Builder Mr.'Baz' Warters. Baz had previously been a director at Buccaneer who were owned by Goodalls Caravans. The first Buccaneer was built in 1976. Goodalls bought a Vickers trailer to 'copy' for ideas. The first Buccaneer built was a 22' single axle trailer purchased by Mr Jim Walsh. In 1980 Baz left Buccaneer and set up a new company called NuVardo with a partner, these vans were the precursor to Roma. Early Roma trailers are hardly distinguishable in shape. The partnership ended in 1983 and Baz started Roma. The first three trailers built were sold to John Sambrook who sold them on. From the very start the company was a success, the early vans were still in the 'flash' style of the day, metal frame windows, 'chrome' detailing etc. These early trailers were aimed at the 'new' market, smaller and, by comparison to the big old trailers, lighter in weight.
Travellers very quickly ordered 'direct' and as always, the depth of pocket dictated the ultimate finish. Some exquisite vans were produced. The 1970's had been the era of 'ultra flash' for those who could afford it and the 80's saw a revival, albeit on a slightly smaller scale. 19' trailers were common but 20' and 21' vans were built as well. Some were built entirely of stainless steel, with cut windows and superb heavily mirrored interiors. Ceilings were adorned with elaborate light fittings, from the continent, often in clusters of three or even four, three sets to a trailer! Practically every surface was adorned with cut mirrors and 'chrome' strips covered ceiling joints. The furniture which was lighter coloured formica than in the old trailers, was high gloss, and was decorated with multiple handles and escutchions, often 'chrome' edged. Cupboards were made to look like drawers. 'kick plates' to the bunks were 'chrome' and beaded, there were even mirrored ones! Etched glass 'screens' divided the kitchen end, some arching right across to meet. Etched glass fronted display cabinets were mirror backed and top lit. Of course all of this came at a cost, 'extras' alone could double the cost of a trailer. The last all steel Roma was built for Jimmy Connors in August 1986, trailer no. 85. it was 20' and with a blue interior. After 'chrome' the trend was for multiple bands of polished aluminium profile with coloured trim and between, transfer stripes of varying colours, blue and dark green are the most 'common' but there were other colours as can be seen in some of the following photo's. Windows too became plastic double glazed. Baz used the 'Queen' stove mainly, but a few Romas had the 'courtier' type used in Vickers, Westmorlands and Jubilees.
These stoves, with the sides that opened were also known as 'rock & roll' stoves!! Both of these stoves were made by Smith & Welstood at Bonnybridge in Scotland but they were supplied to Roma by Mr Ron Lee. The elaborate ceiling lights were made in Italy and France and obtained through 'Collins' in Bethnal Green, London. The cut mirrors, glass cabinet doors, screens and windows were supplied by 'Kestrel Glass' near Bradford. Mr Frank Brown created the original designs and after his retirement Peter and Mark continued the work, and are still able to produce mirrors or glass for a Roma (or any trailer!!....address and number on the links page).
By the late 1980's the vans were going through a transition stage, some clients still ordered ornate 'traditional' types while others were asking for more modern versions, 'drop windows' and end bedrooms were introduced. Solid fuel stoves gave way to gas heaters, and gradually the trailers became plainer and less ornate. Glass fronted cabinets became solid doors and formica was often white. Some trailers from this era can look very cold and sterile. Exteriors were very plain, wheel arches became 'simpler' and the whole trailer looked less 'Travellery'. As time progressed the demand for larger vans began and so longer trailers were once again 'in vogue'. The later Romas are superb luxury homes in the modern sense. End bedrooms, blow air heating, TV and HiFi cabinets etc. fitted hobs, fridges and freezers. Some later vans had double 'fench doors' and 'sofas' and armchairs. Many Travellers are lucky enough to own and live in them . Over the years Roma built over 3000 trailers including 10 miniature 'childrens trailers' these sold for £5/6000 !!! as well as free standing furniture and 'matching' steps for outside. Thankfully there are still good Romas about, although the older 'flash' type are becoming harder to find, when their 'style' went 'out of fashion' many ended their days in the hands of people who did not appreciate them and like so many of the old style 'flash' trailers have been lost or ruined beyond repair. Largely due to the trend of Travellers to buy cheaper and lighter foreign caravans business slowed down and sadly Baz decided to retire in 2004 and Roma Caravans closed down.
It was the end of an era, the last UK company building for Travellers....................................
Baz with a miniature trailer
ROMANY GYPSY TRAILERS
early Roma with the first body shape. Fixed front/rear window
late 80's. Revised body shape, double glazed, no stainless steel
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Final year 2004 trailer with split drop windows