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Vardos of the United Kingdom
Picture Library 9
Vardo History County

Nicely chamfered bowtop, deep red body colour with cream finelining, horse head motifs to either side of the rear window. A gold leafed horse carving on the weatherboard.

Pictures courtesy of David Hodgekins.




Window and door type bowtop, chamfers painted and picked out with finelining. Horse head motifs painted facing each other on the front seats. Bay window to the rear.

Pictures courtesy of David Hodgekins.



New build openlot, built to high standard by Warren Coulson of Co Durham. Good carved swept bed dray, all hard wood. Green body colour and cream unders awaiting decor.

Fully painted inside by Kevin, and 10 books of gold leaf used. Cut glass windows, cut glass mirrors, slide out bed and a bowed centre cabinet.

Pictures courtesy of Crystal Howe.



Window and door type bowtop, Bill Wright style Superbly decorated with plenty of gold leaf carvings. Tasteful scrollwork painted inside as well as out. Lovely finishing touches inside.


Pictures courtesy of William King.



Openlot - Bowtop

Boldly decorated openlot.  Two-tone green and gold scrollwork with grapes-and-apple motifs. 

Rich, colourful interior. Plenty of scrolls with deep reds, greens, oranges and golds.

Pictures courtesy of William King.



1930's straight-sided Burton style waggon.

Pictures courtesy of waggon owner.



Full size Bill Wrights bowtop made around 1920, restored by Alan, Cornwall

Pictures courtesy of Alex Lee


Openlot - Bowtop

Displayed in a garden centre in Buckinghamshire, these pictures were taken by James' late father in July 1970.
It is believed that the waggon was built about 1950 and the paintwork might be by Jimmy Berry, with a partial repaint by Peter Ingram. 
Pictures courtesy of James Blair

William Wheeler Gypsy Waggon

William Wealer Gypsy Cart Wagon over 100 year old on iron tyres, oven stove, pull up bed, all fitted mirrors, restored and painted by Freddy Jupe, Croydon.
Pictures courtesy of Waggon Owner

1906 Kite Waggon

Made in 1906 for The Hon Justice Eve by Jones of Summertown, Oxford.  Eve was not a Gypsy although mistaken for one at times, but was a very early caravanner touring the West of England in his specially built waggon.  It was originally black with red underworks.

Bought by Jonathan Shepherd from the Les Oakes Collection in August 09.  Excellent woodwork throughout, this waggon has now been restored (after these pictures were taken) to a green and cream theme by its new owner.

Pictures & info courtesy of Jonathan Shepherd.
N. Staffordshire


Window and door type bowtop on English pattern iron shod wheels, the woodwork is well carved and scalloped throughout. Thought to have been painted by John Pockett and finished in red to the body with yellow unders, all lined and decorated in yellow, green, maroon and cream.

The interior is in mid green and varnished wood with similar scrolling and decoration.

Pictures courtesy of Julie
Info courtesy of Allan


Bowtop - Restoration

Before and after photos of Georgina's caravan, who has 2 cabinet makers, Ian and Darren Platt, to thank for the fantastic restoration job they've done, sparing it from finishing life in the scrapyard.

It had been left standing for 15 years in a garden in Romsey, and Georgina was told about it by a friend.

Believed to be built in the 1920s, this bowtop received a lifeline from the skills of Ian and Darren and a new canvas that was delivered personally by Nick Dow.  The end result has been well worth it.

Pictures and info courtesy of Georgina Strange


Wooden Sided Auction

A 100 year old Gypsy Showman went under the hammer in Norfolk Sept 09.

East Anglian Motor Auctions in Wymondham mainly deal with family hatchbacks, but recently they acquired this extremely unusual lot.

The Showman is understood to be built around 1910 and during its life it was used as a changing room at a swimming pool. Its last 10 years however was spent sitting in a garden near Mulbarton. Unfortunately, little is known about it before that time.

It has had a professional restoration on the chassis and wheels 8 yrs ago, and now needs further restoration work to the body.

Pictures and info courtesy of Tristram Smith


Hand-built Bowtop

Built by Peter Dyas-Harold, a blacksmith by trade, from scratch on top of an Evesham dray. Kept indoors for the winters and rolled out in the summers. Decorated by Peter and Jackie Dyas-Harold.

Pictures courtesy of Peter Jones



Original Evesham dray with a newly built body by Warren Coulson.

On iron-tyred wooden wheels, unders ready for decor on top of a cream base. Green body colour also awaiting final decoration - lining and scrollwork.

