And so the story begins…
The first Bailey caravan, the Maestro, was built by Martin Bailey in 1947 and was subsequently sold at Ashton Gate market in South Bristol for the sum of £200.
A year later F G Bailey Ltd was formed and went into production initially manufacturing two caravans per week.
Seventy-five years later the company is still going strong making Bailey the longest established touring caravan company in the UK.
Post War Popularity
After the war, caravan popularity grew enormously with holidaymakers and as a form of temporary accommodation.
Bailey created a range of models to suit all circumstances, from the small tourers like the Minor and Maritza, to the Maison, an 18ft caravan designed as a quick solution to the post war housing shortage.
To keep up with the times, caravans began to feature two burner stoves, carpeting, and fully sprung upholstery to truly feel like home.
A growing reputation and a new home
Bailey’s reputation was growing and with it came demand to produce more caravans. This meant Bailey quickly outgrew its original site and the company eventually moved to its present address at South Liberty Lane in South Bristol.
At the time of this move the company was employing between 20 and 30 people and manufacturing approximately 100 caravans a year. A large proportion of the growth within this period came from lucrative overseas markets with as much as 40% of annual production being exported to mainland Europe.
A change of ownership and success at the races
In 1977 the company was purchased by Patrick and Stephen Howard. The company has remained in the Howard family ownership ever since.
By now the company had three model ranges: Prima (entry-level export caravans), M range (mid-market range still including the Mikado and Maru) plus the new luxury Clifton range featuring double glazed windows, fitted heaters and refrigerators plus a lightweight chassis as standard specification.
Prima caravans also achieved great notoriety as champion road racers during this period, still holding the lap record for all the major race circuits in the UK, based upon the superior towing dynamics for which Bailey is still renowned today.
The start of a 25 year production run
1982 saw the production of the first Bailey Pageant caravan, which went on to become the most successful range in the company’s history with over 25 years continuous production.
During this time, sandwich construction bodyshell panels were introduced to the manufacturing process along with other innovative techniques, which established Bailey as a brand with superior build quality.
In 1987 the Pageant’s sister range was born, the Senator. This range set the benchmark high, with blown air central heating and an integrated cassette toilet system as part of the standard package for the first time.
Expansion and investment
Undeterred by tougher economic conditions, Bailey expanded its operations, tripling the size of its existing South Liberty Lane site as well as investing in new state of the art digitally controlled production machinery.
Further land aquisition
The continued popularity of the market leading Pageant and Senator ranges also required further land acquisition at the South Liberty Lane site in the 1990s to increase production capacity once again.
The UK’s number one caravan brand
The launch of the well-specified yet highly affordable Bailey Ranger in 1996 propelled the company forward again and confirmed Bailey as the UK’s number one caravan brand. With all models available below £10,000, the Ranger set new standards in terms of value for money.
The introduction of Alu-Tech
In 2009 Bailey introduced their patented Alu-Tech construction system, which made their leisure vehicles more robust, more durable and yet lighter than those manufactured using conventional methods to offer owners greater protection against the elements to keep them comfortable, safe and secure all year round.
To date approaching 75,000 Bailey leisure vehicles have been built with this ground-breaking technology and are currently being used and enjoyed around the world.
Bailey’s first motorhome range
In 2011 Bailey’s eagerly awaited first motorhome, the Approach SE, was launched. Featuring an Alu-Tech bodyshell habitation box built on an AL-KO chassis and a Peugeot cab this new range featured the same award-winning design principles as the company’s caravans, not least of which was market-leading value for money.
This product diversification and the roll-out of the Alu-Tech construction system across the portfolio necessitated further site expansion during this period.
The additional land became home to a new state of the art Large Panel Manufacturing plant where the caravan and motorhome floors, ceilings and sides are produced.
A Royal Anniversary Visit
On Thursday 22nd November, Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and HRH The Late Duke of Edinburgh came visited us at South Liberty Lane to mark our 65th Anniversary.
The beginning for Bailey Big Adventures
2015 marked the first of the Bailey Big Adventures.
Travelling West to East across Australia in August 2015, this extreme challenge took the caravans through some of the most remote parts of Australia passing iconic Outback locations such as Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Alice Springs in the Northern Territory and Birdsville in Queensland.
They travelled over approximately 2,200 kilometres over a mixture of gravel, dirt and corrugated roads in the process.
The birth of PRIMA Leisure
With no further additional land available at South Liberty Lane to acquire to support future growth Bailey began to relocate elements of its business to other sites.
