Caravanette, ~1930 (Triang)

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Caravanette, ~1930 (Triang)

BTMM map 072.gif

Arch Two , Area 72
Arch Two, Overhead


A white wooden doll's Caravanette with electric interior lighting, made by Tri-ang in around 1930.

The caravanette has a black metal chassis, red metal wheels and bonnet (with a printed silver-coloured radiator with the triangular Tri-Ang/Lines Brothers logo), and white wooden superstructure. A metal sleeve to hold a low-profile "flat" torch battery is fixed to the chassis underside, with a protruding side switch to operate the electric light fitted to the living-quarters ceiling.

A mobile dollhouse

The toy has internal furnishings, and can be considered as a cross between a "vehicle" toy and a dollhouse, making use of dollhouse scale furnishings and windows.

Triang's early vehicles in the late 1920s were described as "Doll's Motor Vans", with the open cab design common to real 1920s commercial vehicles creating an easily accessible driver's space that was perfect place for a child to put a doll or small teddybear.


This is a lovely (and pretty rare) example of an early wooden Tri-ang vehicle, with the classic Triang 1920s-style engine bonnet and curved open cab common to some of the better-known early Triang road vehicles such as buses and lorries, but with a range of "extras":

The sides of the caravan have opening windows (apparently the same window parts used in some of their dollhouses), and the back of the vehicle has two opening windowed doors, and a fold-out set of steps than hinge out when the doors are open. There is a chimney on the roof, and the interior has a bed, a window table, a chest of drawers and a stove, and electric lighting.

Historical significance

This level of "dollhouse" play in early wheeled toys became more difficult to achieve in the later 1930s, as real road-vehicle design evolved to incorporate enclosed cabs. This made it less practical to have a "doll" driver, and rather destroyed the concept of the "Doll's Lorry" or "Doll's Van".

The existence of these early toy commercial vehicles with doll-friendly open cabs may have helped to encourage girls in the 1930s to imagine themselves as drivers, and may have helped to erode the idea that anything to do with motors was necessarily a male domain.


As of January 2016 the caravanette model is under restoration, and should appear on display later in the year.

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