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An Article from "The Advertiser" dated January 1960 transcribed by Sally Crane

Burton Caravanners Hit by Council

The Caravan site at Park Road, 1960
Caravan Site at Park Road, Burton Latimer in 1960

If you live in a caravan at Burton Latimer you do not stand a chance of getting a council house.  That, say caravan dwellers in the town, is the curt answer the urban council gives to applicants. And the caravan people, as you may well expect, have little love for a council which looks down upon their way of life on the one hand and refuses to help them better it on the other.

Feelings about the council are stronger now because the caravan people who live in Park Road seem likely to lose the ground beneath their wheels.  The council agreed reluctantly to an alternative site off Station Road, but the County Planning Committee has turned it down. The conclusion is patent: the occupants of 17 caravans in Park Road face the New Year with uncertainty about where they are going to live in the near future.

Miss Alice Clayton at her caravan home,
collecting the morning milk
An investigation by an “Advertiser” reporter revealed that, with very few exceptions, people do not live in caravans of choice.  Most would move into a council house or flat tomorrow if they were offered one. When Miss Alice Clayton’s parents died eight years ago the house they lived in at Rushden was too big for one person; a small country cottage could not be found, and a caravan proved the best alternative in the circumstances. Miss Clayton is happy in her caravan in Park Road .  It has a well laid path and a paved area.  A hundred bulbs have been put in the ground to make the garden look nice. Miss Clayton would be perfectly happy to remain there, but the future looks unsettled.

“I think it is absolutely mean of the county planning committee to refuse us the other site” she said. “We were quite content to move there.  I imagine the county councillors have large homes with spacious grounds and they begrudge us a little piece of land to stand on, for which we pay a very good rent. People don’t live in caravans because they want to – at least most don’t – but because they can’t get a house or can’t afford one.  I wouldn’t mind a small flat myself. But when I went to the council they told me that caravan residents are not considered.  I received a curt letter from them”.

Until a few months ago, Mr. and Mrs. John Bird were happy enough and quite satisfied with caravan life.  But now they have twins – Beverley and Steve – and the uncertainty of the future is worrying them. They have been in their caravan for two years.  It was infinitely better than the furnished rooms they had at Kettering.

“Now we would take a house if we were offered one because we have to think about the children’s future”, they said. “We do think it unfair that we are not eligible for a council house.  One of the problems now, apart from the confined space, is washing and drying clothes”. added Mrs. Bird.

At the other side of town off Cranford Road, 24 year old Mr. Thomas Fisher, stood in the doorway of his week old 22ft Sprite and said: “We resent being looked upon as gipsies”. Mr. and Mrs. Fisher were married in May.  Faced with the prospect of living in rooms or with in-laws, they decided upon a caravan and until last week lived in an 18 footer.  They are emphatic that a caravan is definitely second choice as a home. But, like the Park Road dwellers, they have been told that they stand no chance of getting a council house. “What annoys me is that my wife has lived in Burton Latimer all her life and works here.  We can’t have a council house, but we know people who have come here from other towns and got them” said Mr. Fisher.

The Fishers are luckier than the Park Road caravanners.  The small site on which they and four other families live in caravans have no threat hanging over it.  But they are just as resentful about the policy which prohibits them from having a council house because they prefer the independence of life on wheels to that in furnished rooms.

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