This year marks the 100th birthday of the Eccles caravan, and to celebrate the centenary, Swift, the current owners of the brand, have expanded and redesigned the range for 2019.

The result is probably a far cry from the caravan that served as the backdrop for thousands of family holidays through the 1950s and 1960s, a tourer that was endorsed by celebrities at the time.

But in this issue, where we are also celebrating all things British, we thought it was only appropriate to look at how Eccles presents one of today’s most popular layouts – with a transverse island bed and end-washroom – in its 580 model.

The van was kindly loaned to us by Tamar Towing & Caravans, in Plymouth, and we naturally took it for a spin through one of England’s most popular holiday destinations, Cornwall.


Swift has indicated this season’s Eccles models are something special – in an understated way. There is a silver roundel on the front nearside corner, marking the centenary of production.

Apart from that addition, on the outside, the Eccles looks very much like any other Swift caravan. Similar to Challenger and Elegance, it now has a black front panel stretching below the three front windows, and two chrome-effect grab handles with LED marker lights.

The sides are decorated with dark, understated decals. You only notice the pattern is clearly inspired by the trim on a sports car when you get up close.

You do get a window on the door, and a proper door handle. The sunroof is a new design this season, but the side profile is definitely old-style Swift – not too curved, like the Sprites, but not too box-like, either.

Two more chrome-effect grab handles grace the back, along with fittings for a Thule bike rack. You also get alloy wheels, but really, Swift has saved most of the innovative design this season for the interior.


The Eccles 580 is fitted with a standard galvanised Al-Ko chassis, with a Euro Axle. It also has shock absorbers and an AKS 3004 stabiliser. But unlike some caravans at this price level, it doesn’t come with Al-Ko’s ATC trailer control system.

That said, it was a fairly easy tow and certainly looks the part, with its sweeping black front panel and alloy wheels.

A little problem we had, when our sat nav sent us along one of those narrow Cornish roads that prove to be impossible, made us thankful that this van and its contents had not been presented to us on a twin axle.

We had to unhitch and turn the caravan around, a relatively simple job for four of us, with a grab handle each. But on a twin-axle van, this would have been, well – nigh impossible.