Historic Caravan Club News 

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We have just been notified of the death of CECIL  HUGH  GARDNER on 1st June 2020

(Managing Director of CHELTENHAM CARAVAN COMPANY  1968 – 1975)

 Following the 1st World War, Arthur Gardner built a (towing) caravan at his family’s home in Buckinghamshire, married the love of his life - Joyce, and took her away on honeymoon in said caravan.

Friends heard of his exploits and asked to borrow or hire it for themselves. Arthur realised that there was money to be made and constructed several more caravans to let or to sell. This venture was ‘Summerfield Caravans’.  Following a move with Joyce (Joy) to Cheltenham he changed the company name to Cheltenham Caravan Company.  (3C’s)

Their only child Cecil Hugh Gardner was born in March 1928 in Cheltenham. After attending junior school in his home town, he had little interest in caravan building, and age 13, gained a place at the Royal Naval College at Dartmouth in 1941 (at the height of WW2).  Following a successful time at RNC-D, he graduated as a Junior Officer in 1945, and was posted to the Battle Cruiser “HMS Frobisher” as Mid-shipman, and left immediately for Sydney Australia to take part in the proposed invasion of Japan.   Suddenly hostilities in Japan ceased (A-Bomb) and his ship was sent immediately to Hiroshima where Cecil was to be seen walking amongst the rubble of the town only a few weeks later. (Radiation? What’s that?]

During the next couple of years Cecil served on three of the four battle-ships of the Royal Naval Fleet, but a near fatal motorcycle accident ended what should have been an illustrious career, and after 18 months recovering in hospital he was invalided out of the Royal Navy.

‘Biting the bullet’ – so to speak, Cecil joined his parents as a director of CCC in the late ’40s and together with his parents, in 1950 they instigated the formation of the Cheltenham Owners Club, with Arthur as President, Joy as Treasurer and Cecil as Secretary.  The first COC chairman was Ralph Lee, a successful Harley Street dentist and caravanning adventurer.  It was at this time that Arthur and Cecil designed the new shape of the company’s models, incorporating GRP roof and ends with barrel shaped sides that we are all used to seeing now.  Cecil fell in love with Ralph Lee’s daughter Patricia. They were married in 1956, and had a daughter and son.   COC founder Arthur Gardner died in 1968 after a short illness and Cecil then took over as managing director, and, alongside his mother continued to run the CCC until, in 1974, the Government introduced a ‘Luxury Tax’ on caravans, which made hand-built models, like Cheltenham, to become priced out of the market. To counter this tax, the company built a ‘mass production’ model called “Explorer” in 1972, with modern 70’s styling, and which was, of course, much cheaper. It was not a success.  Only a few were sold, and it was withdrawn from the market the following year. Although promotional literature etc. was issued for 1975, it was decided to cease trading and close the company.

Cecil founded and became a director of the Cross Country Caravan (CCC) group, retailing caravans from several outlets across the South Midlands area, each director being responsible for one particular outlet. Cecil’s CCC outlet was at Shillingford Hill, Wallingford, Oxfordshire.  He resigned from this in March 1997.

He was also a member of the National Caravan Council for many years, becoming Chairman at one time, only resigning from the NCC in 1995. He was also an Officer of the SMMT from 1957.  This work for the caravan industry led to him being made a Freeman of The City of London.

In his retirement, Cecil turned his back on the Caravan Industry, and returned to his first love, the sea, and was often to be seen out sailing his yacht. 

Sadly, Patricia and Cecil lost their daughter at only age 28, a dreadful ordeal for them both.  His wife Patricia died in January 2019, and Cecil moved into a care home in Cirencester, where he died on 1st June 2020.

He is survived by his Son and three Grand-children.

Front end and roof of this Cheltenham prototype are in plastic.

This was photographed with director Cecil Gardner at the International Rally. Note Large skylight.



