Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Showmans' Wagon, Or, This Is The House That Jack Built.

This is my home. Self built. It is similar in design to the old showmens' wagons. The type of thing that would travel around on a lorry flatbed or railway wagon. I call it a wagon even though it has no wheels. But it is designed so that if it ever needed to be moved it could be winched onto a flatbed lorry.

About 80% of it was built using reclaimed timber, most of which I was given free or very cheaply. I had to buy the floor new and some of the superstructure timbers. The mollicroft windows were given to me by a friend who put new ones on her wagon. I was able to restore them. Getting them was a fantastic result.

It is 32 feet long by about 8 feet wide and, including the mollicroft about 8 feet high. The mollicroft is the raised part of the roof. It adds height, and the extra windows make the wagon nice and bright. Inside it has a bathroom, kitchen, living room and bedroom. More than sufficient space for my needs. There are two front doors, of the stable type. One opens into the kitchen, the other into the living room.

There was no planned design, no intricate drawings. Just a picture in my head of how I wanted it to look. It just grew from that. Organic is the word they use these days I believe.

It was there in my head for ages, and then one day I suddenly decided to go for it. Even though at the time I had no money to speak of. I just thought: 'Lets see what happens!. Maybe the Lord will provide?' Well sometimes you have to believe. It was amazing how the materials would turn up, once people knew about what I was doing.

There is still work to be done inside and out. I was advised not to move in until it was finished, because some of my friends thought if I did that I would neglect finishing it properly. I didn't take the advice. I moved in early.

They were right! I have been tardy in getting it finished. But on reflection I'm glad I didn't finish the work inside, because a design fault in the way I made the roof has shown there is a problem with leaks. Nothing serious, and I have worked out a way of sorting the problem. Imagine if I had done all the fancy decoration inside and had it ruined by water! Anyway that is my excuse. After lots of head scratching I finally discovered the problem was caused by capillary action, so I can sort it out.

The land it is built on is owned by me. I described in an earlier post how I came to buy it, and I am so glad I did buy it.

I think of this place as my haven away from the real world. A sanctuary. Not just for me but also for the wildlife that comes to visit. Even the pesky mole, who creates havoc with the paddock, and the cheeky magpies who raid the henhouse and steal eggs are safe here. The fox comes sometimes and kills hens, but he doesn't know he is doing wrong. The resulting carnage breaks my heart, and I curse his very bones, but the truth is, that in these instances it is usually my animal husbandry that is at fault.

It is odd this regard I have for wildlife. I think perhaps age has mellowed this old heart. I do dwell more on the sanctity of all life these days. I get deeply affected by animal cruelty. Here I go again, rambling away from the subject.

It's nice living here like this. It is certainly cosy, and I have lived in much smaller places. Of course I am close to Tricia and George and I am blessed with lovely neighbours. What more could a man want?

Hopefully it will be completely finished soon, and I will be able to offer proper hospitality to anyone who calls by.

I shall have a wagon warming party, with music and laughter! I hope you can come. 


  1. There's a certain romance about your home, John. I always wanted an unusual home, a caravan, a barge, an attic, you know what I mean? Never got it, though,

  2. Looks like this van belongs to an artist.
    Love the color.

  3. I LOVE IT. I have some Romany blood...this is right up my street/my cup of tea/floats my boat. It's beautiful.
    Jane x

  4. John, that's just awesome! I commend you for your hard work and dedication! When are you inviting us for a drink? :D

  5. It's a beautiful home John, so bright and cheerful on the outside, and all that lovely wildlife too. I noted your comments about the foxes. Coincidentally my post is about one such visitor this morning. I know they can cause so much havoc, but I love them dearly all the same.

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  7. Thank you for the story of your home. When I was younger my family built our home. It is a "normal" house and we did everything from the ground to completion. As a matter of fact I live only half an hour from where it still stands. Someone else lives there now. As for your housewarming, I have a lovely curio box that will be perfect for a gift. Let us know when and we will all be there.

  8. What a cool place to live. You have the most colorful, happy looking home. I say it suits your artistic nature

  9. I feel a little envious John. What a wonderful way to live. Lovely to see you're being yourself. Yesterday I was driving behind something similar (only a lot smaller). Homemade living on wheels. I grabbed my mobile to take a picture and it turned off. Sadly the picture didn't turn out. I thought of you as soon as I saw it. Sue

  10. Hi John, Thanks for the information on your home. Now after seeing the colorful and unusual exterior, the interior will be equally inviting I'm sure. Let us all know when that wagon warming event is set for!

  11. How could you not instantly become cheerful upon coming home everyday? I wish I had all the color to greet me. It's really beautiful. Finished or not, thanks for sharing your home.

  12. Your home sounds lovely! A wagon warming party - how exciting.

  13. What a little gypsy wagon! It suits you.