Putting A Roadsman Back On The Road
Practical Caravan|April 2017

Memories of childhood caravanning inspired the Hembrys to buy this classic equipe, says Bryony Symes, but bringing it back to life was a labour of love.

Bryony Symes

STEVE HEMBRY AND wife Jan own one of the most stylish outfits you’re likely to see, a Ford Zodiac and a Castleton Roadsman, but it didn’t come easily, or quickly.

The saga began with a love of classic cars, and one car in particular. Steve has long been involved with the Ford MkIII Zephyr and Zodiac Owners’ Club, producing the bi-monthly club magazine for the past two years and as membership secretary for a year. It makes sense, then, that his pride and joy is a 1966 Ford Zodiac MkIII. And what better to pair a classic car with than a retro caravan? Castleton tourers are among the most loved in the classic and retro caravan world, and were known for their build quality and the use of traditional building techniques. Plus, they were produced just down the road from Steve in Dorset.

Welcome surprises

“I have fond memories of family holidays in the 1970s, when we would go to a pre-sited caravan, and decided that I wanted a classic van to take to classic-car rallies,” says Steve. “A farmer had posted an advert for this 1981 van in a magazine that I read, so I went for it. I picked it up from a small village near Sherborne – it hadn’t gone far from the factory where it was made! I moved it to the shed that my dad and I share, so that it could be kept under cover while I did the restoration work.

“The caravan was fairly complete when I collected it: all of the fixtures and fittings were there, and it even came with the unusual additions of a hairdryer and a Hoover! The only major concern was that there was some damp in the corners. Because of the building technique, water tends to get in through screw holes, but this caravan also had broken roof lights, so the damp was hardly surprising.

“Luckily, the chassis was fine and all I had to do was refurbish the brakes. In fact, it had a feature that isn’t seen in modern tourers: huge bellows beneath the chassis, presumably part of the vacuum assisted braking system. This must have been an optional extra, because it wasn’t standard issue.”

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