In 2016, Bailey Parts and Accessories moved from South Liberty Lane to its own dedicated premises, just off the M4/M5 Interchange in North Bristol.
A new site in Somerset
The Large Panel Laminating Plant was the next department to relocate to its own premises in Clevedon, North Somerset.
The new site, measuring 3,250+ sqm in size, accommodates four state of the art laminating lines, which can produce over 1,500 bodyshell panels in just one week.
Adventuring through the Arctic
2017 also saw the second Bailey Big Adventure,taking two caravans and one motorhome from the UK to the Arctic Circle in Finland.
Travelling through 12 countries in 16 days and crossing 5000 miles, this adventure set out to test the durability and endurance of Bailey caravans and motorhomes in extreme conditions going as low as -30 degrees.
Opening the new Replenishment Centre
The Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees, opened the new Replenishment Centre on the main South Liberty Lane site in October 2016.
The centre was built to house Bailey of Bristol materials and production equipment, with the aim to streamline the delivery process.
From Bristol to the Bosphorus
2018 saw the third Bailey Big Adventure – Bristanbul A 5000 mile intercontinental journey through 21 countries in 21 days from Bristol to the Bosphorus River in Istanbul, this adventure once again tested our caravans and motorhomes to the limits as they travelled across Europe and into Asia. taking in a changing landscape as they went.
Making the move to 8ft wide caravans
To cater for the growing demand for semi-static caravans sited on seasonal pitches Bailey introduced its first 8ft wide caravan in 2018, the Pegasus Grande range, providing owners up to 25% more living space for extended stays in their favourite holiday spot.
Collaborating with Ford
The company’s first motorhome collaboration with Ford took place in 2020 with the introduction of the all-new Bailey Adamo.
This continentally inspired range proved to be a big hit with both new and existing motorhome owners featuring a host of practical features such as flexi lounges, with convertible travel seats, electrically operated drop-down beds and sizeable garage storage spaces.
A trip cut short
In 2020 we set out on our fourth Bailey Big Adventure to reach the Sahara Desert.
Unfortunately the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic meant we had to turn back after we reached Sagres in South West Portugal.
It would be another three years before we could attempt this challenge again
The Caravan in the Sky
With COVID-19 restrictions still preventing international movement in 2021 we decided to travel vertically rather than horizontally.
The new Unicorn range was launched by lifting a model onto the roof of the One New Change Shopping in Central London.
‘The Caravan In The Sky’ was pitched in possibly the most exclusive pop-up campsite in the world, overlooking St Pauls Cathedral, to celebrate the boom in staycations and the growth in popularity of caravan holidays.
Safeguarding the natural environment
In 2022 Bailey made a formal commitment to reduce the environmental impact of its future operations to become a carbon neutral business.
New sustainability initiatives include supporting the Woodland Trust’s Woodland Tree-Planting Scheme to offset our annual published emissions, the installation of new solar panel and internal LED lighting systems plus switching to a 100% fully renewable energy supply across the company’s three sites.
Touring our supply network
With Post-Covid supply chain pressures very much in the news, Bailey embarked on a 2,000 mile tour in a Pegasus Grande caravan across the UK and Europe to discover how and where the components for our leisure vehicles are made.
In total we visited seven different suppliers to discuss the challenges they face in the current economic climate and to showcase the variety of individual parts needed to build a caravan or motorhome.
Arriving in the Sahara Desert
Three years after the first attempt Bailey finally made it to the Sahara in 2023.
Starting from Sagres in Portugal we crossed the Strait of Gibraltar into Africa and then drove South through Morocco, over the Atlas Mountains and to finally reach the Sahara Desert.
The caravans and motorhome performed admirably in some of the most demanding driving conditions we have experienced to date, proving once again that Bailey leisure vehicles are ready for any adventure.
The beginnings of panel van conversion at Bailey
The company also chose to In the company’s 75th anniversary year to introduce the Bailey Endeavour, its first panel van conversion.
Built on a Ford Transit platform this exciting new addition to the company’s motorhome line up allows owners to go off script in their search for adventure
Secretly real-life tested during the second Sahara Challenge the Endeavour proved to be every bit as robust and durable as the company’s existing leisure vehicle ranges.
After having safely negotiated the most challenging two-year period in the Company’s history, during the recent COVID pandemic, there are exciting times ahead at Bailey as it looks to expand into more leisure vehicle market sectors both home and abroad.
Incorporated into these plans are a series of new corporate responsibility goals and values which will also see the company taking further positive action to help safeguard the environment for the future.