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Recreational Vehicles (Hardback)

A World History, 1872–1939

P&S History > By Century > 19th Century P&S History > By Century > 20th Century Photographic Books Transport

By Andrew Woodmansey
Imprint: Pen & Sword Transport
Pages: 240
ISBN: 9781526792457
Published: 14th January 2022

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Has there ever been a stranger idea in the vehicle world than putting a house on wheels and taking it on holiday? However odd it may seem, it’s an idea that has caught on. Today there are 15 million recreational vehicles, or ‘RVs’, on the roads of Europe, the USA and Australasia. So how did this fascinating family of vehicles come about? Who were the first recreational nomads, what made them want to take to the road just for pleasure and what did the first RVs look like?

The wild ideas of RV pioneers around the world led to both streamlined successes and spectacular failures. This history beautifully illustrates the vehicles and exploits of the early RV mavericks with over 250 period photos of the vehicles, their builders and their owners. It explores the evolution of the RV from its horse-drawn roots through the steam era to the golden age of 1930s caravans and motorhomes. Many rare photos of early RVs were uncovered during the research for this book and are being published for the first time. These photos shed new light on the history of the RV.

The RV family is a global one, with six countries in particular having a strong RV heritage - the UK, USA, France, Germany, Australia and New Zealand. In a world first, this history compares the early evolution of RV design and usage in each country. Also featured is an international gallery of RVs adapted for non-recreational purposes. By portraying not just the vehicles but also the trends, people and fashions of the period, this unique RV history reveals the remarkable early days of transport-based tourism and leisure. Andrew Woodmansey’s engaging account of the early days of the RV will appeal not only to RV enthusiasts but also to anyone with an interest in how vehicles set us free to roam the world.

"A good book takes you to places you’ve never been and opens your perspective in ways you might never have considered. This book does just that with an object so ubiquitous that we don’t really notice them, the recreational vehicle or RV....If you have an interest in this subject or own one of these vehicles, this is an important volume to have. Even if it's not in your normal sphere of interests, you will never see or think about RVs the same once you’ve read it. I know I won’t."

Read the full review here.

IPMS/USA

"...its very well researched, interesting & informative to our club."

George Windsor, Editor of the Historic Caravan Club

"No doubt Woodmansey's compilation of material from a part of western Europe and the Anglosphere is new and the abundant illustrations are a highlight of his book."

Harriet Edquist, professor at RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia and founding president of Automotive Historians Australia Inc

This book is well written, well presented and extremely enlightening.

Read the Full Review Here

Vintage Airfix

I was taken by the cover of this book. And soon found its inside to be fascinating. Helped by innumerable well reproduced period photos, showing all manner of unlikely vehicles, it takes you on a world tour of caravans, from beginnings you probably will not have thought of, up to the start of the Second World War.

It is intriguing to look at and carefully and thoroughly researched, written and produced.

Mercedes Benz Club

Featured

Rolls-Royce and Bentley Driver Facebook page

As featured in

Classics Monthly

"Reading about the early iterations of these niche vehicles has been something of an eye-opener."

The Bulletin of the Vintage Sports-Car Club - No. 316 Summer 2022

As Featured In
Issue 317, July/August 2022

Society of Automotive Historians Journal

This well-written and -produced book, generously illustrated, too, offers its readers “a curated selection of early RV’s [sic] from countries where
these vehicles have become part of the leisure culture.” If the topic or the times are of interest, you’ll not be disappointed when your copy arrives.

AACA's Antique Automobile magazine

As featured in

What Motorhome

Despite having 'recreational vehicles' in the title, the book is the first ever international history of caravans, motorhomes, camping trailers, fifth wheelers and teardrops. The first chapter is dedicated to the UK and the cover features Noel Pemberton Billing’s Road Yacht of 1927. The early days of horse-drawn caravanning are covered as well as the steam-drawn caravans of France at the turn of last century.

