Gypsies! Wanderers! They were quite common in the British Isles. To some extent, they still are. The British gypsies were well known for their highly decorated and elaborately equipped caravans — virtually houses on wheels. This is an extraordinary example of such a vehicle. Notice the fascinating colors and detailed decoration. It was built right around 1900 by Will Wright and Rothwell Haigh, of Leeds, England. It is called a Bow-Top Caravan because of its roof’s shape. The roof style was distinct to this particular manufacturer. The company continued to produce such caravans until about 1925. The interior of this wagon is fully equipped for living. It includes a small stove for both heating and cooking, set inside a fireplace (complete with hearth and mantel). It has a good-sized double bed built over a series of storage cabinets. There is also a sitting bench and a small table for working and dining. Add a pair of horses, or a very strong single horse, and one is ready to roam the countryside.
The Jaunting Car was developed in Ireland very early in the 1800s. Notice that the body is mounted on long springs. The two seats are mounted lengthwise on either side of the cart. Four passengers could sit back to back and look out to the side as the vehicle moved along. The driver’s seat, of course, faces forward and is quite elevated. Some of these carts had no such seat and, in such a case, the driver might perch on the back of the lengthwise seats or actually use one of the passenger’s seats and drive while riding sideways. There is a small storage space in the very center of the vehicle and this compartment is accessed from the top. This carriage is sometimes called an Outside Car. It’s popularity never really spread beyond Ireland. It is not a very practical vehicle other than its ability to carry a large number of people over only 2 wheels. The ride was uncomfortable for passengers and they could easily be thrown out on sharp turns.