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Caravan of love
WHEN Norman Imm from Southampton went on holiday to Naish holiday park in 1951 he didn’t realise it was going to change his life.
The 22-year-old, who was in the merchant navy, had been going to the holiday park in New Milton , now called Hoburne Naish, since he was aged around three.
He had even lived on the site with his mother for a while, before the outbreak of the Second World War.
But it was on that holiday that Norman, now 83, met Diana, who went on to become his wife.
Since then the couple have been almost every year to the park, which is celebrating its centenary this year.
But Norman can still remember the first time he met Diana as if it was a week ago, not more than 60 years.
“I was there with some friends staying in a little caravan,” he remembers.
“We had our towels and swimming costumes and were walking down to the sea. We heard these giggling girls and as boys we went over and introduced ourselves. We had a laugh and a joke and invited them to join us for a swim. From then on we near enough had the rest of the holiday together.
“I liked it so much at Naish Farm that the next year I bought myself a little caravan down there. It was called Brer Rabbit. It meant my wife – or girlfriend as she was then – and I could go down there on our own.”
At the time Diana lived in Maidenhead.
Norman was away at sea a lot with the merchant navy but the couple kept in touch by letter and romance blossomed. They married in 1953, two weeks before Diana’s 19th birthday.
They continued to visit the park most years, first as a young couple, then with their children and grandchildren.
Now they visit a couple of times a year, often with a friend, Peter, who Norman was on holiday with when he first met Diana.
They have noticed plenty of changes over the years.
When Norman first visited the site with his family in 1933, it was still a working farm.
After the death of his father he and his mother lived at the site in a van called ‘Eastleigh ’ – an old bus with a lean-to extension.
“I think the ground rent was about £4 and ten shillings a year,” he remembers.
“All hell was let loose when they put it up to £5!”
Back then it was still a working farm and Norman helped out with the haymaking.
The holiday park has changed over the years but its place in Norman’s heart hasn’t.
Perhaps it’s unsurprising that, having been visiting the site for almost 80 years, Norman describes Hoburne Naish as his ‘home from home’.
“The people there are very pleasant and it’s all very tidy and everyone is wellbehaved,”
he says. “I love it there.”
THE story of Hoburne Holiday Parks began in 1912 when a tenant farmer decided that he wanted to get a piece of land for himself.
John Burry was in his late 40s when he successfully bid at auction for Hubborn Farm in Highcliffe, where he had been a tenant farmer for some 14 years.
Eight years on, in 1920, he bought the nearby Naish Farm in New Milton.
It was in a fantastic location – 100 acres on a cliff top with stunning views across the Solent – and people began to apply for permission to put up temporary holiday homes around the edges of the fields.
Old buses and disused railway carriages became family holiday homes. By the time John died in 1947, their number had swelled from a handful to some 400 holiday homes at Naish.
Following generations have purchased more parks and today there are seven Hoburne holiday parks in Dorset, Hampshire, Devon, Somerset, the Cotswolds and Cornwall.
Hoburne is holding a number of events to celebrate its centenary, including pledging to raise at least
£100,000 for children’s cancer charity CLIC Sargent.
Hoburne Holiday Parks have produced a commemorative book, 100 Years of Happy
Holidays, to mark their centenary. Priced £12.99 plus p&p it is available from
hoburne.com or by calling 0844 2882012.