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T-Line Story Logo
David Thomson

For some time I have had the thought of producing a booklet like this, for I think we have a story to tell. Like many large companies we began in a small way, and in Thomson's we are proud of our humble beginnings.

My father was only 24 when he set up business not far from Carron, near Falkirk in 1908. When he died in 1963, the country joiner's shop had grown into a considerable industrial plant and since then it has trebled in size.

Though now a public company-and happy that many of our shareholders ore also T-Line caravan owners-we are still in many ways a family concern. One or two of our staff worked with my father in the early days, others are second and third generation Thomson people.

The British caravan industry is concentrated mainly along the eastern seaboard of England . We are the only one of our kind in Scotland , something of an outpost. But we do not feel isolated, for our products are just as well-known south of the Border and in many foreign ports.

Manufacturing caravans is rather different from making many other things. They are not just production units. Whenever I see a T-Line family heading for coast or country, I share their joy in a carefree holiday. It makes my business a great pleasure.

Chairman, Thomson T-Line Caravans Ltd

Celebration of the 2000th Thomson Manufactured

THE T-LINE threads its way back to 1908, when Daniel Ferguson Thomson set up shop as a country joiner and Cartwright in a small hut at the back of Skaithmuir Mill, only a short walk from the present head­quarters of the Thomson Group at Carron.
On the other side of the mill was an old smiddy, and Daniel did every­thing from work on the farms to boarding round the kitchen sink, from making coffins to repairing round­abouts and helter-skelters.
It was meeting the fairground folk that drew him into the caravan business, first repairing them, then making them. These living vans were massive, elaborate affairs, solidly built of timber with lantern roof and end door. One is said to have carried a piano.
Sandy Miller, who joined Daniel Thomson in 1914, recalls, "They had half-inch mahogany panels, all hand-dressed, lots of carving and other decoration. With four or five of us helping the boss, it took three months to make a showman's caravan." Their only resemblance to a modern trailer was that they moved around on wheels-behind horses buckling at the knees. But there was light relief in the making of genuine gipsy wagons with hooped canvas roofs, used by the commercial travellers of the day, known less glamorously as hawkers.
Just after the 1914-18 war Daniel Thomson was making Model "T" Ford van bodies for local grocers and butchers, and he designed caravan bodies to mount on lorry chassis.
These early motor caravans were great hulking affairs that lumbered along at ten miles an hour and frequently broke down. Like the horse-drawn trailer, they died out about the mid twenties to reappear 30 years later.
Some early caravans had wooden chassis, until Daniel Thomson devised his own in steel, buying lengths of angle iron which he bolted together in "Y" form. To the chassis he fitted eliptic springs and the front axle and wheels of a car.
The tow hitch was pin and eye, the Brockhouse ball-and-socket coupling did not come until 1932, and as Sandy Miller recalls: "They used to rattle something terrible, until Mr. Thomson fitted a strip of leather to keep them from chattering."

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Reproduced from a 1970 publication by Thomson T-Line Caravans Ltd called The "T-Line Story"
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