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Homepage. This page: A surviving small trailer produced by Eccles Motor Caravans Ltd in the 1920s.

Eccles trailer from the 1920s.

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A day trip to Dartford early in 2020 resulted in this rare 1920s/1930s Eccles trailer being rescued from imminent scrapping, due to its former keeper downsizing his property. He bought it in the 1970s and used it for family holidays and tip runs. Fortunately, he recognised that it's quite an unusual old trailer and looked after it well, even to the extent of varnishing over the original Eccles of Birmingham transfer on the offside flat panel (I think they were only ever applied to the offside) to help preserve it. He fitted a modern (for the 1970s..) wooden rear light board, but didn't drill any extra holes, and hung onto the old single bracket that would have once housed a Rubbolite lamp. Also fitted since the 1970s is a damper on the tow-hitch, but that could easily be removed.
As a result, it has survived in generally good condition. Much of the original grey paint is still in evidence, along with the transfer, and the wooden sides have lasted well. Only the wooden floorboards would need changing before it could be used as intended. As for towing, it towed back the 200 miles or so without an issue on its original 3.50x19 AVON Triple Duty Sidecar tyres, with my modern light board strapped to the back, so it passed that test with flying colours.
1920s Eccles trailer
The originality of this trailer is what appealed to me so much. The wheels still have their "ECCLES CARAVAN B'HAM" aluminium centre caps, and the mudguards - so often bashed up on an ancient trailer - are the originals. The chassis number is stamped into the Eccles-patent tow-hitch, and also onto a small aluminium tag tacked onto the rear panel, close to where the supplying emporium's own label is affixed. The trailer was sold new by Kent & Son (Engineers) of Wantage, Oxfordshire (then part of Berkshire). A search online brought up a photograph of their ironmonger's shop in the early 20th Century.
Eccles sign
Eccles patent tow-hitch
Trailer's wheel centre cap
Supplier Kent & Son of Wantage
Shown below are the later, 1970s, rear lamps, which could easily be replaced (I think I have a correct Rubbolite lamp hanging up in the garage somewhere). Even the tailgate's hinges are a treat to look at, for a trailer enthusiast at any rate... The triangular reflector will definitely have to go.
Rear lights

Original brochure.

It was only when I arrived in Dartford that I found out that the trailer came with an original brochure from 1929, a definite bonus. The former keeper had contacted Eccles caravans in 1979, asking whether they had any information about their early trailers. In the post arrived the following original publication, dated October 1929. In it, the exact same trailer - along with several others - is illustrated. The cover shows a trailer being towed by a flat-rad Morris Cowley two-seater. It's described as an "ECCLES No.2 Light Luggage Trailer", designed to carry a payload of up to 4cwt. It also refers to a green rot-proof cover. Sadly that is no longer present on my example, although I do have the slot-in steel hoop frames.
Eccles brochure cover
Page two features the trailer I found, described as the "Standard size No.4 Eccles Luggage Trailer", designed to carry up to 6cwt in weight, and fitted with brakes and the "Eccles" perfected all-in-one Tow-pole box (hitch). The photo clearly shows the distinctive style of original mudguards fitted to these trailers, which survive on the one found in Dartford. Alongside is an illustration of the 8cwt version, on solid rather than spoked wheels.
Eccles brochure page 2
The third page in this leaflet describes a version with a removable top, and the general Utility Trailer with its taller sides. The reader is advised that "Eccles do not expect to make all the motor trailers, but they do make the best".
Eccles brochure page 3
On the final page are several of Eccles Motor Caravans Ltd's other products. One is the "substantially built" Commercial Trailer, for "commercial gentlemen for carrying samples". To the side are illustrations of their boat trailers, one light, one much heavier. The low-set enclosed trailer in illustration "H" is their Hound Trailer - I wonder if any survive?
Eccles brochure page 4
To restore the trailer I collected, I'll need to source a correct Rubbolite rear lamp (I may have one), and ideally replace the floorboards. An old tin trailer "T" plate would look the part on the back, and maybe the fabric cover should be re-instated. It was a 400-mile round trip to save this one, but being literally days away from being broken up (the skip was already in the driveway) it had to be done.
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