Believed missing, the caravan became a focus for myth and rumour, but remained a legend none-the-less. At one stage it was even rumoured to have been lost at sea en route to John’s personal island, Dorinish, oﬀ the west coast of Ireland. Fortunately the caravan did not come to a watery end. However, the Sgt Peppers Caravan had been on an extraordinary journey by the time that it made its reappearance, some 45 years later.
As it happened the caravan had been hiding under tarpaulin, in the grounds of the former home of Ringo Starr, in Longcross Surrey, not so very far from the start of its journey.
Its new owner had been aware that the caravan had been owned by one of the Beatles, believing it to have perhaps been a film prop. He had always had it in mind to offer it to a charity to see if they were interested in renovating it for fund raising purposes.
“As it was in a very dilapidated condition there was a lot of work to be done, but he knew it could potentially be of some value if a suitable craftsman could do the rebuilding work required.” He asked his property agent to find a suitable home for it.
Renowned local fundraiser, Alan Carr MBE, received the unexpected call while on an epic John O’Groats to Lands’ End charity walk for prostate cancer.
Alan was over the moon. His all time favourite song was John Lennon’s Imagine, and this unexpected moment certainly invited him to do just that. Alan arranged for the caravan to be placed in safe storage. His walk ended with him coming home to begin his next journey; finding a restorer and home for the caravan.
The Delight Makers Foundation had just begun a fund raising venture to support the continuation of their children’s project, A Thousand Grandparents & Bedtime Stories. The fund raising initiative was called “Beautiful Things for Beautiful Causes” which entailed restoring old items to their former beauty to then auction or have as prizes in prize draws.
The first project was the restoration of a hand built vehicle, a Jaguar Mk2. The restoration of the car was done to exacting standards, with the car stripped down to the bare shell and every single part returned to its factory condition.
It was now 2013 when the Delight Makers and Mr Carr’s paths crossed. Samantha, from the Delight Makers, had requested a meeting with Alan seeking advice on fund raising and hoping that he would be able to help with the new Beautiful Things for Beautiful Causes initiative.
Alan arrived at the meeting having mistakenly thought that Samantha had called about the caravan. He made the assumption as he had been to the Delight Makers website and read the welcome page which spoke about John Lennon and Imagine. He opened the discussion explaining that he was struggling to find the right hands in which to place the caravan. He had been looking for a suitable home for it for over a year having met lots of interested, but not well motivated, parties wanting to own it. At first Samantha had no idea what caravan Alan was talking about, but oﬀered to bring her partner, an exceptional restorer, to come and see if they could help. As if by magic all of the threads began to weave together.
Alan had undertaken some research to confirm the authenticity of the caravan, but a detailed investigation was now needed. The caravan had only been reported on by the UK media on its debut. Pathe news reel and daily newspapers had covered the spectacle and the gossip, but from then on a lot of detective work was required. Even the information reported by Pathe and the newspapers was contradictory and needed verification.