Comedian Johnny Vegas’ drunken purchase in pub led to a glampsite in Nidderdale - and a Channel 4 TV series
When comedian Johnny Vegas got drunk and decided to buy an old bus from Malta to replace his stolen campervan, he didn’t realise he would end up launching a glampsite in Nidderdale.
While on holiday in Wales, the Benidorm and QI star got chatting to someone from the National Trust which had land to develop, and ended up buying the bus online while in the pub. He intended to convert it into a glampervan and set up a cool glamping site run by the trust.
However, things weren’t quite as straightforward as Johnny thought.
He said: “I did what any sensible person would do – I got drunk, went online and bought an old Maltese bus. I didn’t look for a bus in the UK, I didn’t go that far down the searches. We had three attempts at getting it in the country and on the third attempt, the ferry caught fire.
“Then we had planning issues with the initial site which meant things couldn’t go ahead. We met up with some other site owners but had more issues, and we were just at the point of scrapping the whole mad idea when we met Richard and Louise, from Breaks Fold Farm. They were a Godsend.”
Two years later, the bus is one of five vintage vehicles on the Field of Dreams, which is just about to open at the Nidderdale farm.
Johnny’s journey to convert the bus and find a site - with the help of assistant Bev and a gang of vintage vehicle enthusiasts - has been documented in a four-part series called Johnny Vegas: Carry on Glamping.
“I quietly suspect that Bev thought I wouldn’t even buy a bus and that it was one of those drunken things. It was like my midlife crisis. There were times I genuinely thought ‘should we have got involved?’ But then we found the site in Nidderdale and we just knew - it was like being on a dating site and finding the right woman after being rejected five times.
“Richard and Louise had the experience, the knowledge, they are the ones running the site. The area is beautiful, and we want to create a family-friendly community-minded site. We are in this for the long term, and we want to enrich the area.
“We put a call out for more rescued vehicles and the other owners are invested in making this work too. It’s been a real team effort.
“We have plans for the site in the future, and will be talking to Yorkshire Water about developing a sculpture park near the reservoir.”
Johnny said: “My mum said to me ‘what are you naming a rusty old bus after me for?’ I wish she could see how it has turned out.
Patricia features a kitchenette and a unique shower, with tiles hand made by Johnny himself. The bus’ original chairs have been restored to create outdoor benches while other parts of the vehicle have been recycled by Harrogate artist Steve Blaylock to create an angel sculpture. Each vehicle has its own bathroom in a vintage horsebox.
Johnny added: “I’m so proud of her, she’s one of my greatest achievements. And it’s the people we attracted to the project who made it happen, otherwise it would still be the docks in Malta. I just love that we picked up all these people along the way and every vehicle on there hasn’t been built to purpose, it’s been rescued. We’ve got an American school bus, we’ve got Billy the Snail, we’ve got a German fire truck and trailer and we converted the trailer into a separate children’s bedroom. And we’ve got this bizarre Citroen bus that drives as one but then splits into two, so you’ve got a decking area on it.
"I hope people get the sense from the show that it’s a lot of different people’s passions coming together and it didn’t start out as a commercial venture. But the practicality of it is, she has to start paying her way. Everybody’s suffered financial losses and work has been thinner on the ground so it’s gone from being to a passion to now she does need to be a going venture. Everyone we show her to says they want to stay in her, so it’s probably going to create a nightmare with family and friends!”
Johnny Vegas: Carry on Glamping, will be on C4 at 10pm every Wednesday from May 5. All episodes will be available on All 4 following the first episode. To book a glamping vehicle, although Patricia isn’t available yet, visit: www.breaksfoldfarmglamping.co.uk