If you’re stuck behind a horsebox on a narrow country lane then they probably annoy you – along with caravans, tractors, cyclists and steam engines on their way to another retro vintage fair – and that’s (sort of) fair enough.
Although we couldn’t possibly hope to change your mind about driving slowly when you need to be somewhere, we have to share with you our love and admiration for the most unnoticed, yet, brilliantly hilarious British pastime – coming up with a new use for a horsebox.
Horses used to be the livelihood of businesses, so their owners always tried to take better care of them. These lovely animals used to be transported around on trains and then, in WW1, they devised special horse ambulances to ferry the injured creatures back from battle to save as many as possible as quickly as possible.
After the war, these designs were developed and improved and over the years we’ve gone from old modified removal vans to highly technical trailers with in-built living accommodation for overnight stays at competitions.
But that’s the normal ones. What we love are the crazy, imaginative, wildly brilliant horseboxes that you just might want to own yourself.
Here’s the top five that we would want for Christmas:
1) A mobile home
Just look at what Katie Price did with her old horsebox.
This home from home is bigger than a starter flat in London and a lot more luxurious.
Check out those sofas, the shiny wood, the cupboard space.
Honestly, considering how roomy it is, how interesting it is, plus the fact that you can drive this thing around, who’d buy a white caravan that’s as wide as a pair of shoes?
2) A tiny double decker bus
Just genius. Yes, you can go on a real one but who wants to do that when you can climb aboard this beauty?
Alright, it’s not going to go anywhere without being pulled by something else (and who decides on the route?) but in 2011 this old rusting horsebox was saved from being eaten by hedges by top chap Tony Hood.
It’s even got carpet and cushioned seats plus a camping stove and a kettle already installed for roadside snackage.
And it gets pulled along by Tony’s colour-coordinated International 343 tractor so you get to annoy people behind you twice over.
3) A pub
Oh, come on!
An events company in Worcester took this HB506 model from Ifor Williams, renovated it and equipped it with ale pumps, its own generator, fridges, freezers and all the fiddly equipment you need to make fancy cocktails.
It can cater for small events or the guys fold out the second bar for bigger parties. It’s even got pictures on the wall and a trendy blackboard.
4) A hotel
This has to be one of the coolest places to stay in the UK and one of the oddest.
A Surrey couple bought a rotting 1975 Bedford TK lorry for £2000, renovated it themselves, popped in a kingsize bed, bunk beds, sofa bed, kitchen and wood burning stove and are now charging people £135 a night to stay in it.
The side folds down to create a sundeck and the converted horse trailer next door has a walk-in shower, toilet and washbasin.
Just gloriously charming and it’s so popular, people are booking it three months in advance.
5) A mobile wood fired pizza van.
Whoever had the idea of turning a vintage horsebox into one of these is a visionary mastermind.
They are popping up everywhere now from weddings and garden parties to corporate events and farmers’ markets selling fresh home-made pizza to the hungry hordes. And we think they are brilliant.
These horseboxes suit the pizza oven idea so well, they look like they were designed to be these little kitchens in the first place.
These are our favourites, but do let us know if you know any more that are even better.
Oh, and if you’re one of those oddballs who use horseboxes for your actual horses – mad, we know but it takes all sorts – then get horsebox insurance from Staveley Head.
Right then, anyone fancy a pint? There’s this nice little bar we know…