Offbeat Video

By Ian Hinchliffe and Neil Athey


Meet the fastest ‘rev-erend’ in the world who rides a motorbike with a specially converted hearse side car.

Rev Paul Sinclair swapped his clerical collar for bike leathers and founded the UK’s first motorcycle hearse service in 2002.

MERCURY PRESS

And business is now booming for the 52-year-old who has carried out more than 5,000 ceremonies across the UK since he started.

The clergyman’s service includes conveying coffins of bikers and motorcycle enthusiasts to funerals as a symbol for their passion for the machines.

Paul, who started with just one converted hearse, now has an 11-strong fleet and can cater any funeral.

Paul said the bikes can add an extra personal touch to someone’s service.

He said: “It can be really satisfying to see the smiles on the families faces when we drive past and the coffins are on display in the bikes.

“To take a former biker to his funeral in a vehicle he admired and loved is very special.

“I’m really fond of what I do because it’s an interesting job and it makes a lot of people happy.

“When I’m out at a funeral people comment on how fitting it is for their relative to be carried on a motorbike hearse.

“This is why I do it, it creates a nice memory for the person’s loved ones.”

MERCURY PRESS

Each of his fleet of 11 motorcycles were stripped down, rebuilt and fused with specially crafted nine-foot-long fibre glass hearse.

The vehicles take around a year to build by hand before they are ready to hit the road.

Dubbed Heaven’s Angel, Paul has been a clergyman for 29 years and said he gets lots of positive feedback when he’s out and about on his beloved hearses.

He said: “When there’s a coffin in the hearse people are very respectful and I see men take off their hats.

“However when its empty I get people chatting to me and asking lots of questions, it’s great that people take an interest.

“99 per cent of the time people go away and understand why I did it.

“I tell them lots of motorcyclists want to be driven around in this as their last journey, it’s very fitting for them.

MERCURY PRESS.

“They don’t want to be put in a car, it would like telling an Everton fan to wear a Liverpool kit – you just can’t do that.”

Paul decided to start the unusual business after he suffered a serious motorbike crash in 2001.

Paul who lives in Heather, Leicestershire, said: “It all started when a car pulled out on me as I was going around a roundabout and we ploughed into it.

“My left wrist was crushed and my left arm was badly damaged, I had to have parts of the bone cut away and it left me with one arm about two inches shorter than the other.

“I had fancied creating these bikes for years but I had put it off.

“As a clergyman I had done a few funerals in London of bikers and thought it would be great to have sent them off on a bike.

“When I was recovering from my injuries I thought now is my chance to do it.

“I had found out there was a guy in Australia that had made a wooden side car hearse, but it didn’t have a roof which would not have worked over here at all.

“The hearse costs around £42,000 to make, this includes the motorcycle itself and all the materials and getting the bikes reclassified as hearses.

MERCURY PRESS

“It was a slow process at first and it’s no quicker today, we have to make sure we get all the details right.

The biker has a range of hearses including a Triumph Bonneville, Triumph Thunderbird, a Suzuki Hayabusa and a Harley Davidson.

They feature a flower rail, secure fittings, internal temperature control, de-misting and internal lights.

Paul said he had covered the UK with his services, from the Isle of Jersey, Buckie on the Moray Firth coast in Scotland, the Isle of Man and Great Yarmouth.

Originally from Glasgow, Paul used to work in the city’s shipbuilding yards as a teenager just after he got his first motorcycle licence at the age of 15.

Following this he was ordained at the age of 23 and has served at several churches across the UK including London and Tamworth.

The biker enthusiast, who has a taste for going fast, was awarded a Guinness World Record for the fastest speed on a motorcycle hearse.

The faster-pastor managed to hit 126.6 miles per hour at the Elvington Airfield, York in May 2013.

Paul said he often has to turn a lot of motorcyclists away who want to work with him because they struggle to drive the hearses.

He said: “People often think it’s easier to drive because it won’t topple over.

MERCURY PRESS.

“However you’ve got a bike with two wheels the same size and a side car with different wheel that are smaller and are positioned differently.

“If you don’t turn the bike properly it can tip it, or the hearse, into the air and you can be thrown into oncoming traffic.

“Driving a motorcycle with a side car is nothing like driving a bike on its own, it’s completely different.”

The hearse has fully working lights and reflectors which came from an old mini cooper.

Paul said the hearses can fit even the tallest people inside them.

He said: “You wouldn’t think it at first but the hearse on my side car is actually longer than one of a converted car.

“If you strip away the car engine and the passenger seats the space for a coffin is slightly larger.

“I have always loved bikes, it is something completely different jumping on top of a bike in the fresh air.

“Maybe because it’s a bit like riding a horse, but you’re sat on top of an engine.”

The revered still has a part-time role with the church and takes one service a week at Coton Green Church in Tamworth.

Paul said he would like to open a secondary smaller depot near Scotland to make travelling to that side of the UK easier.

When asked about if he would be driven to his own funeral in one of the bikes when the time comes, he said: “When I go I want to go fast I want to go with a bit of class, probably on a lovely Triumph Bonneville, but hopefully not too soon.”