Striking two toned stained cupboards inside and Queen Anne stove.

Pictures courtesy of Jim



Photo taken at New Galloway, Scotland - three waggons on the way to Appleby Horse Fair 2009

Picture courtesy of Julie Ann McKnight


Living Waggon

Built and painted by David Gregory summer 2009, this living waggon sits on top of an old farmer's dray.  The dray was found in a field and it promptly collapsed as soon as Dave got it home!  So he completely refurbished it and says he "sort of got carried away".

Gertrude is 16ft long and 6ft wide, and has a fixed double bed and living area. She's not built to any particular style, just a collection of ideas, with a narrowboat theme to the painting.

Pictures and info courtesy of David Gregory


Half-size Reading Waggon

Finished in April 2010, this is Gary's latest waggon project. Taking over 4 years to build with help from the owner, it's a great achievement for Gary, who's wheelchair bound. This is the 3rd waggon he has built in 12 years. Gary says his 4th will be another Reading but an early type with no mollicroft, and it will be bound for Denmark on completion.

Gary does all the woodwork and carving and makes his own wheels. He also does all the metalwork, the glass and mirrorwork, and the painting and gilding.

We look forward to seeing his next waggon. Good luck with the build Gary.

Pictures and info courtesy of Gary Doe.


Kite-style Waggon

Recently built Gypsy Kite Waggon, based on Toad's Caravan from "Wind in the Willows".

Built on an unsprung chassis using steel carriage wheels with rubber tyres and working turntable.

Designed as a fancy home office with mains electrics. Retirement project, and taken 3 years. to complete.

Pictures and info courtesy of Richard Aldridge.


Openlot Bowtop

Red-bodied openlot with cream unders, decorated with scrolls and acanthus. Paintwork by Lee John Fell. The woodwork belongs to his father-in-law.

Pictures and info courtesy of Lee John Fell.


Burton Showman

1910 original Burton Showman waggon. Restored and painted by Mr Bates, with extensive external work carried out. A new fibreglass roof has been fitted.

Pictures courtesy of Mr Bates.



This waggon has beautiful painted gamecocks and pheasants on the sides, goldfinches on the window shutters, bullfinches on the inside, and waggon and camp fire scenes inside and on the pan box.

Pictures and info courtesy of Waggon Owner.

West Midlands

Original Reading Waggon

Approx 100 years old, this waggon has been horse drawn to Appleby Horse Fair and on many parades.

Pictures courtesy of Waggon Owner.

West Midlands

Half-size Ledge Waggon

This little ledge was built and painted by Bob Smith of Brigg and is roughly a half size waggon.

All the unders are ash. Bob turned the axles himself and made the wheels from oak and ash, steel tyres. The roof is built up from layers of linen and varnish topped off with cream paint.

Inside just as much attention taken with detail, Bob even made the little stove out of wood

It took 6 months to complete in his spare time outside under a sun canopy and built with the help of all 5 of his little grandchildren, all fun to do.

Selling soon in order to help finance a full size waggon project in the near future, Bob is at the moment building a dray.

 Pictures and info courtesy of Waggon Owner.



This window n door type bowtop was painted by the skillful hand of Josephine McSkimming, with romany vardo and horse scenes depicted on the front, side panels and on the kettle box. A theme continued inside as well.

The dray it was built on was found in a shed in Scotland, the lock and iron work was all that could be saved.

Pictures and info courtesy of Jim.


One for the Grandchildren

A 'fun vardo' built especially for the grandchildren, having been inspired by the GypsyWaggons website gallery.

Mr Campain has recreated as much as possible: the shape, shafts, wheels, etc. All made from basic materials from the local D.I.Y. shop, apart from the wheels, which were obtained secondhand.

The size is 8ft x 4ft overall - not too big for the garden - and doubles up as a garden furniture store during the winter months.

Pictures and info courtesy of N Campain.


Restored Bowtop

Aly didn't have much previous knowledge of vardos but he had a keen knowledge of woodwork, so he accepted the challenge to restore this bowtop for an old friend. 

Pictures and info courtesy of Aly.


Ledge Waggon

In superb condition.  This waggon has hardly been used and has been stored inside for most of its life.

Pictures courtesy of Simon



Nice little bowtop which has had plenty of use in the last 2years and been up to Kenilworth a few times. The waggon was only half built when Darren originally bought it, by a traveller out of the Black Country. He then painted it, put the insides in, stove etc., and recanvassed. Now sold, Darren is just finishing off a new project.

