Don R. …..move the photo to the “Land Cruiser” thread
This advertisement from the Australian Caravan Magazine and Log Manual in 1938 shows the Romany Road Model "A" to be a pretty flash unit according to the list of inclusions, I mean, a cocktail cabinet and a lavatory, shower and a radio, I think I could handle one today
As for the vans in the factory photo they certainly seem to be a different shape van to the Romany Road. While I'm very much a novice on vintage vans I can say that from years of researching old motoring magazines I've found that editors in the early days certainly didn't worry about the facts getting in the way of a good story. I've found many examples of the same photo being dredged up years after being first published and re-captioned, often incorrectly and used again in articles.
Someone may have sent the wrong photos or they may have been genuinely mixed up or simply looked better on the layout.
Post by Don Ricardo on Feb 27, 2011 22:26:47 GMT 10
Hi Cobber and Griffin,
I think Cobber is right in saying that none of the vans look like a Land Cruiser Regent, which in general profile looks more like a Romany Road as it happens. I am guessing that - as Cobber has suggested - the smaller vans may be Royals, and the larger vans may be Victorys - the shape and livery seem to match up with those two models.
As for the window size, my general observation from reading Winser manuals is that manufacturers often updated the features in their vans without updating their publicity material. Thus larger front windows may have been introduced at some stage, but we do not have a photographic record.
I agree with Griffin re mix ups of photos and descriptions - how does it go? Many a slip twixt the cup and the lip? Even today you see plenty of examples where photos and names get mixed up.
So, what to do with the photo we have been discussing? At this point I think the evidence points to an error in the publication, so I would be inclined to post a copy on the Land Cruiser thread with an explanation that it appears that the pic is of the Caravan Construction Company factory, and leave the pic here as well with this discussion. I think that's called a bob each way! ;D ;D ;D
Another photo from The Caravan magazine... this one from the February 1938 issue.
It states that Mr. G.H. Swan is the managing Director of the Land Cruiser Company which I think is news to us We have only heard of Mr. F.C. Heber as Managing Director of the company and I have spoken with F.C's Son prior to his death in July 2009 and there was no mention of his father relinquishing the position at any time
Cobber. Editorial note: Cobber's post was originally posted on the Land Cruiser thread, but as indicated below the photo in this post is in fact a Romany Road, and G H Swan was the Managing Director of the Romany Road company. Don Ricardo
This article in the Melbourne newspaper The Argus of January 1939 Concerns a Mr. G. H. Swan who is the Managing Director of "Romany Road Caravan Co. Ltd." Apparently there was some confusion between Romany Road and Land Cruiser in the minds of The Caravan people
Post by Don Ricardo on Mar 16, 2011 22:14:11 GMT 10
Here is another photo of, and article about the caravan which accompanied Sir Hubert Opperman in his record breaking ride from Perth to Sydney. The article is from The West Australian of 1 November 1937 (p 7). From the article posted in Reply #1 above, we know that the caravan was a Romany Road:
Here's a bit more info from the Perth 'Mirror' newspaper, 30 Oct 1937:
"OPPY will pedal TO SYDNEY
Preparations Under Way
Hubert Opperman, crack Victorian road cyclist, who holds most of the Australian road records, will attempt a marathon ride to Sydney next week, and preparations are well in hand for the trip.
In the capable hands of H. G. (Herb) Elliot and his nephew, H. C. (Herb) Elliot, the Romany road caravan, which will accompany the lion-hearted cyclist on his long ride, arrived after a rough trip overland about 10.15 a.m. today, and was met by Mr. and Mrs. Opperman, Mr. Bruce Small (who had arrived earlier on the Trans-train), and a crowd of interested onlookers. The caravan is neatly and compactly fitted out with three mattress bunks, wash-basin with running water, a wireless set (broken on the rough journey over), an ice-chest, a wardrobe with mirror, and cupboards for crockery and cutlery. It is small but comfortable, with windows on three sides shaded by lace curtains and blinds. A most snug little conveyance, but very hot in the middle of Australia, we should imagine! The interior is painted cream and, apart from the inevitable red dust which had collected in the drawers and transformed the cutlery, everything is spotless.
The caravan is a two-wheel type with a streamlined appearance, and the rough passage through the dangerous Madura Pass caused the Elliots a lot of concern. On one occasion it turned over, but no serious damage was done. Mr. Bruce Small, who on behalf of Malvern Star Ltd. is sponsoring the trip, arrived by the Trans this morning to meet the caravan. He will accompany the cyclist during his ride, and Mrs. Opperman will see to the cooking on the caravan's stove."
Last Edit: Feb 9, 2014 15:50:49 GMT 10 by Franklin1
Advert from the same edition of Table Talk (page 16) showing the rear of the caravan:
(Source: National Library of Australia nla.gov.au/nla.news-article149327897 ) Extracts from an article published in Table Talk on Thursday, 20 May 1937 (pages 42 & 43 ) describing the Romany Road 'Double Saloon Four' model caravan shown above, which was on display at the 1937 Melbourne motor show:
Post by Don Ricardo on Sept 2, 2017 14:56:01 GMT 10
Higher up this thread is a copy of an article published in the Melbourne Argus in 1938 about a Romany Road motor caravan built on a Rolls Royce chassis for a Mr G R Nicholas. The photo accompanying the article was not very clear in that article, but a clearer photo was published in the Melbourne Australasian newspaper on Saturday, 19 February 1938 (page 41):
'G R Nicholas', for whom the caravan was built, was George Richard Rich Nicholas, a pharmacist who developed the Aspro during World War I when supplies of aspirin were no longer available from the German company Bayer. The Nicholas family became wealthy off the back of the world wide sales of Aspro, and also became well known philanthropists. And I guess he could well afford a caravan built on a Rolls chassis!
If you grew up in Melbourne in the 50's, as I did, the Nicholas name was well known and there are various landmarks around Melbourne which are connected to the Nicholases. In fact I reckon that most Australians around my age would probably recognise a pack of Nicholas Aspros by the colour of the pack (pink). However I think that Aspros are now produced as a generic medicine, and I doubt if my kid's generation would even recognise the significance of the Nicholas name.
Griffin has sourced the original of the photo of Nicholas's Rolls Royce/Romany Road motor caravan published in the newspapers from the R-R Owners' Club of Victoria - click here. It was definitely a magnificent beast!