A 40 YEAR old VW Campervan has been transformed into a unique ‘mobile tribute’ to Skipton, in a bid to help the town get back on track after the coronavirus pandemic.

Landlord Andrew Mear, chairman of Skipton Business Improvement District (BID) and owner of several properties in the town, including the historic High Corn Mill, came across the iconic 1978 campervan while walking his dog in a field near to his home in Norwood Green, Halifax.

Within six weeks, it had been fully restored and its traditional blue livery replaced with graphics of some of Skipton’s most well known landmarks, such as the castle, on its bonnet, narrow boats on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, the waterwheel from High Corn Mill and cobbled streets.

“It was one of those lightbulb moments when I realised I could help both my tenants around Skipton and the town itself, to be promoted in a novel new way.

“After the Covid-19 crisis, Skipton, like everywhere else could do with a bit of a boost and this seemed a great way to present some of our best-known sights in a fun and interesting way,” he said.

Mr Mear called on the help of photographer, Stephen Garnett, to come up with high resolution photographs which were used by Jess Wright Graphics to create the images on the vehicle, while restoration was carried out by Pelican Garage in Batley.

The campervan will now be a regular sight on market days on Skipton High Street, as well as town events where is is expected to be quite a draw. It will be on permanent display, parked up outside High Corn Mill, and businesses in the town are welcome to use it for their own promotions.

Mr Mear also hopes the campervan can be used as part of new youth led markets being planned to widen the interest of the market and the town.

Meanwhile, he has already been offered £20,000 for the unique campervan while it was parked on the High Street, and it has also become something for visitors to stand next to and have their photographs taken.

He said: “The plan is that the van can be used by businesses in Skipton as a way to promote themselves during market and festival days. It has a number of exciting features - including an expanding canopy for banners, a back which pops open to reveal a display area which can be used to place products, offer food and drink samples and hold any other marketing material such as leaflets. I’m particularly keen to help my independent tenants promote their businesses but the idea was for it to be a showcase piece for the whole town.”

Mr Mear says the campervan has the benefit of a new engine, so it always starts, but being an old vehicle, it lacks power-steering and drives a bit like a ‘dumper truck’, although it being narrow, its good at getting into parking spots.

“I don’t think I’d go camping in it though, it is a bit of an ancient relic,” he said.

It is planned that the campervan will be used by Skipton Town Council as part of its tourism strategy and help encourage visitors back to the area.

Dave Parker, chief officer of Skipton Town Council which is responsible for the operation of Skipton Market, said: “We are delighted to have this iconic vehicle available to us during the period where we have been working to safely reopen our equally iconic market. It has already created a good deal of interest - and it is a perfect focal point for us as we continue to gather the views and ideas of local residents and visitors to Skipton to help us reshape the market and our town centre.”

Businesses interested in using the campervan to promote themselves, can contact Andrew Mear by email at: andrew@sanpedro.uk