The New Gypsies

I have seen photos from this book around the web for a while now.  A fair number of “hippie” Brits are living mobile, a difficult thing to do in the U.S.  Iain McKell has done a wonderful job of photo-documenting the unique, beautiful, sometime spartan accommodations used by these folks on the move.  If I get back to Britain I will try to track these people down.

I have to admit, I’m mainly in it for the wagons.  None of these look like high-speed movers, but who really needs that when it is home?

Most of these clearly appear to be restored (more or less) original horse-drawn wagons.  Bow Tops, Open Lots, a Showman or two, but others look to be a bit more home-grown.

A close examination of the photos show some interesting clues to life on the road.  I particularly like the “tip out” on the above wagon.  I suspect it is for sleeping more people but I can imagine an outside space protected like this for cooking or storage.  Hmmm, next project?

In my opinion, wagons like this are a great alternative for the modern nomad, as long as one can find a safe place to settle for the night or week or month.  As with the Romani gypsies, modern travelers, living outside the norm of the greater social group are likely always to face fear and suspicion from the mainstream culture.  Unfortunately, this will probably always be the way of the world.

I think there will always be some of us who are okay existing outside the “normal”, expected behaviors of our peers.  In a case such as this, or other fringe social groups (e.g., the Society of Primitive Technology) we can find kindred spirits who may understand our outlook in ways not found in more mainstream lifestyles.

Please have a look at the art of Iain McKell and be sure to scroll down the left side of links to see more of his photos, including some fine shots of traveler’s wagons.

13 thoughts on “The New Gypsies

  1. All groups in societiy have their fair share of antisocial behaviour. There is anti-social behaviour from groups of gypsies and “new Age Travellers”. But, and it’s a bit but, there is plenty of that coming from “settled” society members too. I only have to look back to the rioting last year in London, Manchester and other places to see it. . I think that people who prefer the travelling life are badly treated in this country. There have been traveller’s sites that have been razed to the ground, and even under the grounds, turning it into a wasteland recently. Evictions cost millions of pounds. Gypsies were thrown out. Mostly, settled people see travellers and gypsies as drop-outs who sponge off society and leave their mess behind. There is sadly little “live and let live” attitude over this. With a bit of give and take, there should be little problems living side by side, I can’t see happening anytime soon. To me though, this appears a more appealing way of life than being stuck in a vastly expensive square brick box!!

  2. Oh,and those pictures are beautiful. I think I’ll go and look for this book! I have seen some of those people and their wagons on the road, a while back in Devon, and they were horse drawn wagons. Surely, a much more environenmentally, less damaging and sustainable way of life.

  3. Think the main theme is “group”…. a lot safer, and more pleasurable to have a band of like-minded folk to travel with, at least for part of the way to….. somewhere…. will be the dream…. would like to do this in the warmer months anyways…. hit various events and gatherings….. seasonal resources…. yep, so goes the dream…..

      1. Yes sir. For added interests (complications?) sake, going further North this weekend for hopefully a couple good weeks of Muskrat trapping, and if prices and luck hold, this will form my base vardo building budget…. will let you know how it pans out. Oh, from a paleo tool perspective, Muskrat lower jaws make excellent little detail carving knives…. will be putting them aside, and hope to get some into your hands for experiments sake.

      2. This has a huge amount of appeal, especially for travel in the Southwest US in the winter. I would love to do it with a horse drawn vardo and a hay cart behind. But its a long trip to Texas from Michigan 😦 So will stay with what I am working on. I will have to get that book though. I have seen New Travelers mentioned for at least the past ten years. It caught my attention from wondering if there was any connection with Irish Travelers, but there doesn’t seem to be. Just modern day fellow travelers. I think that’s a good thing.

  4. This is awesome. Yeah people aren’t happy with those who differ from the norm. I’ve lived it my entire life. I’m a gay man, living on a sailboat that I’ve been restoring, built a mini vardo, former martial artist… and outspoken. We have to do what works for us, and to hell what other people think. It works for me.

  5. You the man George ! Great pics here, again, I hope to have mine on the road in Dec, and heading for West Texas and the neighbors to the west. See you on the road. I might have a couple bows that would be something different for you to try.

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