Now lockdown has eased, we’ve started to think about travelling and holidays at home.

But staycations are nothing new, and the old railway companies did all they could to encourage people to travel by train.

It was the London & North Eastern Railway which first introduced what they called 'railway caravans' in 1933, but the Great Western Railway (GWR) were quick to follow and in February 1934 announced that 20 four- and six-wheeled coaches would be adapted as 'camp coaches'.

The GWR’s first coaches were sited in Somerset, Devon, Cornwall and Wales and were available at a weekly rental. By April, 19 coaches had been brought into use.

Most had accommodation for six people but one coach was fitted with 10 berths.

Also in 1934, the London Midland & Scottish Railway introduced its more expensive 'caravan coaches' that conveniently had a corridor joining the living and sleeping accommodation (which the other companies' vehicles didn't have!).

From 1935, the GWR ran a holiday savings card scheme so that passengers could save up for their holiday tickets, and in 1936 this was extended to all GWR stations and allowed holidaymakers to pay for their camp coaches.

By 1937, 50 coaches were in use on the GWR and these were used by about 3,000 people that season.

The 1938 season had 60 coaches available, some of which were sited in the Severn Valley for the first time.

The starting rate for hire was ten shillings (50p) per week per person.

Camp coaches were withdrawn during World War 2 and were used for military purposes, as well as sleeping and messing accommodation for those engaged on railway guard duty.

They were returned to the western region starting from May 1952.

The weekly rental was then between £7 and £10 and the first coaches were installed at Blue Anchor, Dawlish Warren, Fowey, St Agnes, Marazion, Ferryside, Manorbier, Aberdovey, Abererch and Borth.

In 1962, Swindon Works converted six Pullman coaches which were sent to Marazion, a popular location in Cornwall, to serve as camping coaches.

One of our historic carriages at Didcot Railway Centre (No 416) survived by being converted by the GWR into camp coach No. 9940 in the 1930s – fitted with bunks and parked in a siding at a picturesque country station where it could be hired for a week or two’s holiday.

It has been fully restored and entered traffic in September 2009, and you can still enjoy the railway experience today.