Peter BaberSee other caravan reviews written by Peter Baber
To mark the forthcoming centenary of this pioneering caravan brand, Swift have given the Eccles a radical new appearance both outside and in.
The Eccles brand is 100 years old next year. The Riley family, who pioneered the idea of caravans that you could tow behind an automobile, created its first Eccles caravan in 1919.
By the 1930s, Eccles was the biggest-selling range in Britain, and exported all over the world, partly thanks to celebrity endorsement by 'our' Gracie Fields. The Rochdale lass no doubt saw its attractiveness, even if it was named after a different part of Lancashire!
The Swift Group, which has owned the brand since the 1990s, is honouring the centenary this year by redesigning the range as an anniversary edition.
The company has also added three new layouts. Two are twin-axles, but at the other end, the 480 is part of the trend to offer two berths with slightly more room to move about in, and in this case, an end washroom.
Pitching and setting up
Decals down the side this year are in black and brown to match the interior colour scheme. There is a nod to the centenary in the shape of a rather attractive silver roundel by the front nearside window. No bling here.
Overhead locker and cupboard doors, and the central chest, are finished in a teak-like woodgrain known as 'Zebrano'. The gold and black upholstery on the parallel settees, known as 'Saturn', is complemented by shimmery black 'Mars' scatter cushions. Such an interior will be an acquired taste, but this reviewer rather liked its sophistication.
Once you have taken all that in, you'll find a small lit mirror by the door, a shelf for your keys and, above the door, the caravan's control panel.
Even with such a dark colour scheme, you won't be lacking light in the front lounge. The three big windows, sunroof and large Heki let in all the light you need, while there are four spotlights, two LEDs in the sunroof housing (along with two speakers), and ambient lighting behind the lockers.
The central chest has a pull-out shelf that should be fine if there are just the two of you.
The two settees could seat six, and if you are entertaining more, you will need to make use of the foldaway table. It is light, but stowed in the rear washroom; we found it a bit of a struggle to get it out of its slot.
The sideboard at the end of the settees is a luxury you can have in a slightly longer two-berth like this one. With a large clear top, and TV and mains sockets nearby, it provides a perfect place for a TV.
There are two doors below. On one side, there are two shelves, with the lower partly taken up by the wheel arch, and two sliding baskets on the other side. There is what appears to be a pan locker under the Thetford oven and grill, but it is mostly wheel arch. Two overhead cupboards here include a crockery and mug rack.
There is a slimline fridge, with a locker above that only tall people will find easy to reach.
If there are just two of you, you could probably store all your clothes for the trip in here. Both wardrobe and basin have two LEDs, and the opaque window lets in the daylight, too.
Perhaps the only hurdle is the entrance to the shower, which is on the narrow side. It doesn't have any rooflight, but you do get an Ecocamel showerhead.
The additional space means you also get that sideboard. This includes two cupboards of different sizes. The larger one on the right holds a drawer plus a second shelf, which is partly obscured by the wheel arch. The smaller left-hand cupboard is completely clear.
Part of the sideboard also forms a convenient cupboard right by the entrance door, which is just about big enough for storing walking boots.
The central chest of drawers at the front is a new design, with just one drawer, that holds a second drawer hidden inside it. This makes it easier to operate.
And even if you do manage to exhaust all of the space in the wardrobe, there are six overhead lockers in the lounge area and two small corner lockers at the front as well.
The 480 is a worthy addition to the Eccles line-up in its centenary year. The interior might not be to everyone's taste, but it feels warm and sophisticated. There's bags of storage space in here, too, in addition to that important extra little bit of living room.
- Great storage
- Good lighting
- Shower cubicle is a bit dingy