The caravan, which was built in the mid to late 1800s, is one of only a handful remaining in the world so this is an extremely unique opportunity for someone to acquire a piece of history at auction.
Also known as a Romany Gypsy ledger caravan / vardo, the asset is property of the estate of the late Mr Jack McNeill and comes from a lifetime of appreciation.
It is thought that the wagon was brought from Wales to Ireland by a Mr Lovell and his wife during the First World War. Soon after they arrived in Belfast it is believed that Mr Lovell died from Black Flu and before he died, and about to be left alone, Mrs Lovell accepted compensation for the damage that the wagon had suffered in the sea crossing and gave up ownership.
It was the custom at that time in some Romany communities that the vardo was burned when the owner died, hence making this type of caravan particularly rare. This wagon luckily escaped as it had passed out of Mr Lovell’s hands.
In 1982 it came into the ownership of Mr McNeill. He completely stripped down, repaired, and repainted the original wood and metal employing the skills of craftsmen such as signwriter / restorer Mark Stead and wheelwright Cecil Watson. Where replacement was necessary, he sourced only authentic materials.
Whilst in the restoration process, a museum stated that they estimated therewere only five remaining in the United Kingdom. It is estimated that this number has decreased still further since then.
The wagon was transported to Bray, Co Wicklow in 1994 where it had a starring role in the feature film of Charles Dickens’ ‘The Old Curiosity Shop’.
Wilsons’ Plant, Machinery and Commercial Manager Richard McFetridge said: “I am delighted Wilsons Auctions have been entrusted to auction off such a special, historical asset. This horse drawn caravan has been meticulously cared for over the years and is a testament to its owners. I have no doubt this extremely rare wagon will be highly sought after and look forward to the outcome of the auction.”
Bidding on the wagon will open on Wednesday, December 15 at 2pm. Bidders will have a full 48 hours to take part in the auction and place their bids, as the bidding will time out at 2pm on Friday, December 17. Physical viewing is available at Wilsons Auctions Belfast, Monday to Friday, 9am –5pm. Online bidding only.