Manufacturer: W H Willshire 126 Woodville Road, Woodville SA Our current understanding is that there were two independent manufacturers in two different states who produced caravans under the 'Paramount' brandname:
* South Australia (this thread) * Victoria - click here
If anyone has information which shows a connection between the manufacturers in different states, we will combine the threads.
This caravan was built by Paramount Caravans in Adelaide in 1936, and towed accross the nullabour to a farming property in Hyden WA (home of the famous Wave Rock).
The caravan measures 15' x 7' and is made of masonite. The roof if the usual South Aussie caneite covered in canvas, with an internally exposed Oregon frame. It is towed with a 1946 De Soto.
Post by Don Ricardo on Nov 15, 2009 16:12:44 GMT 10
1937 Paramount caravan advertised for sale in the For Sale/Wanted section on 21 May 2009:
Comment from Mark T:
"...'Paramount' caravan said to have been built in 1937.
"Cobber, your pretty good with researching Patent No's,........so .....thats your homework for tomorrow ;D
"The caravan was purchased by current owner 'Tom', approx 10 years ago, and was found in a brick garage beneath an old house, where it had been resting since last use in 1959.
"This is the caravan referred to in the "Down History Lane" section, under 'Paramount Caravans'.
"I viewed it on Saturday morning together with Adam & Chris (Retro1), and it can only be described as amazing, insofar as its condition for its 72 years of age, and its originality.
"It has a 'Furness' style coupling, and no brakes, as typical of the period.
"This unit is a TRUE MUSEUM PIECE, it would be a shame to modify it in anyway for road use (my opinion only "
Pics of a beautifully restored example of a 1936 Paramount caravan can also be found on the Somewhere Else website here. These caravans would appear to be of the same type to the one referred to by Franklin1 in the following post:
1937 Paramount caravan: In the March 2001 issue of Caravan World, there is a monthly feature titled "From My Perspective", and the article for that month is called, "They Don't Make Them Like They Used To...". The article goes on to talk about how vans were much simpler items a couple of decades ago, and the writer, Tom Olthoff, tells of his 1976 York caravan. More importantly, he goes on to write...
"Alongside the York sits a 1937 four-berth Paramount. It is one of those classic old vans that have a curved front and back. It is probably more aerodynamic than many built today. The Paramount has a cafe-style dinette across the back that converts into a large double bed and two bunks at the front. The kitchen offers a two-burner spirit stove and ice box. A centrally located full height wardrobe has bi-fold doors that can be used to split the van into two rooms and provide some privacy for the occupants. The van also has 12 volt power and stained glass windows. What more does one need?"
Unfortunately, the article does not include any photos of the Paramount van.
Further post regarding Paramount caravans from Franklin1:
Was there a Paramount Caravans in Adelaide as well? The archives tell me that in March 1960, Carapark bought Paramount Caravans Ltd., Adelaide. That meant that Carapark now had production facilities in three States. The first was obviously in Sydney, the second was somewhere but I haven't found out where yet, and the third was in the Paramount factory in Adelaide.
Maybe the newspaper report has got the State wrong?
Today I picked up some interesting stuff on what appears to be the "SA" manufactured "paramount" VV I will send it to DonR tonite for posting jennison continued....Righteo, I have been given a copy of a brochure of paramount VVs featuring a paramount "imperial" - 17'6", a paramount "large"15'6" and a paramount small 12' The blue one featured at the top of this thread would be the large 15'6" model. A friend, Albert gave it to me. It was left over from a collection of stuff belonging to his wifes parents (of Albury) who owned an imperial 17'6" model........ and when they said imperial they really meant it!! It came standard with a shower and elsen chemical toilet and its own"electric generating plant"!!!! They were made by a Mr W.H. Willshire. Brochure is at a guess 1936/37 as it is hooked onto a 1935 ford.(I think) Pics sent to DonR, so when they are up - look and admire!!!! Ps Mark T , out of interest, do you know if the blue one was sold and perhaps who to? PPS Albert thinks he has some family photos which he will have a look for so we can post em. jennison
Last Edit: Dec 12, 2009 21:10:44 GMT 10 by Jennison
I just had athought. The brochure talks of his patented chassis. I got my grandfathers patents applic off the Nat archives website so I have initiated a search on it(currently running)to see what turns up jennison
Hi All I have acopy of Patent no. 13,722/33. It was submitted by William Henry Willshire of 126 Woodville Road Woodville South Australia, Coachbuilder Application and provisional Specification -- Accepted 22nd August 1933. Complete Specification --- Accepted 25th July 1934. Acceptance Advertised ---- 2nd August 1934. The Patent is for the chassis / axle design using steel /timber combination. I will post a copy to Don R for inclusion on this site. Cheers boblor
Post by Don Ricardo on Sept 5, 2010 22:27:37 GMT 10
The hubcap on Mark T's 1937 Paramount refers to Patent No 13,722/33:
Boblor has obtained a copy of the patent concerned which was granted to William Willshire in 1934 for two inventions which were incorporated into his Paramount caravans. Boblor has asked me to post the document on his behalf.
