Choosing an alternative hearse in which to make your last journey can be a great way to personalise your funeral plans. Many famous people have been transported to their final resting place in less than conventional vehicles – Martin Luther King travelled in a white Cadillac, Princess Diana’s coffin was carried by a gun carriage and many monarchs including Queen Victoria have been carried via funeral train.
Here’s a select group of the wild, whacky and wonderful ideas for an alternative hearse currently available in the UK:
A trend established by the Victorians and their love for flamboyant funerals, a horse drawn carriage gained notoriety when it became the vehicle of choice for gangland figures such as the Kray twins. Traditionally black and pulled by Belgian Black horses with magnificent feather plumes, nowadays horse drawn carriages can be hired in white or even pink with matching horses and plumage starting from around £1,300.
The manufacture of mainstream hearses varies from country to country with brands such as Mercedes, Volvo, Jaguar and Ford being popular in Europe. However, it is now possible to hire pretty much any type of modern hearse-adapted car from 4x4s and Cadillacs to London Black Cabs, Hot Rods and VW Camper Vans so you can choose a style that says something about your character, hobbies or lifestyle.
It’s also becoming popular to hire adapted vehicles that represents your profession such as a flat-bed truck for builders, a tank for those in the military or even police cars, ambulances and fire engines.
The UK is also awash with the most beautiful vintage hearses for hire and with a little research and imagination you can find something truly show stopping. Classic car rental company Vintage Hoot have an adapted classic Daimler, a Humber and even a Gypsy Caravan hearse. They will also arrange a multi classic car parade salute to see you off in style and provide period costumed chauffeurs.
Recede at speed
A trend made popular by a motorcycling vicar, Rev Paul Sinclair, and his company Motorcycle Funerals, a motorcycle hearse will carry your coffin in speed and style. They offer a wide range of models to suit every enthusiast including Harley Davidson, Suzuki and Triumph. He also holds the world record for the fastest speed achieved on a motorcycle hearse and is happy to accommodate last wishes such as a lap of honour around an airfield at top speed!
If you want to keep your funeral’s environmental footprint as low as possible and distances facilitate it, you might want to consider a hand bier, or hand drawn carriage. Usually vintage Victorian stands with wheels, you are best to try and source one locally. It can be hard work to pull this mode of transport, with people often taking turns to pull them. However, this in itself can allow many people to become involved in your last journey and give them something meaningful to do. Alternatively the Revd Paul Sinclair also has bicycle hearses available for hire.
If these choices aren’t quite wild and whacky enough for you, friends and creative eventers David Gersch and Matthew Clowes have created an alternative hearse for those wishing to ‘go large’. Covered inside and out with brightly coloured fake flowers, their flower power hearse also boasts a sound system, multi coloured lights and picture frames attached to the side of the vehicle to let you custom design it with photos or artwork of your choice.
As a last note, there is nothing stopping willing friends and family transporting you in their own vehicle, if you want to go DIY, and this will obviously cut costs overall. You might also want to specify a route for your hearse in any funeral planning documents. Many people like the idea of passing by favourite haunts such as a pub or park.