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

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