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The ornate carving and painting, together with the beautifully furnished interiors, make the Gypsy caravan a wonderful subject for the patient modelmaker. There is a lot of work in each of these models; if you prefer a simpler caravan model refer to the Bow Top design in the "Model Wheelwright" Plans, and the Reading Van in the Voisey Collection.

Ledge Caravan

The Brush Waggon

Bradford Cart

The Ledge Caravan Click here for list

The ledge is perhaps the most interesting type of caravan, with its stepped body sides and delicate spindle racks underneath. Dunton of Reading was the most renowned of the caravan builders, and this is one of the best surviving examples of his work. It is owned by Reading Borough Museum, and now after being restored is on show to the public at Blake's Lock, Reading. The waggon is covered by carving, which is detailed on the plans. This caravan is not suitable for a beginner, but although it looks complex the basic shape is not difficult, and any competent modelmaker could tackle it. For those wishing to work to exhibition standard it should bring hundreds of hours of pleasure - I would think these plans are the most detailed available for any horse-drawn vehicle.


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The Brush Waggon Click here for list

For many years it was assumed that the Brush Waggon was extinct, then this beautiful vehicle was discovered by Peter Ingram of Selbourne. These living vans were used by itinerant vendors, and were unique in several ways. An obvious point is that the door is at the rear unlike any other caravan type. This feature was useful because it gave easy access to the van without having to unharness the horse. As well as the normal rib and plank construction body shell, there is an outer layer of cupboards and shelves with beautifully carved rails and spindles surrounding the body. The roof rack was reached by a ladder, usually stowed under the waggon, and was loaded with light but bulky items such as baskets and small chairs. The Brush Waggon is the perfect subject for the model-maker who enjoys small-scale woodcarving and the plans show the exact construction of the racks in enlarged detail.

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These attractive vehicles are still in use by travellers as general-purpose runabouts, and make a dashing outfit behind a frisky, piebald pony. The decoration is in the best tradition of the Gypsy waggon painters - this example belongs to Peter Ingram of Selbourne, and can be seen in his Gypsy Museum, which is alongside the yard and workshop where he paints and renovates the vehicles.

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