22) 25th Anniversary edition of Wanderer Published

item date 16/2/2018

21) Wanderer Now in full colour for 2017                                                                                                                                      item date 2/3/2017

20) John Wilson (Gloucestershire, Wiltshire Coordinator)                                                                                                                                   item date 4/10/2016

We are sad to report that John Wilson died on Saturday the 1st of October after a short illness.
John had for very many years taken an active interest in all sorts of vintage vehicles and was car section steward at the Stroud Vintage show for many years. He and Jo became interested in Vintage caravans when pre-war caravans started to be entered for John’s section. This prompted them to buy one which turned out to be their well-loved “Florence”. A few years later John and Jo were among those of us who formed The HCC in 1993. He later became area Coordinator for the Gloucestershire/Wiltshire areas promoting the club at such events as the Malvern Autumn Festival, Caravan and Camping Club Festival of Lanterns, Swindon Nostalgia Show and hosting an HCC National Rally at Slimbridge.

John and Jo have also hosted the “Meadowside” Social Rally on their own field every year since 2001. This has been one of the highlights of the HCC calendar and has been enjoyed by many members over the years. John was always keen to arrange an interesting visit for us on the Saturday and sometimes the destinations were kept a secret until we actually arrived there!

Even though John was not well this year he still insisted that “Meadowside” went ahead. He had to take frequent rests over the weekend but still managed to get around, sometimes on his scooter, to see everyone and get involved. He was very pleased we all came.

Jo has confirmed that the “Meadowside 2017” will go ahead in John’s memory and will be accompanied by Jo’s Charity Cream Tea on the Sunday.

John will be greatly missed by us all. We send our condolences to Jo and the family.

Our thoughts are with you all.

For funeral details please contact Club Secretary

John using his walking stick as a fuel gauge at Meadowside this August

Previous years

19) Anthony (Tony) John Plowright (HCC East Midlands Coordinator)                                                                                                      item date 29/05/2015

Sadly we recently learned of the sudden and very unexpected death of Tony after a heart attack.
Tony started his Vintage vehicle life with his first car in 1961 - a 1935 Morris 8 deluxe saloon following his driving test. His interest escalated in the mid ‘80s to include caravans of a similar era. On the formation of the HCC Tony, with his wife Frances, became active members. Tony became an area Coordinator organising many events and attending both those and many other club rallies.
He had a humorous and friendly character, always willing to help and take part and will be missed by all who knew him. Our thoughts and condolences to Frances, their sons and family.

The Funeral is on Monday 1st June, 11:00, at the Church of the Assumption, Beeston, NG9 1AE.
If you wish to attend please call George Windsor – see Wanderer for contact details.

18) Jo Wilson                                                               item date 20/05/2015

An update from Josie

Thank you all so much for your good wishes, cards and telephone calls, it was much appreciated. I am on the mend and walking the great distance of one and a half miles at snails pace, John can keep up with me! Hope to see you all soon. Love from Jo xxxxxx

17) May Wanderer Published                                     item date 20/05/2015

16) March Wanderer Published                                 item date 25/03/2015

15) Jo Wilson                                                               item date 3/3/2015

Unfortunately we have to report that Jo Wilson has recently been involved in an accident with a couple of large dogs (not her own) causing her to fall badly and break her hip and wrist. She has had to have a replacement hip and pins in her wrist. Thankfully, she is now recovering and starting to walk again.

On behalf of all your friends in the HCC we send best wishes to you Jo for a speedy recovery and look forward to seeing you back to your usual self during the year.

14) February Wanderer Published                             item date 24/02/2015

George and Angela are doing a great job with the Wanderer and have Published their second edition and would be happy to include any suitable contributions from members in future editions..

13) Dorrie Van Lachterop                                            item date 30/11/2014

Members will be saddened to hear that Dorrie passed away on the 21st November.

She had a long and fulfilling life, not only bringing up her young family, alone, after the premature death of her beloved husband, Van, but continuing caravanning with them and even towing on the Continent. Dorrie also took up a career in teaching, became a Justice of the Peace and a Samaritan, all of which reflected her love and respect for people and her considerable communication skills.
She was instrumental in the formation of The Loner’s Club, an organisation affiliated to the Caravan Club, for those who caravan alone and was currently their President, having held a number of roles on their committee through the years.
Dorrie joined the H.C.C. in 1996, thus renewing a long standing friendship with Bob Bissell, as they had both rallied with The Caravan Club in the 1960’s and ‘70’s and had many mutual friends.