The first invention described in the application above was the chassis of the caravan constructed so as to reduce the height of the van above the ground and reduce the centre of gravity. The second was extendable corner jacks which could be let down and fixed with knurled knob to stabilise the caravan when parked.
Thanks for sharing this document with the rest of us Boblor. We appreciate the research you do and your willingness to make it available to everyone.
That is great information, thanks for sharing it Bob.
Tell me Bob.... did you have to spend money, or visit them, to get that information from the Australian Patent Office? As I've mentioned before on my Ol' 36 thread.... in England there is a search facility here where you only have to put in any information you have and it is possible to get a whole heap of information on-line for free, as I did for the tow coupling and other bits and pieces on Ol' 36.
I haven't found a way to do that with Australian patents.
No... I hadn't used the National Archives search facility, didn't know it had much information available on-line. I suppose I was making the point that Patent information was available for free, on-line, in other countries (I have received a PM from Bob answering my question.... he doesn't get his information free on-line..... I expect he didn't want to mess up this thread )
So...... I just gave the National Archives search thingo a go.... and to keep this discussion relevant to the Paramount thread.... sort of.... here is William Henry Willshire's Attestation form. So now we know where and when he was born, who his wife was, where they lived (which is different to the address on the patent application... so I hope I'm talking about the same bloke) , and that he describes himself as a "Labourer"
Thanks for steering me onto the "National Archives" Jeff.
Isn't it interesting that if you read clause 10 of Patent No 13722/33, it says:
This invention relates to the construction of two-wheel caravans which are adapted to be trailed behind a car or the like and it has as its object(ive) the supporting of the floor at a minimum height above the ground so that the centre of gravity will be as low as possible
"William Willshire" of South Australia was designing his caravans in 1933 to sit as low as possible, whilst up the road in Victoria in 1934, the Robinsons were building their caravans to be as high as possible off the road:
The original Don
and still being constructed high off the ground in 1950 :
William Willshire's Paramount Caravans (of the same period) was being built as low as possible ......when this Paramont Caravan arrived in Beverley, it was sitting so low on the trailer, I thought at first it was sitting on its hubs :
My understanding of the "Don" design was that the roads of the day were that shocking, the greater the ground clearance the better .......particularly as there were no caravan parks .....caravans were literally driven into the bush to locate a suitable camping spot.
It would appear that Mr W. Willshire, the builder of “Paramount” caravans, was influenced by the style of English caravans. The first issue of the English magazine “The Caravan” appeared in May 1933 and the message below from Mr. Willshire appears in the January 1934 issue of that magazine. The editor of the magazine mentions that the photos of the “Paramount” bear a resemblance to the English “Winchester” models of that time (not a bad thing)
The photos I think show the Large 15ft. 4 birth Model at the top with the Small 12ft 4 birth model in the middle photo.... I wouldn't like to guess if the bottom photo shows the 17'6'' “Paramount Imperial” model or not. Note the colour scheme in these photos.... most likely taken in 1933... are the same as Mark's Paramount and differ to those shown in the above brochure of Jennison's.
The caption beneath this photo from the April 1935 “The Caravan” shows the Small “Paramount” “Fording a Billabong”......... looks more like a puddle to me.
And then in “The Caravan” of March 1937 the Large (or is it the “Imperial” ) “Paramount” under the Harbour Bridge which was only five years old ….. only one year older than the caravan (if it is a '33 model)
......you don't know how close this is ...... rubbing back the Paramount was to start within the next coupla weeks ........the tow car (39 Chev) has already been done with two tone royal blue & silver .......
now you're telling me not to proceed, as the caravan maybe 33/34
Post by Don Ricardo on May 5, 2013 21:33:05 GMT 10
On the recent 2013 V V Victorian goldfields tour (April 2013), those on the tour had the opportunity to visit Austin125 and to see his marvellous collection of vintage caravans and classic vehicles. One item of particular interest was his 1938 Paramount caravan - it's the 15 ft 6 in 'Large Four Berth' model shown in the leaflet posted in Reply #3 above:
This photo clearly shows the way that the axle design referred to in the patent application posted in Reply #11 above allowed Paramount caravans to achieve a very low floor height above the ground.
The Paramount has a lot of interesting features...
A wardrobe door that opens up to become a room divider:
A small spice cupboard between the wardrobe and the door:
A clock and barometer:
Wind out windows:
Stabiliser legs which (like many South Australian vans of the era) slide up an internal tube and are locked in place (up or down) by a knurled knob:
This feature and some others are referred to in the patent application.
The other noticeable feature of the caravan are the Art Deco furnishings...
Windows etched with a sun ray design:
Cupboard doors finished with frosted glass, and etched with Art Deco pattern:
Wardrobe mirror etched with the same design:
Art Deco style interior and exterior lights:
Art Deco style wire door:
Just a beautiful caravan! Thanks to Austin125 for allowing we "tourers" to admire it.
Post by Don Ricardo on May 12, 2013 18:31:31 GMT 10
My copy of the May 2013 edition of Caravan World came with a little freebie attached, as I guess everybody else's did - a Top Tourist Parks directory. What I noticed, though was that the front cover was graced by a photo of one of the Paramount Small 4 Berth model caravans (and a 60's Viscount). Nice!
