Romany caravan 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.

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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.

�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.