75 years at the top: the Bailey of Bristol story

When Martin Bailey built a caravan in his garage in the English city of Bristol back in 1947, he probably didn’t think the £200 he made from selling it at Ashton Gate market would lead to much more than that. A year later however, and F G Bailey Ltd was founded and a caravan dynasty was born. In the 75 years since those events, Bailey of Bristiol has grown to become one of the UK’s leading caravan and motorhome manufacturers – approximately one in three new caravan sales are a Bailey in the country. It has also expanded internationally with markets as far afield as New Zealand and South Korea. So, on the eve of this prestigious milestone, how did it get here?

After rapid growth in the 1950s, the company outgrew its original site and moved to its current address at South Liberty Lane in Bristol in 1960. By 1977, the company was purchased by Patrick and Stephen Howard and became known as Bailey Caravans Ltd ­– it has remained under ownership of the Howard family since then. Naturally, a company of such long standing has created a few industry innovations along the way – perhaps the most notable being its Alu-Tech body shell construction, first launched in 2010. This fully patented technology that allows leisure vehicles to be more robust, durable, and lighter, has been on 75,000 Bailey leisure vehicles since its inception.

A company of some 500 people, Bailey now manufactures 6,000 touring caravans and coach built motorhomes per year, with an annual turnover of more than £130 million. One of the keys to this longevity has been the fact that staff who work for the company stay on average for 10 years. Bailey is a Real Living Wage Employer and has always placed a focus on developing and progressing its staff ­– a method that sees it attract and retain talented staff.

Bailey managing director, Nick Howard, said: “We are tremendously proud to be the UK’s longest established leisure vehicle manufacturer and would like to thank everybody in the extended ‘Bailey Family,’ which includes our customers, retailers, supplier partners and of course our employees, for the part they have played in making us the Nation’s Favourite leisure vehicle brand.”

The company safely navigated the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and is now looking towards a bright future that only sees it remain one of the leading choices for campers and caravanners but also sees it embark on new corporate responsibility goals such as its on-going support for the Woodland Trust’s Woodland Carbon scheme, to help safeguard the environment for the future.

All photos © Bailey of Bristol