The Vardo

Romany and Raq on the steps of the Vardo - from the dust-jacket of A Romany on the Trail

Romany and Raq on the steps of the Vardo – from the dust-jacket of A Romany on the Trail

Romany’s Vardo, or Gipsy Caravan, was a key feature of his books and broadcasts. After his death it stood in his memorial garden in Wilmslow until 2012, when it was removed for renovation work. Following a debate about its future care it has now (2013 onwards) been relocated to the Bradford industrial Museum.

In its Wilmlsow location the vardo was a focus for Society events, with members hosting open days one Saturday a month during the summer. That opportunity has now gone, but members will be visiting the vardo in its new home during the 2014 Romany Weekend (see events page for details).

Below are some archive pictures of the vardo and contents whilst at Wilmslow, accompanied by Romany’s own words describing the vardo:

The Vardo when in the memorial garden in Wilsmlow

The Vardo when in the memorial garden in Wilsmlow

My caravan has a history. It has rumbled along roads and lanes and heard the chatter of the Romanies as the light of the campfire lit up their swarthy faces. I am reminded of them by the big box attached to the rear. This big receptacle was most useful when passing turnip or potato fields – not to put too many in at once, that was not necessary, for there were plenty of other fields to be passed, and the box would still be there!

Another view of the vardo at Wilmslow

Another view of the vardo at Wilmslow

That hook on the axle is where Boz, the lurcher, was tethered, and under which, when any strangers were about, he used to lie meek as a lamb. In their presence he cultivated a slight limp and had the knack of looking prematurely old. But as soon as their backs were turned a rejuvenated Phoenix would have looked antiquated beside him, especially as he sleuthed it up the hedgeside.

The hook is still behind the van, but the lurcher that never barked, and never knew when he was beaten, is now in other happy hunting grounds, RIP.

Interior of the vardo

Interior of the vardo

I do not remember a time when the countryside had no fascination for me. Give me a lane and a hedge, and heaven lies in exploring its shadows and becoming intimate with its shy inhabitants. Probably this is due to the fact that I spring from pure Gipsy stock. In my veins runs the blood of nomads who have sought the solitudes for hundreds of centuries. It is this ancestry which has made me a roamer, and like a bird hearing its migratory call, so the fields and the woods lure me from city life.

The Whitsuntide sunshine lured me to leave the town, and it was with joy that I opened my caravan door. Raq was delighted, too, for the sight of it spelt more freedom and many a chase in the green fields.

As usual I examined every inch and cranny to see what visitors I had.

Romany's coat and bag, hanging in the vardo

Romany’s coat and bag, hanging in the vardo

A robin had taken possession of the undercarriage and has a lusty family still to rear. I found Raq sitting on his haunches eyeing them with wondering eyes. He never offered even to sniff them, so the cock-bird soon began to look on him as a friend. The mother-bird was not so trustful, but I think she knows now that no danger threatens her. I believe they are glad to have a nest near to human beings for there are always scraps from the table available for the youngsters. The cock now comes into the vardo and eyes me boldly as I lie in bed. I do wish, however, that he would train his youngsters not to start asking for their breakfast at 4 a.m.

For information about the Vardo Restoration have a look at the News page all about it.

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