It has chapters on the UK, USA, France, Germany, Australia and New Zealand, illustrated by 300 black and white images of archival quality. It features not only the vehicles but also their designers, owners and users. As such it is a social and leisure history of the early twentieth century as well as an automotive one. With its new discoveries of early RVs from around the world, the book re-writes RV history.

Rapido Caravan Owners Club site

A unique automotive pictorial history, "Recreational Vehicles: A World History 1872 - 1939" is a simply fascinating read from cover to cover. Of special and enduring interest for automotive enthusiasts and historians, "Recreational Vehicles: A World History 1872 - 1939" is profusely illustrated throughout with black-and-white photography in support of an impressively informative commentary. A pure pleasure to simply browse through one delightfully nostalgic page at a time, "Recreational Vehicles: A World History 1872 - 1939" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university library Automotive History collections and supplemental curriculum reading lists.

Read the full review here

Midwest Book Review

"As someone immune to the charms of RVs generally, I still found this book really interesting and enjoyable."

New Zealand Classic Car magazine, August 2022

With the publication of "Recreational Vehicles: A World History 1872 - 1939", author, traveler, and automotive historian Andrew Woodmansey provides his readers with detailed and chronological history that beautifully illustrates the vehicles and exploits of the early RV mavericks with over 250 period photos of the vehicles, their builders and their owners.

It also explores the evolution of the RV from its horse-drawn roots through the steam era to the golden age of 1930s caravans and motorhomes. Many rare photos of early RVs were uncovered during the research for this book and are being published for the first time. These photos shed new light on the history of the RV.

The RV family is a global one, with six countries in particular having a strong RV heritage - the UK, USA, France, Germany, Australia and New Zealand. In a world first, this history compares the early evolution of RV design and usage in each country. Also featured is an international gallery of RVs adapted for non-recreational purposes.

By portraying not just the vehicles but also the trends, people and fashions of the period, this unique RV history reveals the remarkable early days of transport-based tourism and leisure. Andrew Woodmansey's engaging account of the early days of the RV will appeal not only to RV enthusiasts but also to anyone with an interest in how vehicles set us free to roam the world.

Critique: A unique automotive pictorial history, "Recreational Vehicles: A World History 1872 - 1939" is a simply fascinating read from cover to cover. Of special and enduring interest for automotive enthusiasts and historians, "Recreational Vehicles: A World History 1872 - 1939" is profusely illustrated throughout with black-and-white photography in support of an impressively informative commentary. A pure pleasure to simply browse through one delightfully nostalgic page at a time, "Recreational Vehicles: A World History 1872 - 1939" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university library Automotive History collections and supplemental curriculum reading lists.

Midwest Book Review website

"Andrew's engaging account of the early days of the RV will appeal not only to RV enthusiasts but also to anyone with an interest in how vehicles set us free to roam the world."

Read the review here

The Senior

Full of wonderfull photos and information highlighting the innovative thinking of early caravan/rv pioneers from around the world. I have found it very interesting that so many of these pioneers were unknowingly all “marching to the same tune” seeking ways to make their vans more efficient in use of space, aerodynamics, lightness in weight and strength in construction. Andrew has done an amazing job researching and putting this all together
I would commend this to all whether you are a dedicated VVer or a modern grey nomad to get yourself a copy, it’s great reading.

