40 years of memories under the hammer, as iconic gypsy caravan is sold

IT WAS first bought using a horse saddle, scrap metal and car batteries, but an authentic gypsy caravan with a fascinating history has been auctioned off for �7,000.

At Sworders in Stansted, on Tuesday, owner Georgie Roy said a tearful goodbye to her original Reading-style horse drawn caravan built by FJ Thomas of Chertsey.

As it went under the hammer, over 40 years of memories came flooding back as she reminisced about her travels across the UK and northern Europe.

“I have had so many lovely memories,” she said. “I can remember having to put it on the back of a trailer when my horses got quarantined after arriving from Belgium!”

Producing five scrapbooks full of clippings from newspapers she adds: “I have been all around the country in this thing – it is a shame to see it go.

“I just want someone to have it, someone who will look after it and get more use from it then I do now.

“I’ve kept it all these years because I wrote a book on the amazing things that happened. But I never had the confidence to do anything with it. As this will not happen now, it is time for it to go to a new home where it can be loved again.”

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The caravan was originally exchanged for a saddle, two sets of harnesses, 20 car batteries and two tons of scrap iron and it was later bought for 12 pigs, four troughs, two bags of sugar beet pulp and �5.

At one point it was home to 10 gypsies living near Little Waltham.

Mrs Roy, who leaves in Beazley End, then saved it from being scrapped in 1968, and fully refurbished it before starting on a six-week journey after a “five shilling bet” with a friend.

That then progressed into hundreds of adventures, including a 400-mile trip around Holland with a hired Dutch horse, a six-month journey through Belgium and Germany, being arrested in Aylesbury, and being hijacked near Maidenhead.

She said: “I once had to get passers by to help going up Norwich Hill. And another time I was stranded overnight at Gallows Corner – it took a week to get from London to Braintree.”

In another twist, Mrs Roy was being rewarded for her work in the community (she organisers village fetes and community art programs) and had to get to Buckingham Palace on the same day as the auction to attend a royal garden party.

Auctioneers at Sworders moved the sale forward to an earlier time so she could see for herself as a phone bidder won a battle with a family of gypsies living nearby.