We’ve all had that feeling - seeing something stunning that you simply have to own.

For Gary Wallace, it wasn’t a piece of art or jewellery that caught his eye – it was a showman’s wagon.

From the day he first set eyes on the vehicle, at Gifford’s Circus in the Cotswolds in 2000, Gary had dreamt of becoming the owner of one of the striking wagons.

So when Brexit hit the construction industry, in which Gary worked, he decided use crowdfunding to set up Dorset Wagon Company, and make his very own vehicle, from scratch, from a workshop in Wareham.

“It was about 20 years ago, when my daughter was first born, that we went to Giffords Circus,” he remembers.

“Everyone was standing and gazing at this wagon. Something about it just grabbed me. I just thought ‘I want one’. Occasionally they would come up and I would go and look at them, but they were rotten. The ones that were new, no one would sell.

“After Brexit we saw a nosedive in construction. We built conservatories. I didn’t want to be in a race to the bottom, so we said ‘we are not going to be in this market’. The only way we could compete was by cutting corners, which is not the way we do things.”

Gary set up Dorset Wagon Company, took on a design engineer and an apprentice cabinet maker and together they set about creating the support structure.

“No one has made one of these for 70 years,” explains Gary.

“We started in September 2017, without really knowing how long it was going to take, or how much it was going to cost. We’ve done this completely blind, with no idea how to build it. I just knew what I wanted.

“Everyone said I was an idiot, but we did it. Now I’m standing here and looking at it and I’m so proud of it.”

Gary has chosen each and every piece of timber from local, independent suppliers, and ensured the traditional crafts and skills of highly skilled cabinet makers and carpenters were used to create the wagon, in keeping with its heritage.

The finished prototype is breathtakingly beautiful. It features a lounge with a wood burner, a bedroom with a large bay window and a dressing area, as well as a fully-equipped bathroom and kitchen areas.

All the fittings and furnishings have been rescued from salvage fairs or boat jumbles, or created bespoke by Gary and his team – even down to the windows and upholstery.

The 30ft long wagon, which is 8.5ft wide and 12ft high, is fully insulated, with double glazing and can be towed behind any traction engine at 25mph on a road.

“We’ve built these to last a lifetime,” says Gary. “It’s a real, working wagon that you can live in and use, and tow behind a vehicle.

“They were the accommodation for people that ran steam engines to tow a carousel and this is what they would live in. Because they would make so much money, they became more and more fancy. In 1948, one was built and it cost £6,000. You could buy a house for £300.”

The prototype wagon was recently launched at an event at Studland Bay House, and Gary is already working on alternative designs, with an anticipated starting price of £105,000.

“We can do any finish,” he says. “This one is ‘country cottage’, but we can line it in yew, or you could have it all panelled wood. We’ve done another design with a balcony or a hotel style without a kitchen.

“They used to do paintings on the ceiling. We can do all of that.”

Gary is anticipating the main market to be glamping and accommodation, as there are no limits when it comes to how luxurious the wagons can be.

He can also see them used in the grounds at more intimate wedding venues which have limited accommodation available, as an alternative base for guests to stay, or for catering – with one kitchen carriage and others for dining in, and has already had some interest from the National Trust.

“You want it when you see it,” he smiles. “It’s just so desirable.”

The Dorset Wagon Company

T: 01929 408366

W: dorsetwagon.co.uk