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Gypsy Caravan History

The English gypsy caravan has been in existence since around the 1850's. They were, and still are in a few cases, the home of gypsy families and usually referred to as wagons or vardo's. Many of these wagons were "home" built, but for a period of time from around 1880 several dedicated wagon makers evolved.

These individuals and companies were responsible for some of the most beautiful wagons ever built. Fred Hill, Bill Wright and Dunton's are but a few of the famous builders of that period.

The average size of a bow-top caravan is about 10ft long, 6ft wide and 9' 6" from the ground to the top of the bow. Wagons vary in basic design. The Bow-top is just as it says. A wagon with a wood and canvas barrel-shaped roof. The Readings have solid sides rising up to a solid roof usually with a ridge or sky-lights in. Within these two categories other variations arise. "No two wagons are the same"!

Inside a gypsy wagon a stove is often to be found on the left hand side as one enters. At the back at chest height is the bed which lies across the wagon. This pulls out on runners to sleep two adults (or four children!) There is voluminous cupboard space under the bed or more sleeping room. Dotted around are various draws and or cupboards between sitting space on the ledges. See right for a typical interior layout of a good bowtop wagon.

There is usually a window at the rear of the wagon. Some had stable-type doors and "open-lots" have two a canvas sheets across the door space which laced down the middle. Wheels can be wooden with a steel band or the early metal spoked type.

 

Gypsy caravan exterior

Gypsy caravan interior
 
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