About Our Living Van "Worlds End"

This is the latest exciting addition to The Hawthornes.  A chance to stay in a piece of history, without the hassle of putting up a tent!  "Worlds End" will appeal to the adventurous folk of you out there, who crave to stay alongside nature, listen to the owls hooting, the horses grazing and our lovely Cockerel, cock a doodling.

The sleeping arrangements are in 4 bunks ( the top two especially suitable for children), bedding is provided, but please bring along towels and anything else you would for camping.  We have two outside loos and a shower.  The cost is £50 per night.( Minimum of two nights stay)

"Worlds End" will only be available from Easter to the end of October and to book please call or email us, then we can discuss your individual requirements.

The History

Living vans were built by most traction engine builders to accompany engines, and provide accommodation for the engine crews, when they were working too far away from home to travel each morning and night.

Vans were available in different sizes, sleeping from two to six people.  The two berth size usually accompanied steam rollers, while the four berth, or 'contractors' size could accommodate four people, and the 'ploughing' size( which is ours) could accommodate five or six people.  Though very basic inside, they were home to many engine crews for anything from a few days to many months at a time.

This 'contractors' van was built by John Fowler and Co. LTD, Leeds of Hunslet rd, steam plough works, sometime between 1870, when they first started building living vans, and 1886,  "Worlds End" would have been sold as part of a set, consisting of two ploughing engines, a plough and a water cart.  Fowlers catalogue of 1874 states:  "This van is mounted on springs, with four wrought iron wheels, and is strong enough to carry five or six tons.  It has a large space for containing all necessary duplicate parts, and is fitted with a vice bench, etc, separate sleeping berths, and a stove for cooking.  It will be found to be a most useful appendage to a letting out set of tackle.  Price £95.

This vans early history is unknown until the late 1930's, when it accompanied an old single cylinder Fowler ploughing engine, which was engaged in timber extraction work in the Llangollen area of Wales.  During the war the van was purchased by the partnership of a Mr Birmingham and  a Mr Coates, who used it while carrying out charcoal burning, it was kept at Pentreduer Farm, near the village go Pentreduer.  After the war, the van was left with the farmer, in lieu of rent owed to him.  In 1951 Mr Tecwyn Roberts bought the van for £20, on behalf of the Forestry Commission.  Mr Roberts used the van as a mobile site office and it was based in various forests around the Llangollen and Corwen areas, including a forest known as " Worlds End' ( hence the vans name)  In mid 70's the van was sold again to Mr Dick Wooley, a dredging contractor who had two Fowler engines engaged on a contract on the nearby Rhug estate.  His two engines were works numbers 15194 and 15195, called Jane Hathaway and William Shakespeare, respectively.  These engines are now part of the collection at the Science Museum.  It then got sold on again and in 1989 it undertook extensive restoration work to bring it to its present condition, today.  On the 17/07/2017 it was purchased by the Appleby family, keen steam enthusiasts, and brought back to Yorkshire, its place of birth, and so the story continues..........

Renovation Progress

Our aim is to keep " Worlds End" as authentic as possible, by retaining as much of its original character as possible, but at the same time, making it a charming place to spend some well earned rest in the countryside.  We welcome you to join us, as we keep this beautiful timepiece alive and well.  Over the winter, she will be brought inside and checked over and some gentle restoration work done, keep watching for up to date details......