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Romany caravan up for auction at Wymondham

PUBLISHED: 12:04 27 August 2009 | UPDATED: 15:07 14 July 2010

Tristram Smith at the East Anglian Motor Auctions with the Romany caravan which is up for auction at Wymondham.

Tristram Smith at the East Anglian Motor Auctions with the Romany caravan which is up for auction at Wymondham.

A century-old Romany caravan that escaped a ritual torching will go under the hammer in Wymondham next month.

Until recently, East Anglian Motor Auctions in the town dealt mostly with family hatchbacks, but a recent foray into the classic car market brought in this extremely unusual lot.

A century-old Romany caravan that escaped a ritual torching will go under the hammer in Wymondham next month.

Until recently, East Anglian Motor Auctions in the town dealt mostly with family hatchbacks, but a recent foray into the classic car market brought in this extremely unusual lot.

“Caravans like this are rare because of a Romany tradition of burning them when the owner died,” said auction house employee, Tristram Smith.

“I understand it was built around 1910 and it does need restoration - but there has been a lot of interest from collectors.”

The caravan was used as a changing room at a swimming pool for several years, and has spent the last decade in a garden just outside Mulbarton.

Before that, little is known about its long history, or its previous owners.

It is thought it will fetch between £3,000 and £4,000, and will likely go to a buyer who has the skills to return it to its former glory.

“I would think it would go to a collector who's going to restore it and put it in a private collection,” said Mr Smith.

The lot will be sold in the company's first classic car auction on Saturday, September 5, organised by Mr Smith, who is himself a keen vehicle restorer.

“I was given my first old car - a Humber - when I was just 15 and I used to spend all my time tinkering with it,” he said.

“I have had a love of old cars from that time on. I am hoping to put that knowledge I have to good use.”

“It's frustrating to go to a classic car auction and find there is no-one there who can answer your questions or talk with knowledgeable interest about the cars on sale.”

Other lots on offer include a 1950 Daimler Conquest, a 1933 Francis Barnett Cruiser motorbike and a 1965 Ford Zodiac.

Managing director, Chris Beckett, hopes that the new direction for the firm will be a success.

“I'm sure the classic car sales will appeal to many people's sense of nostalgia. I think a lot of people will come along for a good day out and to reminisce about the family cars they remember from their childhood,” he said.

More details can be found on the company's website at www.eama-norwich.co.uk or by calling 01953 859180.

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·Most Romany travellers have now switched to using modern caravans, but it is thought that around 1pc still use traditional wagons.

·Roald Dahl bought a traditional caravan in the 1960s, using it as a children's playhouse, and later as a writing room where he wrote Danny the Champion of the World.

·Wagons were covered with intricate carvings and gold leaf. A wagon's maker could be identified by their particular design.

·Building a wagon took anything up to a year and used many types of wood, including oak, ash and elm cedar.

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