The vehicle customarily used for transporting a person who has died to his or her final resting place is the classic big black hearse.
There are alternatives to the trad hearse. When it comes to planning that final journey, Brits are incredibly creative and free-spirited.
If you are arranging the funeral yourself, you may find it difficult to find a mainstream supplier who’ll will be willing to deal with you direct.
If you think a trad hearse too showy and would rather have something more modest, something greener, some funeral directors will offer you an alternative – an estate car, for example, or the vehicle they use for picking up people who have died. Many funeral directors will come over all reluctant if you do, reckoning anything less than a hearse to be less than ‘dignified’. Put your foot down.
The Brahms electric hearse scooped the ‘Best Green Funeral Product Award’ at the 2016 Good Funeral Awards ceremony in London in September. The hearse is based on the Nissan Leaf electric car, and has a coffin deck that will carry a 6’10” coffin with ease. A few forward thinking funeral directors have already commissioned a Brahms hearse for their fleet, including Leverton & Sons in London.
David Billington from Yorkshire based Full Circle Funerals, says, “The team at Full Circle are proud to own the only electric Eco-hearse in the north of England. Apart from being a beautifully engineered piece of machinery and a step forward in creating a more environmentally friendly funeral, we really believe that this marks a major turning point in the funeral industry for the better.”
Brahms are introducing an electric hearse Hire Service this autumn to help more Funeral Directors and bereaved families experience their contribution to a more gentle funeral or help create a greener funeral. More details here.
If you would like to be the person who drives the person who has died on their last journey in this world, there is one carriage master who will not only supply you a hearse direct but, also, let you drive it. James Hardcastle at The Carriage Master can bring you a hearse and, if you like, a limousine, wherever you are in the country. Check out his Hearse+ here. His insurance will cover you. Alternatively, if you would like one of his people to drive, they’ll be perfectly happy to do so.
Contact James Hardcastle at The Carriage Master: thecarriagemaster.co.uk
You can, of course, use your own vehicle — or any sort of vehicle.
Click on the topics below to find out:
If you would like to take the person who’d died on their final ride yourself, there is nothing to stop you from using or hiring your own preferred vehicle and taking them in that.
Drive down to the undertaker’s, load up and off you go.
This way, you can go by any route you want and spend all the time you want – so long as you get to the church or crem on time.
Be sure to have enough people to carry the coffin.
And be sure to secure the coffin in the vehicle.
You don’t want it surging forward when you brake.
Ask any undertaker about the various types of hearses that are available all over the UK.
Google type and colour – there are so many!
Very few suppliers will deal with you direct.
AW Lymn of Nottingham runs probably the biggest fleet of Rolls Royces in Europe.
These are low-tech and hard work. People often take it in turns to lend a hand in the procession and feel involved.
You would probably be best off sourcing these locally.
An undertaker is the person best able to help you find one.
Traditionally pulled by Belgian Blacks with nodding plumes of ostrich feathers.
These declined in popularity after the Kray funerals, but are now as popular as ever and available throughout the UK.
Timeless and marvellous, they move at everyone’s walking pace.
Make sure you or one of yours rides on it, not the funeral director.
They are usually very expensive to hire – unless, of course, you know someone!
Find one near you by typing horse-drawn hearse and your county into Google.
A beautiful six horse-drawn hearse.
Best known and utterly reliable is Motorcycle Funerals run by the Rev Paul Sinclair, a huge character and a national treasure in his own right.
“Why,” he asks, “should those who love bikes be last seen in an automobile?”
Motorcycle Funerals – motorcyclefunerals.com. Ring: 01530 834616. Based in Leicestershire, operates UK-wide.
There are also some hearse trailers out there pulled by trikes.Trike Funerals — http://www.trikefuneralsuk.co.uk/
The Rev Paul and others also provide bicycle hearses. Google bicycle hearse and then ring for details.
Vintage lorry hearses
Owned and driven by the splendid David Hall.
He and his 1950 Leyland Beaver will drive anywhere.
David has a gift for creating a display on the lorry’s flat bed which reflects the life of the person who has died.
vintagelorryfunerals.co.uk Ring 01225 865346.
Brendan Kinsella has a 1929 vintage Guy (above). Beautifully restored, a real eyecatcher. www.vintagefuneralhearse.co.uk
For countryfolk, explorers and other aficionados of the all-terrain vehicle, Alpha 4×4 Funerals offer a silver Land Rover hearse and matching Zambesi ‘limousine’. Alpha 4×4 Funerals: www.4x4funerals.co.uk. Ring: 01234 720936. Based in Bedford.
For lovers of the VW camper van, Volkswagen Funerals offer a white VW Type 26 Bay hearse plus fleet of three white stretch Beetles. Alternatively, you can have the 1963 split-screen 21-window Samba. Fantastically lovely people. Based in Staffordshire.Volkswagen Funerals: volkswagenfunerals.co.uk. Ring: 01827 709067 or 01827 709045.
Morris Minor hearse
Trudy the Traveller is a lovingly restored and converted 1965 Morris Minor. She is based in Staffordshire and will travel all over central England and further afield from November 2011. We predict a very bright future. Morris Minor Hearse Company: http://morrisminorhearse.co.uk/
Citroen Type-H van hearse
An informal alternative to the big, black hearse, the Citroen Type-H hearse has a friendly appearance and is immaculately presented. Bon Voyage hearse – http://www.bonvoyagehearse.co.uk/
It’s a Fordson hotrod, nice looking, supplied by the Final Cruise Co. Good website. They’ll customise your coffin, too. Final Cruise Co http://thefinalcruise.co.uk/
For the petrolhead in your life, a beautifully converted Humvee. Contact Trevor Holyoak at www.hummerhearse.co.uk
Only Fools and Horses Del Boy Reliant van hearse
It’s Del Boy’s Reliant 3-wheeler van towing a converted, stretch Reliant. Only Fools and Hearses http://www.onlyfoolsandhearses.co.uk/
Fire engine hearse
This company restores and maintains fire engines that can be adapted to act as hearses. http://www.classicfireengines.co.uk/
1972 Cadillac Deville with all the toys: http://www.gothiclimousines.co.uk/hearse.htm
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