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  The history of the Portafold folding caravan  




The Portafold caravan was originally designed by Brian James, Ron Nugent and approximately four others for their company Portaplas Ltd based at Emsworth, Hants. Portaplas was set up specifically to manufacture the Portafold after the company producing a smaller two berth folding caravan, called the Mini-Motel, decided they didn't want to meet the demand for a larger berth caravan by designing and producing a new four berth version. Brian then, together with Eddie Elliott, set up the company Henleycraft Ltd to handle the sales and marketing of the newly designed caravan which they advertised at shows such as the Ideal Home Exhibition and the Caravan & Camping Exhibition. In 1970 ship builders Cammell Laird approached Henleycraft to produce two prototype London Taxi cabs. These prototype taxis were the fore-runners to the now familiar 'Metro Cab'. The prototypes are still in existence today travelling around the country to various classic car shows. Since then Henleycraft has worked with companies such as Ford Motor Company, Avon, Land Rover and the Ministry of Defence. Henleycraft Ltd is currently run by Brian's two sons and is still producing GRP components to this day.

Henleycraft exhibiting the new Portafold caravan at the Ideal Home Exhibition

Henleycraft exhibiting the new Portafold at the Ideal Home Exhibition


The caravan was later built under licence by Plastics (Fareham) Ltd at The Yard, Broadcut, Fareham, Hampshire.  The two owners, Conrad Faulkner and Lionel Abbs, started working together restoring old buses and army trucks before moving into the glass fibre business.  Plastics Ltd produced all manor of glass fibre products but they specialised in making fishponds, boats and boat parts. Conrad continued to run his business 'Faulkner's Transport Ltd' and left the running of Plastics Ltd to Lionel, May Snell and the sales manager Mike O'Neill.

Conrad Faulkner's Vauxhall Cresta PA towing a Portafold

Conrad Faulkner's purple and grey Vauxhall Cresta appears in nearly all the Portafold publicity material


Following the death of Conrad in around 1971, a new company called ANS Mouldings Ltd was set up by Lionel and May. Although Lionel wasn't listed as a director of the company May's husband Brian Snell and their son, also called Brian, were. The name ANS Mouldings Ltd came simply from the names of the owners, Abbs ‘n’ Snell. The new company shared the same building that Plastics Ltd were in but ANS occupied the loft space whilst Plastics Ltd remained downstairs. The building they shared was used from the early 1900’s as the local tannery and currently houses two companies called Airport Bodyshop and Precision Engineering. ANS Mouldings took on the manufacturing of the roof and the sides of the Portafold, but not before they had restyled them to a look more conducive of the late 1960’s. Although Plastics Ltd continued to manufacture the base of the caravan and handle all of the assembly, the name was changed to Ansfold to coincide with the design change. Production of the Ansfold ended in the late 1970’s due to market saturation and the increased competition of other folding caravan manufacturers, such as Rapide, from mainland Europe.


The Caravan magazine from July 1952

The Caravan - July 1952

The Fairholme Wanderer - Is this where the idea for the Mini-Motel and the Portafold came from?


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