Bailey of Bristol: The second half of 65 years of history

The Bailey Senator was in production from 1987 to 2010
The Bailey Senator was in production from 1987 to 2010

Friday, 14, Jun 2013 03:04

by Chris Jefferies

With 65 years now under their collective belt, Bailey of Bristol is the UK's longest-established caravan manufacturer.

To mark this achievement CaravanTimes has been looking back over the company's history, starting in Part One with the 1940s to the 1970s.

Now we pick up the story in the 1980s, where challenging economic times put many companies at risk.


With caravan brands collapsing left, right and centre, you would expect Bailey to be tightening their belts, but the reality was quite the opposite.

The 1980s saw Bailey expand its operations by acquiring new land, which lead to a tripling of the size of their South Liberty Lane headquarters.

What's more, the 80s also saw the birth of the company's most successful range, the Bailey Pageant, which was in continuous production for over 25 years.

And in 1987, the Pageant was joined by its upmarket sister range, the Bailey Senator, boasting blown air central heating and an integral cassette toilet as standard for the first time.

Meanwhile, the company continued to refine its production technology by adding sandwich construction bodyshell panels.


The 1990s was another decade of growth for Bailey, with further land acquisitions and increased sales, making it the number one caravan brand by the end of the century.

This was largely due to the launch of the compact, lightweight Bailey Ranger collection, which set a new standard for value for money, as models were available for under £10,000.

Other Bailey ranges to be unveiled in the 1990s included the Scorpio, while the company celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1998.


The turn of the century saw Bailey pushing its technology even further forward, with the factory becoming mechanised.

This big investment meant that caravans could slowly creep along the rolling production line as teams of workers fit the walls, roof and key fixtures.

As a result, Bailey was able to build more than 8,500 caravans per year, and this system remains in place to the present day.

The tail end of the decade saw the biggest leap forward, however, as 2009 was the year that the Bailey Pegasus was launched, and with it came the introduction of Alu-Tech construction.

This pioneering process uses an aluminium framework to replace much of the timber traditionally used in building a caravan, reducing weight and increasing the tourer's lifespan.

2010 to present day

As Bailey reaches its 65th birthday, Alu-Tech remains a key component, being rolled out in the company's first ever motorhome, the Bailey Approach SE, which was unveiled in 2011.

And in 2012 caravan parks up and down the country saw the arrival of the Bailey Retreat, an extra-large caravan designed specifically for use on seasonal pitches.

Beyond the UK, Bailey is now flying the flag for British caravanning in New Zealand and Australia, with Alu-Tech models exported in their droves.

The crowning glory of the past 65 years came in November 2012, when HM Queen Elizabeth II visited the Bailey factory and inspected a finished Bailey Unicorn caravan.

Bailey of Bristol has plenty more exciting plans for the future and to find out what they are first, make sure you keep checking back with CaravanTimes.

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