There aren’t many books written about any aspect of caravan ownership and use, and yet here we have the second in a year that has been submitted for review (bringing our total number of book reviews to two…) Eagle-eyed readers will notice that they are both written by Andrew Jenkinson, one of our new contributors – co-incidence? What can I say? The man’s enthusiastic.
The first thing to note about the present volume is that it focuses exclusively on touring caravans, so it is a bit removed from our normal sphere of activity. However, Andrew has scoured every aspect of touring caravan use in his chosen time frame and the book is peppered with evocative pictures of people involved in a variety of tourer-related activities, adverts from manufacturers, newspaper cuttings and caravanners’ own photos – including some from the Jenkinson family album.
The 1970s is often portrayed as a rather bleak period for Britain, with the 3-day week, power cuts and industrial unrest, but there is something very heartening about the content that Andrew has assembled, showing recognisably “ordinary” people making the best of things and enjoying the touring lifestyle. Having said that, Andrew devotes a chapter to some of the events that had a negative effect on the touring caravan industry, including the oil crisis and the introduction of VAT on tourers. After an initial boom in sales with people keen to beat the new tax, there was a slump as the combined effect of these negative influences played out. By the middle of the decade, the economy was recovering and people’s appetite for taking their Sprite, Elddis or ABI out on the open road was rekindled.
Andrew has woven a comprehensive overview of touring caravan use, picking strands from the manufacturers’ and parks’ stories along with the evolution of accessories, brushes with celebrity, and his own family’s experiences. The result is a nostalgic review of a period in which touring caravans came of age; a time before sat-navs and Google; a simpler time, but on this evidence, an enjoyable one.