Dorset

Dorset Wildlife Trust unveils restored Victorian van

  • 29 June 2013
  • From the section Dorset
The living van before and after restoration work
Image caption The van is thought to have been built in about 1900 in the south west of England

A rare Victorian so-called "living van" restored after being recovered from a Dorset nature reserve is now on show to the public.

The van can be viewed at Kincombe Meadows nature reserve following more than 300 hours of work to restore it.

It was donated to Dorset Wildlife Trust in 2004 along with Greenhill Down nature reserve where it had been used as a private shelter from the 1970s.

The van is also to be used as an education space from August.

It has been restored by Piddlehinton-based hut makers Plankbridge.

Image caption Angela Hughes donated the van to Dorset Wildlife Trust in 2004

Hut maker and restorer John Farrar said he aimed to remain true to the original design of the van, which is thought to have been built in about 1900.

He added: "I put myself in the mind of the people who made... and set about restoring it like for like."

Preserving history

The van has been dedicated to the memory of former Greenhill Down landowner Angela Hughes, who was also a vice-president of Dorset Wildlife Trust and donated it prior to her death in 2009.

Her son Felix Hughes said: "Preserving the living van is a really good idea.

"I spent time there three or four times a week when I was younger. It brings back great memories for me."

Rob Brunt from Dorset Wildlife Trust said: "We are so pleased with the living van.

"It is so important to preserve the history of Dorset Wildlife Trust and remember those, such as Angela Hughes, who helped us get to where we are today."

Living vans were used up until the 1950s and were often towed behind steam engines by road workers who used them as temporary accommodation.

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