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Friday 23 November 2012

Romany’s vardo saved


Cheshire East Council has secured the future of a historical Gypsy caravan after its successful relocation to Bradford Industrial Museum.

The vardo (as the horse-drawn caravan is known) had deteriorated considerably after being subjected to the elements for 70 years in Wilmslow Memorial Gardens.

It was only during a recent restoration by the UK Vardo Project that the full extent of the damage became apparent – with as little as 75 per cent of the original vardo remaining.

In order to protect the vardo for future generations, it was clear that a safe indoor location was needed to protect the structure from both the weather and the threat of vandalism and theft.

Bradford Industrial Museum expressed an interest in using the vardo as part of an exhibition on Romany culture, which has strong roots in Yorkshire.

The museum has annual visitor numbers of 50,000 to 70,000 people.

After receiving the support of the Romany Society, the UK Vardo Project and the former owner’s family – along with the absence of suitable locations in Cheshire East – it was decided that this was the best course of action.

Councillor Rod Menlove, Cabinet member in charge of the environment, said: “This decision will provide the nationally-important vardo with the security and protection it deserves, meaning future generations can enjoy this piece of cultural heritage.  

“As soon as we were contacted by the museum in Bradford and heard of their plans it became clear that this was the best way forward.

“I also understand that the vardo was originally built in Yorkshire, so in a way it is nice to see it making a return journey to its spiritual home.”

Speaking personally, Chairman of the Romany Society, Les Horton said: “The main issue here is that we assure the survival of this priceless and unique vehicle and we feel that this is best achieved by its relocation to Yorkshire.

“After just undergoing a full restoration, at considerable cost to the Romany Society, it would be a shame to see the hard work undone as soon as the effects of the weather take their toll once again.”

The vardo originally belonged to the Reverend George Bramwell Evens. George only moved to Wilmslow four years before his death, having been a minister in Carlisle and then Huddersfield and Halifax. 

Upon his death, his wife Eunice gave the vardo to Wilmslow Urban District Council in 1944.

It has since passed to Cheshire East Council after various restructures in local government.

The Reverend’s grandson, Reverend Roly Bain, said: “We are fully supportive of the Council’s decision to move the caravan to Bradford.

“The vardo is something that was very important to my grandfather and I am confident he would support any move that ensures its future and lets as many people as possible enjoy it.”

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