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Meet the man making custom camper vans worth up to £100,000

By Heather Large | Weekend | Published: | Last Updated:

When cabinet maker Mark Cooper struggled to find the camper van of his dreams, he decided to create his own.

Mark Cooper with the new special edition 4x4 off-road camper van

Using his 35 years of experience hand-crafting bespoke kitchens and furniture, he was able to design it to perfectly suit his needs.

He wanted real wood for the kitchen units – something that no manufacturers were offering at the time.

Seeing a gap in the market, Mark decided to set up a business producing VW campers with bespoke interiors, which he runs with his wife Clare, daughter Amy and son Ben in Shrewsbury.

It went from strength-to-strength and Rolling Homes, which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary, will be showcasing its new special edition 4x4 off-road van at this month’s Motorhome & Caravan Show at Birmingham NEC.

Snowballed

The company first began out of frustration as Mark couldn’t find a camper that met his high quality expectations.

“We wanted a new camper van but everything that was available just seemed a bit shoddy. I’m a cabinet maker and I thought I could make better. It’s just snowballed from there,” he explains.

Rolling Homes will be at this week's Motorhome & Caravan Show at Birmingham NEC

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Most of their bespoke campers start life with a Volkswagen Transporter as the base vehicle but the team can also convert a Mercedes Vito or Ford Transit.

Once it arrives at the Rolling Homes base in Ennerdale Road, the team will then begin fitting out the interior, which, depending on the requirements, takes around two weeks. Customers can choose from a range of nine camper vans or opt for one that’s completely bespoke.

From adding storage for a motorbike to providing seatbelts for dogs, they can be designed to suit the customers’ needs.

“We’re the only company in the UK that make real wood interiors and our worktops are made from Corian, which is found in top-of-the-range kitchens.

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“We use sheep’s wool for insulation so they are toasty warm. It’s all about quality and looking after our customers,” says Mark, 58.

Testing

To ensure the camper vans are fit for purpose, Mark and Clare will test out the different products.

“We test everything, we never sell anything we haven’t tested. We fit all of the new products into one van and then go away somewhere to try them all out.

“Last year we went to Scotland and the Hebrides. We could just park up on a beach.

“All of the vans are designed so you don’t need a mains hook-up. There is a lithium-ion battery and a solar panel. They have everything you need,” says Mark.

Lined up and ready to go

For their new 4x4 off-road camper, the team took the new VW T6 150 PS 4 Motion (4x4) SWB and fitted it with full off-road suspension.

They also raised the orange and black van by 100mm, fitted full under-protection, replaced the standard wheels with prototype wheels and off-road tyres, attached super-bright laser lights and fitted prototype carbon fibre race seats from Telford-based Cobra.

Inside there are all the usual camper van fixtures and fittings such as cupboards, fridge, dual ring gas burners, sink with working tap, heater and a pop-up roof as well as a sliding seat/bed system and Alpine stereo.

The campers are all fitted with bespoke interior at the company's Shrewsbury headquarters

And after a weekend off-roading, the inside of the van can easily be cleaned thanks to the easy-wipe floor and sides.

“We had a lot of fun with it and it’s turned out really well. It’s already getting a lot of attention,” says Mark.

£100k camper

To mark the company’s 10th anniversary, he decided to build “the best camper we could think of”, which costs around £100,000.

The Edition 10 includes solid walnut cupboards and luxurious leather upholstery. “It’s total decadence,” Mark tells Weekend.

The company has gained a reputation for its quality woodwork and Mark says he loves hearing people’s feedback.

“It sounds like a cliché but I enjoy meeting people. We were in our camper in Portugal when this guy came over and said ‘you’re so lucky that you’ve got a Rolling Home, I wish I had one’.

“He had no idea who I was, it wasn’t like he had come into my business and told me he liked my product, he genuinely didn’t know who I was and it was nice to tell him that I make them. He came back and ordered one. We sold two while we were on holiday that time,” says Mark.

Shop manager Chris Lee prepares one of the campers

There is a growing demand in Britain for camper vans with many people attracted to the lifestyle which provides the freedom to go where you want when you want.

Rolling Homes has made around 70 bespoke campers this year and Mark says he expects to produce between 80 and 90 next year.

“More people buy campers in the UK than the rest of Europe put together. The UK is also the biggest manufacturer of this size of camper.

“They are the size of a VW Passat so they are not too big and they can be used every day. People don’t buy them to sit them on the drive for 10 months of the year..

“It may be their only vehicle or it’s their second vehicle, they will use them not just as campers but every day because they are so versatile and they are also fuel efficient,” he explains.

Mark also enjoys playing a role in helping people to achieve their dream of owning a camper.

“When I was making furniture for people, there was still satisfaction in that, but with this, some people have been saving up their whole life for a camper and I know they are going to have lots of fun. That’s a nice feeling.

“I always tell people when they pick their camper up that they need to go and have some fun because that’s why they’ve bought it.

“I love receiving photos of people with their campers, I’ve had a photos of them as far away as the Sahara and the Arctic Circle. People go all over the place with them and I love that,” says Mark.

  • Rolling Homes can be found at stand 12.82 at the Motorhome and Caravan Show, which takes place at Birmingham NEC from October 15 to 20. Tickets can be bought in advance from mcshow.co.uk
Heather Large

By Heather Large
Special projects reporter - @HeatherL_star

Senior reporter and part of the Express & Star special projects team specialising in education and human interest features.

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