Fed up with being stuck behind caravans on the motorway? Well things could have been different if an unusual 1970s Notts invention had ever taken off.
The ultimate in kitsch, the caraboat is a caravan that can also travel on water. Bizarre you might think, but Mick Griffin, spokesperson for the Caraboat Club explains :
"The caraboat was designed and made in Nottingham and was the invention of Tom Carr. He made them, for three years, at his small factory in Sutton-in-Ashfield, Notts. The hull was designed by John Askham, a naval architect and the moulds were made by Bourne Plastics of Langer, with the first caraboat coming off the production line in 1971."
A rare breed
Just 64 caraboats were ever built and they are now extremely rare, with only around half of them still known to be in existence. Mick tells us more:
"The caraboat has an exceptionally sturdy fibreglass hull, with a chassis built inside away from the weather and the water, only the suspension units and brakes, are mounted on the outside of the hull.
|A caraboat on dry land|
"Caraboat is not a conventional caravan. At the back, it has a rear entrance door. At the front it has what can only be described as a French window, with the small well deck area with two small seats. Inside the cabin it has four full berths, a cooker with oven, a full sink and drainer, wardrobe and a toilet compartment all in a caravan / boat that is only 16 feet long."
"The fascination with this most unusual craft grows even more when it becomes a boat. Reverse the caraboat into the water, pull a pin out of the hitch and it folds up against the front, lock it in place. Add all the boating gear like fenders to protect the hull, the outboard motor, poles, lifebelt and mooring ropes. And now it's a self propelled boat!"
The end of the caraboat
|Caraboats at a boat show|
Things could have been so different for the caraboat had it not been victim to a set of freak weather conditions.
Legend has it that in 1973 at Trent Lock, a press party were on a caraboat when strong wind caused the vessel to veer severely off course. "At just six horsepower, the engines were woefully underpowered" confesses Mick.
The occupants of the boat had to be airlifted to safety, and creator of the craft Tom Carr then went back to the factory and smashed the moulds, meaning no more caraboats were ever made.
But the caraboat story doesn't need to end there. The Caraboat Club are trying to trace all the remaining craft. If you have a caraboat, or know of any locally, or if you have any information about the company or the factory making them - the Caraboat Club would like to hear from you.
You can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org