The story of the holiday caravan park

Back in time and not all that long ago a holiday caravan park was in most cases quite basic with few facilities.

Pitches were not planned out particularly well and it was this situation that brought the caravan park owner a bad name. But things would improve over time making static caravan ownership more desirable.

a group of contented caravanners from the 1920s
The early 20’s saw caravanners pitch by the side of a road or on a farmer’s field.



Back to the early 1920’s when the car-pulled caravan was slowly taking off, no official sites existed, so it was a case of stopping by the side of a quiet lane or getting a farmer’s permission to pitch up. By the 1930’s, small caravan sites starting forming and larger tourers would be laid up. By now the holiday caravan park had formed.

1930s caravan
By the 30’s small caravan unofficial sites would be founded with just a few tourers left “static”

The 1940’s and World War II saw caravans being left sited due to petrol shortages and after the war these unofficial sites became permanent. But new laws saw sites close or upgrade with better road systems, landscaping and toilet blocks.

1940s caravan park
After WW2 the caravan park was becoming established – but with no careful planning such as the above gave caravans a bad name

The static caravan had also arrived, getting longer and wider, and sites started to plumb in water.

The 1950’s saw the boom in static caravan holidays as static caravans became popular for hiring, especially those located by the sea.

1950s caravan park
By the 50’s that field had grown into a full blown caravan park with café and shops and on site activities

By the end of the 50’s sites were having their own shops built, keeping visitors spending their cash on the park. Plus there were swimming pools (outdoor) and clubhouses with entertainment laid on.

1950-1960 park
Many parks had post cards made for visitors to send back home, it also advertised the park too!

The 1960’s would also be a time when caravan park owners would look at full plumbing for the larger, better equipped holiday caravans, coming on to the market. Shower blocks / and baths were now available and the loo blocks were more modern. The quieter parks were seeing more planning taking place with tree screening and with new planning laws it wasn’t as easy to get planning permission for a caravan park as it had been just after the war.

By the 1970’s some holiday parks were adding mains sewerage, as well as electrics, as the new holiday caravan owner demanded more.

1970s caravan park
By the 70s parks looked like this – better landscaping, planning and facilities became the norm

Manufacturers provided upgraded caravans and in some cases they bought caravan parks, such as Bluebird, Belmont, Holgate and Ci Caravans, and one time big Scottish maker Thomson. Holiday caravan hire was big business by the 70s, especially in seaside areas and parks on the south and east coasts of the UK saw masses of static caravans in neat rows.

By the 80’s indoor swimming pools and also full mains supplies were added to most large caravan parks. The humble gas light disappeared by the mid 80s, as electrics and showers were mainly standard fit in holiday caravans.

The site loos were for the touring area of a park now and this meant the holiday caravan was now more self contained with on board toilets linked to sewerage systems. With large park operators, manufacturers would design a model for a particular park, and again this was big business.

By the 1990’s, holiday parks were now light years away from the once unkempt field, with a tap in the corner, and the holiday lodge was gaining new buyers.

1990s caravan park
By the 90’s and to the modern day the caravan park is more environmentally friendly

The once basic overgrown tourer with gas lights and bucket loo was to become a distant memory! With the internet the holiday caravan park owner has had to provide this, along with piped TV, and of course extended season opening.

The holiday caravan park now offers a lifestyle for couples and families, with lodges and static caravans, designed now for all year use.

modern day caravan park

The caravan park of today is so different with WiFi, Apps and online booking for those who hire out their unit. There are even better restaurants and bars, plus some parks have a whole host of activities on offer as competition is fierce for holiday parks to be the best. From fishing, to quadbiking, climbing and archery, many parks cater for a wide range of leisure activities. Plus there are some lodge only parks, with hot tubs and indoor spas for the ultimate holiday retreat. Some parks are also now adding charging points for those electric car users too!

2019 caravan park

Green credentials are a major consideration, as well as a host of awards up for grabs, such as the David Bellamy Conservation Award for the work parks do to protect and enhance the natural environment, and even a Loo of the Year award!

Although it’s come a long way, the idea of an easy, relaxing holiday is still central to holiday caravan ownership in 2019 – as well as the Great British Staycation!

3 comments on “The story of the holiday caravan park

  1. So many happy memories of caravan holidays in the early 60s with my parents at their caravan. Fetching the water in a bucket from the only tap, no TV, cooking facilities were in a small hut next to our caravan, doing jigsaws, and making shell dolls. Happy memories. Then we took our children to the upgraded version in the 80s and 90s. Now, parents are no longer with us, and we are taking our grandchildren to our caravan. Nearly 60 years of wonderful caravan memories.

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