Way back Wren: park delights nostalgia lovers

Michael Holgate looks out from the restored Wren built by his family over half a century ago

Michael Holgate looks out from the restored Silver Wren which was built by his family over half a century ago

Lovers of historic touring caravans now have a chance to add one of the rarest models in Britain to their list of sightings, thanks to a South Cumbrian holiday park.

Silverdale Holiday Park has marked its diamond anniversary by unveiling a fully restored 1960 Holgate Silver Wren, of which only a few hundred were ever built.

With its lovingly hand-crafted interior, the Silver Wren took touring down a new road of refinement for caravanners able to afford its then £820.00 cost – around £17,200 today.

But that’s not the only reason why the model took pride of place at Silverdale’s 60th celebrations in May, for the caravan’s makers were the same family which runs the park today.

The Holgates were early pioneers of touring caravan design and manufacture in Blackburn, Lancs, during the 1950s, and went on to establish Silverdale Holiday Park in 1956.

Today the business is run by Michael Holgate, grandson of founder Billy, and Michael says he is delighted at the interest being shown in the newly restored original Silver Wren:

Extensive wood panelling and period fabrics inside the restored Wren

Extensive wood panelling and period fabrics inside the restored Wren

“You don’t have to be a caravan buff to appreciate the workmanship involved in making this model look exactly as it would have to a customer over half-a-century ago,” he said.

“All of the Silver Wren’s original internal features are in place and look as good as new, from the gas mantles to the timber and brass fittings, all set alongside authentic period fabrics.

“Just stepping inside is like taking a nostalgia trip back to when life was led at a gentler pace, and caravans like this would create wonderful holiday memories for families,” added Michael.

The restoration was carried out by specialists Lucy Jayne’s Vintage Caravan Workshop in West Sussex which said they were thrilled to be able to work on such a very rare marque.

This year, the Silver Wren can be seen on display at the multi-award winning park near Arnside, one of six in Cumbria and Lancashire which Michael’s business owns.

But although Michael and his family are pleased that their 60th celebrations have been crowned by the restoration project, there was one final twist in the Silver Wren’s tale.

As the renovated tourer was making its way back from Sussex, news came through that another Holgates Silver Wren had suddenly appeared on the auction website EBay.

Within hours, Michael had agreed its sale with the Scottish Borders farmer in whose barn it had been languishing, and plans are now being made to bring a second Silver Wren back to life.

Despite years of neglect, said Michael, the caravan was in fabulous condition thanks to being stored in the dry – and is, coincidentally, precisely the same model and colour as its restored mate.

Silverdale provides over 500 caravan holiday homes to buy and to let, pitches for touring caravans, motorhomes and tents, and luxury timber-built camping pods.

Guests also have use of a raft of leisure facilities including a swimming pool, gym, spa, American-themed bowling alley, and a highly acclaimed restaurant.

There is more information about Silverdale and other Holgate parks at www.holgates.co.uk