This illustrated advertisement for the hire of 'Sunchaser' caravans was found in an issue of the N.R.M.A. Open Road dated 18 May, 1939. They were offered by Ledsam's Caravan Rentals at 199 Burwood Road, Burwood. Mr. Ledsam's advertising was very confident with is insistence that 'WE KNOW' about caravans.
There was no mention of them being for sale or any specific sizes other than 3, 4 or 6 berths.
Searching 'Trove' I found the earliest advert was in the Sydney Morning Herald dated 26 Jan., 1938 and it offered a little further information describing them as 'Senior' and 'Special' models with radio, spring beds, running water and partitions but again only for hire and never for sale.
This advert ran regularly and was basically unchanged until it's last appearance on the 2 November, 1940.
There was no advertising for the brand during the War that I could find and the name first appeared again in advertising post War as available for hire from Caravan Enterprises (no address or suburb given) in the SMH on 8 January, 1948. The adverts continued periodically until 27 October, 1948 after which there was nothing further in regard to their hire.
An advert in the SMH by Caravan Enterprises on 6 September, 1950 offered for sale a 'Luxurious Sunchaser Caravan, 23 x 7, 27cwt, 4 rooms' so it was a good size. Price was 995 pounds. After this there appears to be only private sales of 'Sunchaser' advertised.
The name 'Sunchaser' is readily found by 'Google' as a very popular Windsor pop top caravan of more recent times.
It's another nice 'romantic' name for a caravan I thought.
Here's another advert for 'Sunchaser' from The Open Road, Nov. 30, 1939. It's a nice bit of artwork which shows the van a bit better than the previous photo. To my eye it seems a pleasant style van for the era with the axle set a bit to the rear. This original advert is only 5cm square.
I thought maybe Mr. Ledsam may have been doing a bit of badge engineering but then there was only a few established caravan builders in Sydney to be his source and the 'Sunchaser' bears no resemblance to Caravan Park, Jennison, Propert or Nomad vans of the era that I'm aware of.
J.G. Ledsam was listed as an exhibitor at the N.R.M.A. 1939 Camping and Caravan Exhibition but no details were given about his offerings unfortunately.
Post by Don Ricardo on Mar 10, 2012 22:29:31 GMT 10
Great to hear about your grandfather's caravan rental business. It's fantastic when we get to hear a bit of history from a member of the family of a person who was involved in the caravan industry pre-1970, and in your case pre-1940 - it helps to fill in the gaps, of which we still have many at this stage of the forum.
The connection between Ledsam's Caravan Rentals and Sunchaser vans is an intriguing one, and I'd love to hear whatever you might be able to tell us on that matter, as well as more about your grandfather's business.
In any case, on the basis of your posts so far, as well as the info provided by a couple of other people, I've merged the posts on Ledsam's from 53s2mm's 'Ledsam & Bungalow' thread into this thread about Sunchaser caravans. I thought it made sense to do that because Ledsam's and Sunchaser are linked, and there is no connection between Ledsam's and JGM Bungalow Trailers (apart from the two adjacent adverts 53s2mm found). However, I can separate out the Ledsam material from the Sunchaser posts if I need to at a later point.
Hi again, I just been to my parents house to get more of a picture on the history of Ledsam' Caravan Rentals. My grandfather first had a motor garage in Wellington and Dubbo, he sold those and then he moved his family to Burwood where he started another garage in Burwood called Ledsam Motors which was at 99 Burwood Road, Burwood. He was a very clever mechanic and businessman and he decided to expand his business to caravan hire, he designed the caravans himself, that picture is one of the templates for one of them, and he had someone build them, he named them Sunchasers too and my mum remembers seeing one in their backyard for sometime. My grandfather's sisters sewed the curtains and cushions for the caravans. I am not sure how many he had built but they were at Ledsam Motors and he hired them out. Mum told me on one occasion a man who hired the caravan got a flat tyre on one and he just left the caravan where he was, somewhere up the coast, and her dad had to go and get it (I am sure that wouldn't be able to happen these days). Unfortunately in 1945 my grandfather died of heart failure at the age of 53 years and for a while my grandmother leased the garage and business and I am assuming the caravan business to 2 brothers who my mum thinks there name was Jorgansens. After a while it got too much for my grandmother or she needed money (she was a widow with 8 children) so she sold the business and property. Not sure what happened to the caravans though, but maybe from your research they may have been sold to Caravan Enterprises. I wonder myself if there are any still around.