Pictures and info courtesy of Darren.

West Midlands

Circus Waggon

This is an unusual waggon often mistaken for a shepherds hut/burton, but it is in fact a circus waggon built for housing small animals such as monkeys to live in. Dating to around 1905, previous restoration was carried out in 1976, but it fell into disrepair until the current owner
rescued it from being used as a chicken shed.

It has now been restored from the ground up by waggon restorer Gary Brinklow. Looking resplendent in pillar box red and bright yellow, and awaiting decoration.

Pictures and info courtesy of Gary.


Half-size Open lot Waggon

This little openlot was made by Bob Smith of Brigg, who last year built the half-size ledge waggon ref no: 344 in our gallery.

He was in the middle of building a dray when submitting the ledge, but as he says ' got carried away' and built this lovely openlot instead.

Again he made everything himself, from wheels to stove - that's made out of wood too.

 Pictures and info courtesy of waggon-owner.


New build Ledge Waggon - Rambling Rose

A beautiful Showman’s Wagon – Rambling Rose.  Her name is carved into the door and gilded. She is a full size ledge wagon built entirely from scratch by one man, Roger Brayford, starting in 1988.

A skilled wood-worker, his original idea was to build a scale model to occupy him whilst he was in a wheelchair awaiting surgery. He has used hand tools throughout – not a piece of machinery has been used in her creation.

He had been friendly with gypsy children in a camp in Whitchurch, Shropshire, near to where he lived as a boy. He  was always made very welcome there, spending many carefree and happy hours in their company and that of their parents. So knowing that he would have plenty of time on his hands for a while he decided that he would make a model of a gypsy caravan as a tribute to those happy times and friends he once knew. However, when he got the plans he decided that if he scaled up all of the pieces , he could create a full size wagon! 

The unders began life as a dray hauling cotton on the Liverpool Docks. The flat bed body had already succumbed to rot but the turntable and axles, etc. were in superb condition, fortunately.  So began a labour of love, spending countless hours during the next 23 years until the magnificent wagon was finally finished. The interior is as exquisite as the exterior.  Materials used were red deal and saple and she has bent ash shafts. 

The fireplace / stove was removed from a Victorian barge, so that would also have a tale to tell if only it could talk!

There are carvings of gilded ears of wheat, vines, grapes, horses’ heads, flowers and a wealth of detail throughout. A favourite carving of mine is the gilded angel within a horseshoe over the sleeping area.

Rambling Rose is not only a labour of love, but a mobile work of art.

Pictures and words courtesy of Lesley .

North Wales

Open lot Waggon

Known as ' Lady in Red '  by the owner
D Beaney in North Kent, who restored and painted her.

Pictures and info courtesy of D Beaney.



'Model' Waggons

Pint size models of a Bow top and Ledge made by Keith Brearley

Pictures courtesy of K Brearley.


Child size Waggon

Built by Chris Jackson for his granddaughter

Pictures courtesy of Chris Jackson              


'2 New Builds'

Inspired by his father's Romany background and fun memories of helping him to build a small square bow waggon as a 10 year old boy, and later on a bow top waggon aged 12, Dave Bryan longed one day to build his own waggon.

So, aged 40 years he decided to do that but because of busy roads these days and not wanting to take his coloured cob out with a wagon on them, he set his sights on building a wagon on the back on a LDV lorry and after aquiring one he started work on it in his spare time, completeing it 3 years later.

The bottom pic is a photo of Dave and his dad, who now lives in Canada and who built the bowtop they're sitting on aged 76!

Pictures and info courtesy of Dave Bryan.


1895 Phillips of Newport

Old original waggon built by Phillips of Newport in 1895 and owned by William and Margaret Ford of Brynmawr. Still in the family, it's now owned by their great granddaughter R Deakin

Pictures and info courtesy of R. Deakin


Bill Wright Ledge Waggon

Elijah Arrowsmith and grandson, of Shropshire, on the road again, with his Bill Wrights ledge waggon in 2012.

Pictures and info courtesy of Charlene Arrowsmith


Hand made Models

Richly detailed examples of hand made & hand painted model bowtops and a dray, made by Richy G.

Pictures and info courtesy of Richy G


Burton Type Waggon

Made by WG Bradford, Salop.

Bought in Dumfries and fully restored 2 years ago.

Pictures and info courtesy of waggon owner.

N. Ireland

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Gypsy caravans of the UK