Roll up, roll up for showman’s wagon under the hammer

Robert Dunkerley with his vintage showman's wagon
Robert Dunkerley with his vintage showman's wagon
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This restored Brayshaw’s living van is up for auction

The family who originally lived in this showman’s van were well used to bringing thrills, spills and smiles to fairground-goers who spun on the walzers, hurtled down helter skelters and tried their luck at hook-a-duck. They would be amazed to find that their former home has had the same effect. The magnificent mobile home has attracted queues of people at steam and vintage vehicle rallies.

The 1940s showman's wagon

The 1940s showman's wagon

“That’s been the joy of owning it. It brings so much pleasure,” says owner Robert Dunkerley, a retired builder, who is preparing to say goodbye to the 28ft long living wagon that he has painstakingly restored. Built by Leeds-based William Brayshaw and Sons in the late 1940s, it is in the Cheffins Harrogate Vintage Sale at the Great Yorkshire Showground on August 19. The auction guide price is £12,000 to £15,000.

Brayshaw’s began as blacksmiths but by the late 1800s they were making basic living wagons for showfolk. By the 1930s they were building “palaces on wheels”. Mr Dunkerley, 65, who lives near Doncaster, bought his at an auction ten years ago. “I started restoring vintage vehicles in my twenties as a hobby and I’ve done all sorts, including a bread van and a shepherd’s hut, but it was always my ambition to have a showman’s wagon. I am only selling because I am getting older and it’s a big thing to own. I’ve spent several thousands on it but it’s never been about the money, it’s about saving our heritage.”

The timber-framed, aluminium-clad van is packed with original features, including walnut panelling and Mollycroft windows. The sitting room features a fold-down bed and fireplace and the kitchen comes with a sunken bath hidden beneath a trapdoor in the floor. The bedroom has built-in storage and a dressing table.

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