Vintage Caravans Forum

Has there ever been a stranger idea in the vehicle world than putting a house on wheels and taking it on holiday? However odd it may seem, it's an idea that has caught on. Today there are 15 million recreational vehicles, or 'RVs', on the roads of Europe, the USA and Australasia. So how did this fascinating family of vehicles come about? Who were the first recreational nomads, what made them want to take to the road just for pleasure and what did the first RVs look like?The wild ideas of RV pioneers around the world led to both streamlined successes and spectacular failures. This history beautifully illustrates the vehicles and exploits of the early RV mavericks with over 250 period photos of the vehicles, their builders and their owners. It explores the evolution of the RV from its horse-drawn roots through the steam era to the golden age of 1930s caravans and motorhomes. Many rare photos of early RVs were uncovered during the research for this book and are being published for the first time. These photos shed new light on the history of the RV.The RV family is a global one, with six countries in particular having a strong RV heritage - the UK, USA, France, Germany, Australia and New Zealand. In a world first, this history compares the early evolution of RV design and usage in each country. Also featured is an international gallery of RVs adapted for non-recreational purposes. By portraying not just the vehicles but also the trends, people and fashions of the period, this unique RV history reveals the remarkable early days of transport-based tourism and leisure. Andrew Woodmansey's engaging account of the early days of the RV will appeal not only to RV enthusiasts but also to anyone with an interest in how vehicles set us free to roam the world.

5 Stars

Library Thing

In his work, Recreational Vehicles: A World History 1872-1939, Woodmansey gives his readers an illustrated history of the most significant countries that developed motorhomes and travel trailers.

Even if you’re not an RV historian, “Recreational Vehicles: A World History 1872-1939” is a great read filled with incredible stories and characters.

US RV Camping Magazine - June 2022

"The illustrations and photos are worth the book alone, and the history lessons are excellent - a treasure for any RVer’s library shelf."

Escapees magazine - May/June 2022

As featured in

Campervan

"A very useful and readable book well-illustrated with a lot of newly-published material of 230 plus pages."

'Wanderer' magazine, Historic Caravan Club - May 2022, No.221

"A genuinely interesting and enjoyable read."

The Automobile - April 2022 edition

As featured in

MMM (Maidstone, Medway Magazine)

The sheer scale of the photographic content and its exceptional quality, coupled with an informative and highly detailed narrative, makes for excellence. Not to be missed.

Society of Automotive Historians

As featured in

Practical Motor Home

Read the review here

Vintage Caravans Forum

"You can’t help but be amazed by the often peculiar and creative attempts to blend the fashion of the day with the practical needs of touring the roads."

The Wanderer, the magazine of the Campervan and Motorhome Club of Australia - April 2022

"A Kindle is great for many things, but sometimes you just need to chop down a tree. This is one of those reasons".

Campervan magazine - April 2022 Issue

"It is a great coffee table book and would make an excellent gift for that keen RVer in your life who has pretty much everything else he could want and will provide many hours of reading that will be both educational and frequently surprising."

Caravan World magazine (Australia) - Issue 621, March 2022

As featured in

Practical Caravan

As featured in

Auto Express

Review as featured in

Caravan

"This is a superb book and a credit to its author. It is highly recommended."

Read the review here

The Society of Automotive Historians of Britain (UK)

Featured here

Caravan Camping Sales

"Everything you ever wanted to know about the early history of the RV."

Caravan Camping (Australia)

"The best summary I've read about the club."

Terry Bone, Royal Chief, The Tin Can Tourists (USA)

"I am so very impressed at the way you have provided so much new information. The illustrations are terrific and the layout is excellent"

The Society of Automotive Historians of Britain (UK)

"The book is the perfect addition to the coffee table of any caravan or motorhome owner wishing to discover more about the heritage of the leisure touring holiday."

Caravan and Motorhome Club (UK)

"The best quality RV history book on the market."

David Woodworth, RV historian (USA)

Read the article here

The Michael Sedgwick Trust

About Andrew Woodmansey

Andrew Woodmansey is a recreational vehicle historian based in Sydney, Australia. Born near England’s New Forest, Andrew enjoyed many family caravan holidays as a child. After studying at Cambridge University, he embarked on a finance career spanning six countries, finally settling in 2000 in Australia, where he worked in senior operational roles at the Sydney Opera House and elsewhere. In 2014 he wrote ‘The Caravan Buyers Guide’. Andrew now writes about RV history and explores Australia in his camper trailer.

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