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The National Motor Museum Trust, Beaulieu, will commemorate the centenary of the First World War in a forthcoming project, Caravans and Charabancs – Leisure Motoring After the First World War. The Trust has been awarded £97,200 by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to undertake this innovative project over a two-year period.

Caravans and Charabancs will explore the untold legacy of this devastating conflict, charting how accelerated social and technological developments in wartime led to a revolution in leisure motoring in the decades that followed. A programme of community events, exhibitions and social media campaigns will encourage the public to engage with previously unseen aspects of the National Motor Museum’s Designated Photographic Collection and that of The Caravan Club Collection.

HLF funding will also enable the Museum to purchase and preserve a unique private collection of over 400 historic photographs and postcards featuring charabancs, the forerunner to the long distance coach, which offered affordable day trips to the British public. This collection will be integral in telling the little-known story of the First World War’s influence on post-war leisure motoring.

“As the war ended, those that returned home often did so with new ambitions and a bonus in their back pocket. Many were introduced to motor vehicles on the battlefield, and some were inspired to put their new-found skills to good use in peacetime”, explains Curator of The Caravan Club Collection, Angela Willis.

“Ex-war vehicles and surplus parts were sold off by the government at knock-down prices. These became the building blocks of charabancs and trailer caravans, fulfilling the demand for leisure journeys into the next decade.”

The National Motor Museum’s Director of Collections Andrea Bishop said: “The National Motor Museum at Beaulieu is delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund is supporting this community-based project which enables us to participate in the First World War commemorations. We look forward to engaging with new audiences as we explore and develop our Designated Collections, and to working with all project partners, including The Caravan Club.”

For more information visit HERE

Christopher Macgowan