DevonBrochuresBlog

The Devon company has been associated with Volkswagen since 1956 but they were not officially appointed as the British converters of type 2 vans until 1972. They originally operated from the “Alexandria” works in Sidmouth, Devon and later moved to Exeter until the original company closed in 1985. The name was sold and the Devon company now operates from much further north in Ferryhill, County Durham. It has been doing so as a family firm for almost 30 years.

The original company was started by Jack White, working in a garden shed in Sidmouth and traded as J P WHITE. Jack was a carpenter/builder with a passion for Volkswagens. He began producing the ‘caravette’ in earnest from his shed before moving into a former gasworks site at Sidmouth with it’s own railway sidings in 1960. At it’s peak it  employed 75 local tradesmen and was producing 1000 caravettes a year. Jack died in in 1963 from an heart attack whilst driving at his factory.

The company was sold on by Jacks wife to the Renwick, Wilton & Dobson Group who took on most of the staff and continued to trade under the J P White (Sidmouth) Ltd. name until June 1971 when it was renamed Devon Conversions Ltd.

By 1972 the company was the official VW converter for the UK and were selling 3,500 campervans per year. The company moved to Exeter in 1981 and finally went into voluntary liquidation in 1985. The sad end of a great era in British campervan history.

AlexandriaWorks_Sidmouth_Factory

There seems to be a lot of Devon brochures about however like the Westfalia company pictures of the factory seem to be scarce. below is a brochure with a few factory picture from mid to late 70’s.

devon_factory_scan

Quoted from an original Devon brochure…

Devon Motor Caravans

We’ve been manufacturing motor caravans for other twenty-one years at our Sidmouth-based factory. For all of that time, we have been officially approved converters on the Volkswagen – a tribute to the high quality of design and craftsmanship of our products.

The famous Devon Caravette was Britain’s Brand leader, well ahead of its rivals, since we have produced a succession of motor caravan conversions which have established our position as a leader in this market.

Our design department has developed new styles and contemporary fittings, keeping pace with requirements of the very substantial caravan and camping market.

Production Facilities

We have developed our production facilities to an extant that we are largely self sufficient. We mould and assemble our own Devon patent elevating roof. Our woodwork and metal shops are planned for flowline production and metal fittings and furnishings are made and finished to rigorous standards. We cut and fit windows, lay carpets and trim finish our products with a care which has been the hallmark of Devon from the very beginning.

Customer Conversions

In addition to the manufacture of new motor caravans, we are geared to handle the conversion of customers’ own vehicles, both new and used. For this particular demand we have introduced a new, less luxurious conversion which meets the need for a more basic motor caravan. We achieved this without inhibiting our standards of high quality, which are evident in all our products.

Exports

We have developed an increasing export trade to Europe and Devon motor caravans are selling well in France, Holland and Belgium. We plan to extend markets overseas where our products are competitive in price and quality, and we have created good working relations with the main distributors which augurs well for the future.

Marketing

In the UK we market Devon motor caravans through the authorised dealer network. For example, our conversions on Volkswagen are stocked and sold at your Local VW Dealer.”

Date posted: June 4, 2014 | Author:

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