Fascinating holiday snaps from 1930s show early caravan holiday – and monkey souvenir

Posted on 23/10/2019 in Press Coverage

Incredible holiday snaps of a British couple’s caravan trip across Africa in the 1934s have emerged – and show they brought back more than good memories.

Because as well as taking more than 100 photos showing them meeting native people and battling through desert sands, the animal lovers appear to have returned with a monkey.

Pictures taken after they came back to England show the couple with a monkey in a garden in what appears to be an ordinary British street.

But it was far from an ordinary holiday when Mr and Mrs Fuller set off from Dover on the trip of a lifetime across the Sahara and French Equatorial Africa in a Chevrolet Eccles motor caravan accompanied by their maid.

Consequently, they documented the trip every step of the way. A photo album containing more than 100 images and a postcard album packed with vintage cards from locations passed en route have been found by Hansons Auctioneers together with a newspaper cutting about the trip. The albums will go under the hammer on October 22.

Charles Hanson, owner of Hansons Auctioneers, said: “Caravanning is hugely poplar in Britain and I’m sure many fans of this particular type of holiday will be fascinated by the images which show the vehicle inside and out.

“Back in the 1930s motor caravan holidays were a relatively new thing. In fact, the Eccles Caravans had only just started being built in Birmingham.

“At that time, they were the preserve of the well off, perhaps titled people who would have their motor homes custom built to order. Mr and Mrs Fuller were clearly a wealthy and adventurous couple. They set off on a trip keen caravanners today might be hesitant to undertake.

“But they returned home safe and sound as the pictures demonstrate, though at one point their vehicle is shown stuck in desert sand.”

The pictures show the trio at port, on board ship and heading through France. At Bordeaux the motor caravan was blessed by a priest before making its way to Algiers, the Sahara and numerous African settlements.

The travellers are seen befriending natives and living in basic surroundings, a tent pitched up for their maid, in what must have been a trip of a lifetime.

Mr Hanson said: “What an amazing adventure they must have had. Today people think nothing of travelling the world or taking a gap year but back in the 1930s, the era of the Great Depression, most British families were more likely to stay in the UK, perhaps visiting a seaside resort like Blackpool.

"But times were changing, holiday camps were emerging and those who could afford it loved the freedom of the new motor homes.”

The first caravan made purely for the pleasure of travelling across the country emerged in 1884. Its original owner, Dr William Stables, created a black and gold custom-made caravan in order to live like a ‘gentleman gypsy’.

The Caravan Club was formed in 1907 and by 1912 it had 267 members. Initially the preserve of the wealthy, by the start of the 1920s mass production had made them cheaper and more accessible.

The photo and postcard albums, lot 3339A sold for £180 on October 22 at Hansons Auctioneers with an estimate of £40-£60. Entries are now invited for Hansons December Library Auction – Entries close Friday 29 November.