Post by Don Ricardo on Aug 31, 2013 1:03:41 GMT 10
Thanks to Aussieambo for posting the photo of the shiny new Paramount caravan in the post immediately above. That's some further confirmation of the continuation of the South Australian Paramount brand into the 60's. The van in question appears to be a Carapark van branded as a Paramount.
The interesting thing is that we have plenty of evidence of the beautiful art deco styled Paramount caravans built by William Willshire before World War 2 (see higher up this thread). We also know that Carapark purchased the Paramount factory in Adelaide in 1960. However, we have had no information about what happened between the beginning of WW2 and 1960.
Recently Raym provided me with an advertisement for the South Australian Caravan Centre company which appeared in the 1958 edition of Winser (see full advertisement here).
The advert included a photo of a Paramount caravan:
(Source: Keith Winser, Australian Caravan and Touring Manual, Book 10, 1958, p 99)
And this entry appeared in the 1958 Adelaide Pink Pages directory:
(Source: Adelaide Pink Pages, 1958, p 22)
A similar advert for Paramount also appeared in the 1959 but not the 1960 Pink Pages.
Digging around the forum after looking at the above photo from the Caravan Centre advert, I came across the following photos of a 1956 Paramount van which were posted on the forum in 2006 by former forum member TCBhere:
Comparing the photos of TCB's van with the Paramount advert pic, it would appear that TCB's van is the 12 ft model while the van in the advert pic is the 15 ft model. But the vans clearly share the same design. Note the:
relatively flat front
distinct corner where the front panel meets the floor line, but the smooth join where the rear panel of the van just curves into the floor line at the back
very angular external wheel arches
It is also evident that these vans were built by the South Australian Paramount company and not the Victorian Paramount company, because the Victorian vans were very different in design in the mid 50's, as shown by the following advert for a 1956 Victorian van:
(Source: Keith Winser, Australian Caravan & Touring Manual for 1956, p 122)
So, we now have some evidence that the South Australian Paramount company was still building caravans in the mid to late 50's, and we know a bit more about TCB's van. But - we don't know what Paramount was doing in the 40's after the end of WW2 - when did they recommence production? Did they continue the pre-War design? And was William Willshire, who built the lovely Paramount vans in the 30's, still involved with the company after WW2.
Some more information still to be found!
I must say finding and linking together little snippets of info such as the above, and gradually piecing together the story of the some of the early caravan builders, is one of the most exciting things for me about the forum.
Thanks once again to Raym for providing the advertising material about Paramount which is the basis of this post.
Post by Don Ricardo on Feb 9, 2014 18:00:30 GMT 10
Following are photos owned and then recently sold by Archie, which has been identified as, but not conclusively proven to be 1930's South Australian Paramount. The van is 18 ft long. We are fortunate that over time Archie posted a comprehensive collection of photos of the van, including a number of the various fixtures and fittings which at some stage may enable us to confirm the van's identity:
On 22 October 2013 on a thread discussing Archie's van here, Don Ricardo summarised the similarities between Archie's caravan and the South Australian Paramounts, and also identified some differences:
I just posted a comment on Humpyboy and Cobber's proposal that your van might be a South Australian Paramount...
Having looked at the additional photos, I think Humpyboy and Cobber are right in what they are saying. The shape is generally right (although a little more curved at the front and back), the low floor height is right, the shape of the wheel arch is right, the dramatic decorations over each window and the door are right (although a bit more dramatic than other Paramounts), the shaped top of the door and the glass panel is right, the flywire door is right, the etched window glrass and the etched glass in the inside cupboards are right, the design of the flash (particularly at the front) is right and close to unique, and the way that the beading bordering the flash is screwed on is right. All those features appear to be very Paramount. And it is evident from the tudor ceiling and the SA number plate that it has SA origins.
I was a bit troubled at first because of the way that the canvas roof appeared to be finished off along the sides of your van. Paramount vans seem to have the canvas rolled over the sides, presumably to improve water run off and waterproofing, but your vans lacks this. however, it seems to me from the last pics you posted that your van has had the canvas taken off, and it is the uncovered caneite panels we can see. Is that correct? Also your van lacks the drop down corner jacks and knurled knobs you can see on other Paramounts. However, when you tick off the items I listed in the paragraph above, I think we are looking at a Paramount.
Dating your van is a bit tricky, but based on the way the vertical and waist joins in the external panels are covered with flat strapping, and the V-shaped top to the door suggests to me that your van may be midway between Mark T's and Austin125's vans shown in the DHL thread. So that would make it mid to late 30's. Having said that, there are some anamolies - the lack of the drop down corner jacks for one, and the apparently more modern cupboard door handles and catches for another. On 24 October 2013, Archie responded:
The roof seems to be covered with stretched canvas that has been painted, and has what looks like a thick cork type material,as underlay, also the van seems to be constructed of Masonite sheets on the outside...
The back half of the canvas roof is intact,and in good condition, but the front from the hatch forward is missing