Now, the very first Berkeley Statesman to grace our shores sits in a quiet corner of York, the last of its kind. Originally owned by a builder who used it as a temporary accommodation for the families whose homes he was rebuilding, the caravan fell into the hands of a Mr and Mrs Armitage during the 70s, where the couple used the giant tin can as a Wendy House for their children.
Eventually falling into disrepair, this particular Berkeley Statesman was saved by the Historic Caravan Club back in 2001. But, within a few years, it was facing the frightening prospect of being turned into scrap metal. It was at this point in 2007 that Tim Mitchinson bought this piece of British social history for just £1, and began the mammoth 3-year task of restoring it to its former glory.
Staying as true to the original design as possible, Mitchinson transformed a rusting hunk of metal into a stylish and beautiful home. Fully furnished and kitted out with a modern toilet, the last surviving Berkeley Statesman is once again brimming with all the essentials you could possibly need to live out a happy life. After putting a sizeable amount of blood, sweat and tears into the restoration, Tim is now looking to sell his passion project to a suitable bidder.
So, aside from transporting British holidaymakers to the tropical shores of Butlins Skegness, what exactly could a new buyer use the Berkeley Statesman for? Well, with three beds and a modern toilet and shower, the Berkeley Statesman is perfect for providing guest accommodation. With its genuinely unique design and back story, it doesn’t take a shrewd business mind to see its clear potential as a exclusive bed & breakfast experience. Renting out the Berkeley Statesman to adventurous treat-seekers could be a smart source of additional revenue for someone who wants to preserve its history for that little bit longer.
Alternatively, it might just be the quintessential glamping accessory. Rock up to any campsite in Britain with the iconic caravan in tow and you’ll find yourself the envy of just about everyone around you. Gone are the days of roasting marshmallows from the shelter of your generic single-decker caravan, you can now sip piña coladas from the Berkeley Statesman’s in-built roof terrace and look like a King while doing it.
But could some be brave enough to make the Berkeley Statesman their permanent digs? And, if so, why would anyone in their right mind ditch the comfort of a traditional home for the quirks of a refurbished antique, especially with the bitter cold of Autumn and Winter just around the corner?
Well, although it might lack the powerful heating systems of your standard house, the significant reduction in floor space makes the Berkeley Statesman – and tiny homes in general – much more efficient at maintaining and distributing warmth. This also means that it will costs less energy to adequately heat the Berkeley Statesman in the first place, allowing you to reduce your environmental impact in the process. With vastly lower energy requirements than your standard British homestead, you can turn to renewable energy sources like solar or, more realistically, wind and rain to power and fuel your morning shower.
Some people may understandably feel sceptical about the prospect of taking up permanent residency in such a potentially claustrophobic setting, but the amazing thing about tiny homes is their power to de-clutter your life. By forcing you to be more sensible with the amount of belongings you own, and to be creative with the places you store them, tiny homes organise rather than cramp your lifestyle, which can have a remarkable impact on your mental well-being.
The Berkeley Statesman represents a wonderful snippet of post-war plucky British industry which deserves to be preserved. So, whether you’re looking for a unique workstation, a family caravan or somewhere to call home this coming winter, then make sure that it’s at least an option on your list. Sure, you might not rack up quite as many steps on your fitbit whilst living in it, but that’s a small sacrifice to make for a monument which has stood the test of time.