She soon became an enthusiastic supporter of a number of H.C.C. rallies, in her 1960’s Cheltenham Fawn, always accompanied by her trademark black poodle, firstly Pollyanna and later Annabelle. She even had a claim to fame, featuring in a film for T.V., entitled “Caravans – A very British Obsession” and was thrilled to be recognised by viewers when out and about.
With her zest for life Dorrie so enjoyed the social side of our club and fortunately was able to attend rallies until July this year, with the support of her family. She had a real talent for telling amusing stories about her experiences and adventures and we were often reduced to tears of laughter in her company, our caravans and awnings shook with mirth on many occasions. She will be sorely missed by everyone.
I’m sure that all H.C.C. members will wish to join the Committee in offering their sincere condolences to Sandy and Jem and their families, at this difficult time.

Barbara Bissell.

12) Wanderer Editor                                                     item date 30/11/2014

We are pleased to report that George Windsor has kindly stepped into the breach.

Our sincere thanks to George who is currently getting to grips with his first issue. It will be a little while yet but is well under way.

11) Unfortunately Wanderer 172 which has just been published is the last one from our current editor Barry Lord.        item date 18/10/2014

Barry Has Published the Wanderer since June 2012 but due to pressure of work is no longer able to carry on. On behalf of the members and themselves the committee would like to offer its sincere thanks to Barry for his efforts in producing an excellent club magazine

At the moment we unfortunately have no one to fill Barry's shoes, so until this can be resolved we will not have a Wanderer. So If any member feels they can offer their services for this vital roll in the club please contact our secretary or any committee member as soon as possible.


Apologies for the gap in entries here but as some of you know I haven't been at home much during the season - Paul

10) Wanderer 167 out SOON                                               item date 5/2/2014

If you have not renewed yet, do it now - Don't get a RED MARK!

9) Renewal forms out with Wanderer 165                      item date 11/11/2013

Please renew promptly to minimise costs to the club.

8) Historic Caravan Club 20th Anniversary Rally                     item date 7/9/2013

  21-23 June, Ripon, North Yorkshire.

The event hosted by the HCC Northern Section was a great success and fully booked. Our thanks to everyone who organised and made this very memorable event a great success.

Below is the centre page from Wanderer 163, in colour for a change.

7) Margaret Squires                                                         item date 16/5/2013

Membership and Distribution Secretary

It is with great sadness that we have to report the death of Margaret early on Wednesday the 15th May after her battle with cancer.

Even though she had been ill for some time she still insisted in carrying on wth her duties as long as she could. She has been a firm supporter of the club from the beginning, both with Ron and more recently in her own right. We indeed owe her a great debt of gratitude for all the work she has done for the Club. Our thoughts and sympathy go out to her sons and daughter and our thanks for the help they gave Ron and Margaret over the years. If any members require Funeral details please contact Barbara Bissell or Roger Williams. Email on contacts page or phone details in Wanderer.

6) Wanderer 161 Out 


5) British Pathe' have released better quality film clips from their extensive newsreel archive. LINK

There are many showing caravanning from days gone by. Really worth a look.


4) The HCC stand at the Malvern Autumn Show, 28-29 Sept, is fully booked.

It is not often people back out, but if you want to go on the waiting list, contact John Wilson  01454 417974


3) The HCC 20th Anniversary Rally is fully booked with a waiting list!

This event is being organised by the HCC Northern Section and looks like being a very full weekend!

Our thanks to everyone involved.


2) The HCC is exhibiting at the Malvern Caravan Show 4-6th October

We are looking to put on a good display for a section of the public who would not normally see the alternative side of caravanning.

The Club Stand is now FULLY BOOKED but if you want to be on the waiting list contact 

John Wilson 01454 417974


1) BONHAM’S VOYAGEUR IDENTIFIED                        item date 14/4/2013

Credit:- Bonhams

Click picture for article and findings.

There was quite a stir in the historic caravan world in March 2012 when an interesting Bertram Hutchings caravan was auctioned by Bonham’s. The interest was as much for the hammer price as for the make and model of the caravan. Generally, when compared to the values of rare historic cars, caravans have been somewhat undervalued. The caravan in question was a “Voyageur” model. These are quite rare with only 5 known to exist.