ROMANY GYPSY TRAILERS

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FINE 1968 VICKERS 20'

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THE PICTURE ON THE LEFT SHOWS AN EARLY 'TOURER' UNUSUAL WITH ITS LOUVRE WINDOWS..................................
BELOW IS A PLAN FROM A 1961 BROCHURE FOR THE
17' x 7' VICKERS 'TRAVELLER'.
 

ORIGINALLY BUILDERS OF TOURERS THE FIRST VANS WERE 'LUNEDALES', FAR DIFFERENT TO THE LATER FAMILIAR VICKERS SHAPE.
THIS PICTURE SHOWS A VERY EARLY TRAILER.
 

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AT THE PEAK.........THE ORNATE AND LUXURIOUS TRAILERS NOW MOST ASSOCIATED WITH 'VICKERS'. LEFT A SPANKING NEW TRAILER. HOW HEADS WOULD HAVE TURNED AS IT PULLED ONTO THE FAIR.......RIGHT, A LATER TRAILER WITH THE SINGLE FRONT AND REAR WINDOWS AND TWIN AXLE.

Initially the company built touring caravans, in the early 1960's they produced an 18' "specialised travellers caravan". By the mid 1960's production was almost exclusively aimed at Travellers, the employees were mostly joiners doing the body work and cabinet makers doing the furniture, many from the recently closed Waring and Gillows furniture makers of Lancaster that had closed down. The earliest trailers were lined and furnished in polished oak with formica 'kitchen ends', exteriors were plain, some featured leadlight windows, one colour, then contrasting waistbands, wheel spats and bows under the front and rear windows were introduced. In the early 1960's the body shape was modified slightly and the interior furnishings revised. By this time Travellers were specifying what they wanted and the vans became more distinctive. Gradually the ornamentation increased, bumpers were introduced, double lights and double number plates requested, once it was known that Mr Vickers would do anything you wanted....for a price....the sky was the limit....then the contrasting coloured details were replaced with stainless steel panels and polished aluminium mouldings with coloured trim inserts. In the more expensive trailers, windows were engraved with a design of an urn of flowers and a bunch of grapes in each corner. later some people had the details in the windows 'picked out' with coloured grapes, flowers etc. Interiors were lined and furnished with formica of various designs such as 'mother of pearl' and resplendent with brilliant cut mirrors, edged with coloured glass, blue, green, amber etc. on all doors and surfaces. Women often had coloured cut glass bowls, vases etc. to match the mirror colour scheme. Ceiling lights were round and often in clusters of three! Many customers supplied their own cookers and lighting and the firm employed its own electrician. Engraved glass fronted display cabinets were mirror backed and top lit, the solid fuel stove used was the 'courtier' type, made by Smith & Welstood of Bonnybridge in Scotland. There was a good size drop leaf table, and in later vans, these were sometimes topped with cut mirrors to match. Of course people who could afford the best trailers also wanted the best fittings, carpets were usually Grosvenor Wilton or Sultana.......Axminster heavily patterned or floral being lower down the scale! No family of any standing would ever consider a more practical floor covering in the 'kitchen end'. Bunks were deep buttoned. During the 'flash' era, 'extras' were an absolute boon to all the trailer builders, greatly increasing the cost of a van.....it is reputed that Mr Vickers noted each 'extra' requested, charging £100 per item ! Most people would have also ordered a set of matching steps, featuring the same 'Formica' as inside the trailer, later these were stainless clad. Mr.Vickers was a great believer in using local companies to supply the upholstery, carpets, curtains and blinds. As the vans became heavier, a twin axle was introduced. The very first twin axle Vickers was ordered by Mr Jimmy Young. From the works he fetched the trailer to Castleton, Rochdale. The trailer was 'the talk of the country' also being the first trailer with stainless bays rather than coloured. Some of the last trailers built had a single front and rear window instead of the pair which had been the recognisable feature of the vans, these were produced after Mr.Vickers death, he had refused to allow the change when alive. The interiors of these last trailers were more 'sleek' though still in a recognisable Vickers style. In the mid 70's a basic unadorned 22' x 8' van cost £10000 extras could easily add another £4-5000 but it was often a case of 'money no object' in a bid to 'outdo' others and this figure could easily be exceeded.............!! Vickers were without doubt the most ornate of all the 'flash' trailers. They were properly called Vickers Lunedales but the name never really 'took' and they were referred to as 'Vickers', in latter years they are often referred to as Vickers Morecambes or 'Morecambe trailers'. By the late 70's the recession had started to hit Travellers and they were favouring cheaper and lighter trailers. The demise in the fashion for all the big heavy trailers was astonishingly rapid. The company finally closed in 1977. Harry Vickers had passed away shortly before.

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