Astral Caravans: Long gone but still not forgotten

Astral caravans haven't been in production since 1980, but the dedicated Astral owners club carries on their legacy
Astral caravans haven't been in production since 1980, but the dedicated Astral owners club carries on their legacy

Thursday, 08, Mar 2012 01:33

by Chris Jefferies

Since the heyday of caravanning in the 1960s and 70s, many classic caravanning names have disappeared leaving barely a trace, while only a select few, such as Swift and Sprite, have survived and indeed flourished.

One such name that some CaravanTimes readers may be familiar with is Astral. The company enjoyed 21 years of trading with before going bust in 1980, but their dedicated members' club still keeps the name alive all these many years later.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the small, but highly committed Astral owners club - a group of friendly caravanners who have managed to meet up at least once a year since 1972.

The club includes third generation Astral owners, as well as founder members who have been rallying with the organisation for 40 years.

Not one to let a landmark pass him by, the club's chairman Andrew Ingham has organised a special event at Drax Social Club near Selby, which will feature a three-course lunch and slideshow looking back at some classic images from the illustrious history of Astral Caravans.

This event will take place from April 5th to 10th, with pitches priced at £6.50 per unit per night and Sunday lunch supplied for an additional £15 per head.

Proud heritage

The name Astral dates back to 1959, making it one of the oldest in UK caravanning. Over the company's 21 years, many popular ranges were launched, such as the Ranger, the Scout (pictured above) and the Flyte.

In their halcyon days, Astral was a big player on the touring caravan market, according to caravan historian Andrew Jenkinson.

"They were once a big name in the industry, ranking with Swift, Bailey and Coachman of today, being one of the largest exporters and manufacturers of both touring and holiday caravans," he said.

Andrew puts their decline down to combination of factors, most notably the general downturn in the British economy towards the end of the 1970s.

However, the Astral name lives on, not just through the owners club, but at the caravan sites up and down the country where this name is still held in high regard by those in the know.

Have you ever owned a second-hand Astral? Or perhaps somebody in your family bought a new one back in the 60s or 70s? You can share your experiences, memories and stories of classic caravans in our community forum

Comments - What do you think?
Related stories

Birmingham caravan show to return next February, NCC confirms

The Birmingham NEC will be getting a new February caravan show next year

The Birmingham NEC will play host to a major caravan show in February once again next year, as NCC Events has confirmed plans for The Spring Caravan & Camping Show 2013

COMPETITION: Win an Al-Ko caravan hitch lock in this month's prize draw

Readers have a chance to win a £100 Al-Ko hitch lock in this month's prize draw

To celebrate the impending start of the caravanning season, CaravanTimes has teamed up with Towergate Insurance to offer our readers a chance to win a hitch lock worth up to £100

VIDEO: Triple your living space with French expanding caravan

The BeauEr 3X slide-out caravan can triple the interior space in just 20 seconds

Britain could be about to welcome an innovative expanding caravan, the BeauEr 3X, which can triple in size in less than 20 seconds

Britain Popularity On TV Boosting Our Caravanning Tourism?

Celebs boosting the caravan world

Is being British becoming popular once again? All the best actors are British, all the best shows are British and all the best caravan sites are British. Is Britain's heavy TV and film presence bringing the masses to our lands for holiday?

Cities Need More Caravan Sites

Abbey wood one of the few sites in London

Big cities like London, Manchester and Leeds are amazing places to visit but they do seem to have an overwhelming lack of caravan sites, London especially. With the industry getting bigger these areas can introduce a lot more people to the touring lifestyle and open up urban areas to a lot more UK based tourists.

Keep That Summer Body Through Winter

Stay active and healthy while winter touring

With the cold setting in we are all adding some padding to keep warm at temperature plummets. With Christmas just around the corner we need to be careful to not get too lumpy and bumpy in the caravan this winter.

Tyre Safety Month And How To Keep Safe And Sound

Keep up safety

This month is Tyre Safety Month and as touring folk we are usually driving on 6-8 tyres at a time with another 2-3 stored on board in case of an emergency. So it is safe to say we are a large part of the tyre industry and we need to do all we can to not burn rubber at a fast rate.