Mothballs with a Whiff of Whisky 


Greetings table, L to R Terry Stubbington, Maureen Barrett and Anne Newnham

The last of the 2018/2019 series of winter talks took place in the Emsworth Community Centre on Wednesday evening, 20th February. Nigel Gossop of the Bedhampton Historical Collection talked about the life of William Gordon Stables, naval surgeon, prolific author, and one of the founders of the Caravan Club.

Stables (1857-1910) was a shameless self publicist and adventurer who in vacations while studying medicine joined a whaler that got caught in pack ice and went trekking in Northern Canada. After qualifying, Stables served in both the Royal and the merchant navies before marrying and settling in Twyford as a GP. The couple had five children. Stables had written articles while in the Navy but once in Twyford he wrote over 130 books on subjects as diverse as animal husbandry, health, caravanning and stories for boys – ‘Ripping Yarns’.Mothball1

Stables loved travel and he designed and had built a caravan similar to the gypsy wagons he had seen in his youth. The 17ft, 2 ton, caravan was drawn by two horses and on his long-distance outings (such as his foray to Aberdeen and back) Stables took with him Foley, his valet, and John, his coachman. The caravan, nicknamed the Wanderer, was fitted out as a miniature home. There was a kitchen and a drawing room that even contained a harmonium. Stables’ caravan has now been restored and can be seen at the Caravan Club’s headquarters in the Cotswolds.

‘Mothballs and a Whiff of Whisky’ is how one young girl described William Gordon Stables in old age.

Lower picture: Nigel Gossop "centre" with Vice Chairman Margaret Rogers and Past Chairman Tony Stimson

Report: Christine Bury.

Pictures: Mike Edwards