Who Invented the Caravan?

Caravans have enjoyed a surge in popularity in recent years, thanks in no small part to the rise of staycationing. But, the modern caravan is a far cry from those of years gone by with the history of caravans being incredibly varied, which begs the question – just who invented the caravan anyway?

This is actually a much more complex question than it originally appears. Caravans have been around for centuries, though obviously not in the form that we know and love today. Originally they were simple wooden shells that were drawn by horses, thereby offering a way of easily transporting goods. They weren’t used as places to sleep until the travelling Romani people (commonly known as gypsies) decided to use them as a home instead of sleeping in tents, and so the iconic caravan was born.

It was the beginning of the 19th century when caravans started to evolve into something resembling today’s models, and the first “leisure trailer” was built in 1880 by the Bristol Carriage Company. It was built for Dr W Gordon-Stables and paved the way for caravans to be used purely for leisure purposes, and since then their popularity has gone from strength to strength.

In the UK the first dedicated caravanning clubs were founded at the beginning of the 20th century – the Camping and Caravanning Club in 1901 and the Caravan Club in 1907 – only cementing the status of such vehicles. It wasn’t long before the caravan became popular elsewhere, and in the 1920s they were commonly seen on the roads of America.

The caravan that we know today is obviously much more advanced that the original version, with most containing everything you could need to live comfortably. There are living and sleeping areas as well as bathrooms and shower rooms, and if you get the really deluxe versions you could even enjoy the likes of air conditioning and extended rooms.

So, the history of caravans in incredibly varied and over the years they’ve grown into a true icon. The use of caravans can be dated back to when records began when they were used as mere transportation vehicles, evolving into today’s version of them being moveable homes. There’s really no set person that invented the modern caravan – some think that gypsies had the original idea whereas others place the modern invention at the door of the Bristol Carriage Company – but the history is well worth looking into.



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