The following text was identified by the Rally Secretary Mr. Tony Lee, the date of the original text is unknown and so are the details of the original author. Tony has modified and updated slightly the details as recoded.
Thank you to Tony for sharing the details with us all which I personally found very interesting and I hope the Members of the South Lancashire Centre will also.
Roger Higson Chairman July 2021
SOUTH LANCASHIRE CENTRE
50 YEARS HISTORY
How it all started....
In 1907, a few horse drawn caravans appeared on the roads of England. On the 14th June of that year, 10 men and one woman met to consider forming an organisation to bring together those interested in van life as a pastime and it was unanimously agreed to form a “Club”. The new club seemed to have an attraction for the ladies, because records show that in 1912 they accounted for nearly one-third of the 267 members. At the Annual Meeting of that year at Stratford-upon-Avon, the local press put it like this:
“Caravanning has passed through the fiery furnace of public opinion, cast adrift the shady reputation built up by basket vendors, itinerant tinkers, and roost robbing gipsies, and now claims among its devotees, princes, dukes, earls and representatives of the noblest untitled families in the country.”
Thus was launched on Britain’s highways an ever increasing fleet of caravans. Progress was slow and in 1914, the war put a stop to caravanning but official records show that Field Marshal Haig appealed for mobile operations rooms and that within 24 hours a fleet of members caravans was made available. By the end of the 1930s, membership was growing reaching 1400. A National Rally at this time attracted nearly 200 outfits including one Lancashire merchant who arrived on the site in a motor caravan weighing over 2 tons. From then, the club progressed rapidly.
In 1937, a few members met in a Doctor’s caravan in Delamere, and formed a North West Centre of the Club, comprising the counties of Westmorland, Cumberland, Lancashire, Cheshire and the coastal counties of North Wales. Incidentally, the first grant received by the centre from Head Office was £15 – a bit different from today. This North West Centre went from strength to strength until its numbers became too cumbersome for administration and members decided that they would like it more localized. As a result, over the next year’s first Westmorland and Cumberland (now Cumbria) formed a Centre, follow by Cheshire and North Wales, and all that was left of the original set-up was Lancashire which has since been sub-divided into North and South. It is important to record that these Centres were formed completely amicably. There were no `power politics’
This short history may be of interest to some of you, and remembered affectionately by some of the old members.
NOTE: The site where the original meeting was held appeared in the Sites Directory and read as follows:
S. Worth. Chester Road, Delamere.. Licensed site; Water Main Site, WC, Caravan’s only. Club Members preferred. 1/- per night or 3/6 per week.
(End TL Rally Secretary SLCC CMHC)