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June 25, 2019

Inside the Wanderer, the World's Oldest Leisure Caravan in Existence

William Gordon Stables was born in Banffshire in 1838. After attending Aberdeen University, he became a surgeon in the Royal Navy. He retired in 1877 due to ill health. Afterwards, in 1885, he commissioned ‘The Wanderer’, the first horse drawn touring caravan, which he called a Land Yacht.

Made from mahogany and maple wood, and painted black and gold, former naval officer Dr Stables wanted the life of a gypsy while traveling in style - spawning the nickname ‘Gentleman Gypsy’. Although it can be pulled by car, in Dr Stables’ day the work was done by two horses, Captain Corn-flower and Polly Pea-blossom.

The Edwardian caravan, which went on its first tour in 1885 has finally come to rest in the Cotswolds at the Caravan Club Site in Broadway.

Dr William Gordan Stables, right, in 1885 just after he designed and built the Wanderer.

Dr William Gordon Stables pictured standing with his caravan, The Wanderer.

Dr William Gordon Stables pictured with The Wanderer caravan.

The Wanderer caravan pictured with Dr William Gordon Stables seated on a blanket in the foreground.

Beverley Larion, of the Caravan Club, said: “We would prefer to keep it at the Caravan Club rather than in a storage facility so our members can enjoy it. It’s the most beautiful display of craftsmanship internally. The Woodwood, upholstery is all original.”

It was restored in the decade leading up to The Club’s centenary in 2007 when The Wanderer took centre stage at Buckingham Palace (HRH Prince Philip is The Club’s patron). There was a garden party to mark the centenary and The Wanderer was majestically pulled through the gates of Buckingham Palace by a team of horses, the original horse power of caravans.

Portrait of Dr William Gordon Stables (1837 – 1910).



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