Freeman Brothers was first established as a funeral director in Horsham, West Sussex, in 1855. The company now has a further three offices – in Billingshurst, Crawley, and Hurstpierpoint – and continues to provide funeral services to many local people each year. As the funeral industry evolves, the team has been able to add increased personalisation to many arrangements. Becky gives an overview of how vehicles have played a key role in this…
Hearses are one of the elements of a funeral which have changed far more than people might think in recent years. Since the introduction of the motorised hearse in the 1920s, certain changes have been obvious and, whilst horse-drawn hearses are still used fairly regularly in the UK, they also aren’t a typical part of a funeral.H
In addition to this, the ability to convert a variety of vehicles and the continued technological advances in motoring mean that there are more options than ever before when it comes to funeral transport. Below are some of the ‘unusual’ modes of transport we have helped to arrange during the last few years…
We’ve now arranged several funerals incorporating motorbike hearses, and were recently able to capture video footage of a procession – you can see it here. The funeral in December 2023 made use of a motorbike fitted with a special sidecar which allows the coffin to be positioned inside it. There is space for floral tributes, or other items – we often find that those arranging a funeral for a Deceased person who was a fan of motorbikes wish for some personal items to go alongside the coffin, such as a helmet or gloves.
The occasion captured in the video was fairly simple, with a hearsette and the motorbike hearse, but we are happy to work with additional riders who wish to accompany the hearse as it progresses.
Land Rover hearse
The most famous use of a Land Rover hearse was arguably Prince Philip’s funeral in April 2021. Less famous, but just as important in our eyes, was when a customer of ours made the same request, and we gladly worked with a supplier to honour their wish.
For this funeral, there was an extensive foot procession through Billingshurst, which drew a reasonable amount of attention. Larger hearses such as this offer a reasonable amount of room for flowers and personal items, and are a fitting tribute for many countryside enthusiasts.
Volkswagen camper van hearse
In December 2020, it had been a challenging year, with difficult times still to follow. Funeral services were going ahead, sometimes with limitations. But creativity wasn’t one of them, and we were really pleased to arrange a special element for a gentleman who had hoped to take a road trip in a Volkswagen camper van. Sadly, this hadn’t been possible, but he was able to complete his final journey in one, with his loved ones accompanying in a campervan limousine.
It was a grey day, but the added touch of a floral tribute incorporating his beloved cricket bat was another important nod to someone much-missed.
Often a fairly straightforward proposition, as there is no problem with capacity for a coffin, merely securing it! We have had a variety of heavy vehicles from scaffold vans to larger lorries convey coffins to a funeral. This tends to be an occasion whereby friends or family members arrange the loan of a vehicle, rather than it being something that we as funeral directors source, but with appropriate straps in place, we are more than happy to facilitate this.
From high-end sports car brand hearses (my own favourite is a Maserati that I saw at the National Funeral Exhibition), to hybrid and electric ones, just as the domestic automotive sector is changing, so is the commercial side. Some options are linked to an increased desire to consider the environmental impact of funerals, and others are purely linked to a greater range of choice and personalisation.
Whether your preferred vehicle has been listed here or not, we are always happy to offer advice free of charge and without obligation, and would be pleased to tailor your requirements when the need arises.