Friday, 11 February 2011

A gypsy Wagon and the Kent WI

In January the local church had a book sale with lots of books lining the pews. I hadn't realised so only got there in it's last few days. I still managed to leave with a pile of books, I just can't resist them. One of them was called 'For Home and Country' WI magazines 1919 to 1959, compiled by Penny Kitchen. One article was great and I've used a picture from it which I hope is allowed.
In 1921 The 'East Kent Caravan Exhibition ' took to the road. Two ladies travelled for seven weeks touring the smaller hamlets and villages of East Kent. A night was spent at each Institute and an exhibition was held showing needlework, fur craft, toy making and booklets. Villagers were admitted into the vardo at 6d a head. A horse and man was supplied by each Institute to take the caravan onto it's next venue. Although it was successful, it was decided that ' it was too unwieldy and slow, especially where long distances and hills were concerned !.
I wonder if anyone has though of recreating the journey, I'd love to do it but I don't imagine for any moment that there would be a man and horse available in each village !
I think the wagon in the photograph is a Dunton Reading, but the mollycroft ( the raised central roof with small windows along it ) looks more basic than the norm, so I could be wrong. In 1889 Dunton & Sons were Coach and Wheelwrights working from Crane Wharf, Kings Road, Reading. Dunton Reading wagons were approximately 12' from ground to the roof,the rear wheel were 5' in diameter and the front 3'6. It's funny to think that the wagon in the picture would have been almost new at the time.If anyone out there knows of any more information about the WI and the wagon tour I'd love to hear from you.
I have a shop on Etsy selling postcards of my paintings showing Gypsy scenes

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