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Recreational Vehicles (Hardback)

A World History, 1872–1939

Transport Photographic Books 20th Century 19th Century

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.

"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


"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

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Auto Express

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"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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