Post by Don Ricardo on Mar 11, 2012 21:00:45 GMT 10
Thanks for telling us a bit more about your grandfather and his caravan hire business, and also for confirming that the Sunchaser caravans were built to his design and specifications. Interesting to hear about his sisters making the curtains and cushions for the vans. That appears to have been a pretty common pattern back in the 30's, 40's and even 50's. The mothers, sisters and wives ended up making the upholstery, etc.
I was interested in the story about your grandfather having to collect one of the vans from up the coast. I don't think that was an isolated incident. Les Gason who was involved in building Gason caravans with his father has told me that on more than one occasion they had to go and rescue a hire van which had been involved in an accident, had been trashed and abandoned by a hirer, or just left some distance away by a hirer who simply couldn't be bothered bringing it back to base. As you say, probably doesn't happen now...or maybe it does?
Do you know when your grandfather began building and hiring out vans? The adverts we have are for 1938 and 1939, but the pics show quite different designs, so I'm guessing that he may have been involved in building and hiring out vans for a number of years. The photo you posted yourself shows a van with a rounded shape which is quite typical of the 30's. However, the vans in the 1939 adverts posted by Griffin show a much more rectangular shape. The interesting thing about that is that that shape didn't come into vogue more generally until the 40's and early 50's, which suggests that your grandfather was quite forward thinking in his designs.
Just for the record, what was your grandfather's name? (Then we don't have to call him 'your grandfather' or 'Mr Ledsam' all the time. ;D ;D ;D)
Hi again, I am living with my parents now and we started talking about the caravan business and then I remembered this thread, its been nearly 4 years and here is my reply lol. My grandfathers name was James Goddington Ledsam. I tried to add a photo of Ledsam Motors at Burwood but it wouldn't let me. Regards Janene
Post by Don Ricardo on Apr 1, 2016 19:33:40 GMT 10
Good to hear from you again.
We'd love to see some photos of your grandfather's premises and any other photos you may have of the caravans he built. The link Shesgotthelook gave you may remind you how to post photos (you can't use the 'Add Attachment' button unfortunately). Otherwise, as she suggested, you're more than welcome to email the photos to me to post on your behalf. If you click on my forum name in blue in the panel to the left of this post, it will open up a window which will give you my email address.
(PS As you may have realised, we have also conversed on Facebook.)
Post by Don Ricardo on Jul 20, 2020 11:55:39 GMT 10
In March 2012, Grinzo59 told us a little bit about the story of Sunchaser caravans built by her grandfather, James Ledsam (see above). As part of that story, she recounted that:
Unfortunately in 1945 my grandfather died of heart failure at the age of 53 years and for a while my grandmother leased the garage and business and I am assuming the caravan business to 2 brothers who my mum thinks there name was Jorgansens. After a while it got too much for my grandmother or she needed money (she was a widow with 8 children) so she sold the business and property. Not sure what happened to the caravans though, but maybe...they may have been sold to Caravan Enterprises.
We have not discovered any further information about Sunchaser since Grinzo59's posts, however I recently came across this advert for Sunchaser caravans published in the Sydney Morning Herald on Saturday, 8 August 1959 (page 39):
It's a long gap between 1945 when James Ledsam died and 1959, so it is unclear whether or not the 1959 Sunchasers represent some sort of continuation of Ledsam's products and/or name. It may be that in 1959 some other manufacturer had just adopted the name.