Bailey of Bristol: The first half of 65 years of history

The Bailey Maestro was sold for just £200 in 1948
The Bailey Maestro was sold for just £200 in 1948

Friday, 31, May 2013 03:22

Suzette Rabout

Bailey of Bristol is the longest established caravan manufacturer in the UK and with such a substantial history behind it, here at CaravanTimes we take a look at how it all began.

The Start

In 1947 a caravan which was built by Martin Bailey in his garage, was sold at Ashton Gate Market for a mere 200 pounds, but this was just the start. The model was a Bailey Maestro and F G Bailey Ltd, as it was then named, was fully formed in 1948 (the same year the NHS was started). The first touring model, The Bailey Maestro, was the start of a journey which could never have been imagined.


The 1950s saw a rise in the popularity of caravans as they were being used for holidays and temporary accommodation. The split in uses meant that there was a wider market for the company to reach out to and this resulted in the production of new models.

Smaller tourers were created for those holidaying, but a larger option was created ideally for use as a home. The Maestro Minor and Maritza were smaller touring models but the Bailey Maison (the French word for home), was an 18ft caravan which weighed 1,118kg. This larger model included carpeting and a two-burner stove to entice those looking for a temporary home.


With such a development in its first decade, the 1960s saw the company move from its original production base to a bigger site at South Liberty Lane, Bristol, which is where the company has remained up to the present day.

The company had become famous for its reliability and it was producing around 100 caravans a year by the end of the 60s. The manufacturer had a lot of attention from overseas markets and it was shipping to continents all over the world with models like the Bailey Maru - this model was 12ft 9inches long and weighed a mere 508kgs.


As the years passed so did the ownership of Bailey. In 1977 the company changed hands as it was purchased by Patrick and Stephen Howard and became Bailey Caravans Ltd, as it is called today. Ownership has stayed within the Howard family ever since.

The manufacturer at this point had three ranges including the new Clifton luxury range and the Prima range.

The Prima was the most popular of the decade and it still holds the lap record for all the major race circuits in the UK as it was used as a road racer. The towing dynamics, for which Bailey remains famous today, had a major part to play in this.

The company had developed massively throughout these three decades and had an even brighter future ahead.

Keep checking back with CaravanTimes for the second half of 65 years of Bailey of Bristol, where we will take a look at the 80s, 90s, 2000s and the present day.

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