B A Rolfe & Sons

& Country Life Caravans

 

The history of B A Rolfe & Sons and

Country Life Caravans of Romsey from 1911.

Instagram Site
Information and most photos supplied by David Rolfe

 

View of the old Mile Hill Garage sales office and workshop which were built in 1926 to accommodate the increasing demand for motor cars and their servicing needs in Romsey. 4 new petrol pumps were also installed in 1926, being some of the first pumps in Hampshire and replacing Pratt's petrol sold in cans. This photo was taken c1932 but B A Rolfe and sons did not become a limited company until 1948.

 

The main Rolfes complex at the top of Winchester Hill Romsey c1960's

 

The main Rolfes garage at the top of Winchester Hill Romsey c1965

 

 

Pump attendant 1977

 

 

"So Long" was an early post war production model for Country Life Caravans built in 1946. It was the longest caravan made in the UK at the time and cost 1,500 new. The So Long was designed to also double as a semi permanent home with the housing shortage after the end of Second World War.

 

A page from an unused fuel ration book from late 1949. Different unit amounts are different colours to match the amount of petrol purchased.

 

The "Highwood" was produced from 1948 at a price of 598. More of an affordable model for Country Life Caravans and streamlined for aerodynamics.

 

The first streamlined towing caravan prototype produced in 1935. Called the "Romsey", manufacturing started the following year in 1936. This model was the forerunner of Country Life Caravans which became one the UK's largest caravan manufacturers in the post war period. Bertie Rolfe with his son Alec Rolfe testing the new model.

 

The very stylish "Languard 47" was manufactured from 1947 and cost 888 new. This early Languard with a curved front end is photographed in front of Bertie Rolfe's home Highwood House, Romsey (now a private school, Stroud School). Country Life Caravans were ramping up production with half a dozen new models in the post war period and this van was shown at the Chelsea Flower Show in 1948. Later models had flat front ends.

 

Inside the caravan factory in 1947. Making up the frame for a roof structure at Country Life Caravans in Romsey.

 

Inside the caravan factory in 1947. Jig Shop. Cutting out the metal panels at Country Life Caravans in Romsey. Over 10,000 caravans would be built between 1947 and 1959 at the Romsey factory.

 

Inside the caravan factory in 1947 at Country Life Caravans in Romsey.

 

Inside the caravan factory in 1947. Making up the wooden frame for a side wall of a Languard 48 in the Jig Shop at Country Life Caravans in Romsey

 

Important war work. Adding snorkel wading equipment to Sherman Tanks. To enable the tanks to drive on the seabed they had to be sealed to make them completely watertight including removing the gun turret to add a rubber seal. This was an alternative to floating tanks and the wading equipment could be quickly installed or removed. Sherman's arrived in Romsey from Southampton docks, were altered by Rolfe's of Romsey and sent off to the army for deployment in Europe. Wading tanks were used in the D-Day landings in 1944.

 

Filling station in 1944.A unique feature of the petrol station was a fishpond complete with goldfish!

 

The "Daydream" was another early post war caravan manufactured from 1947. The Country Life Caravans Daydream had a luxury interior and cost 695 new.

 

A 1906 Rover 6HP, one of the many classic cars owned by the company in the late 1930's.

 

1949 newspaper advert for the Languard 49 caravan courtesy of Kenneth Mayhew.

 

A c1937 Rolls Royce Phantom III owned by the company.

 

Another view of above car

 

First Country Life Caravan Co trade show in October 1948 at the company premises in Romsey.

 

Caravan production staff in 1946 at Country Life Caravans in Romsey.

 

The 1946-7 model year Cruis-Alon caravan from Country Life Caravan Company in Romsey. Cost 598 new in 1947.

 

The 26 foot "So Long" c1946 from Country Life Caravans in Romsey.

 

Country Life Caravans trademark from 1948.

 

Cars of sale c1946 outside Rolfe's of Romsey. Getting back to business after the end of the war.

 

A new Hillman Minx estate supplied to Lord Mountbatten in 1947 by Rolfe's of Romsey.

 

A Daydream caravan in Ireland in 1947 with Bertie Rolfe and Alec Rolfe. Country Life Caravan Company, Romsey.

 

Workshop greasing bay in 1947 before remodeling.

 

Allard car towing a Languard caravan outside the Country Life Caravan Co in Romsey in 1949.

 

Fire! One of the caravans being saved from the factory fire at the Country Life Caravan Co in Romsey in 1949. 

 

 This looks like the period after the fire with the construction of new buildings.

 

Health and safety 1949! A Languard caravan taking first prize in the Hastings Carnival. Country Life Caravan Co, Romsey.

 

26 members of the caravan production staff getting ready to climb on top of Languard caravan outside the Country Life Caravan Co in Romsey in 1949 to demonstrate the strength of the roof structure.

 

26 men from the caravan production staff all standing on top of Languard caravan outside the Country Life Caravan Co in Romsey in 1949 to demonstrate the strength of the roof and the build