motor cycle and side coffin
Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse, Museum of Norfolk Life
Gressenhall, Dereham, Norfolk, England, UK
Maurice Taylor, Holt, Norfolk
Last Updated: 9:12PM BST 13 Sep 2003
The motorcycle hearse mentioned by Christopher Booker (Notebook, September 7) may be the only operational vehicle of its kind in Britain, but an excellent example can be seen in the Norfolk Rural Life Museum at Gressenhall.
The hearse is drawn by a Norton motorcycle, and consists of a sidecar chassis with wooden platform on which the coffin is laid. It was the brainchild of a local worthy to provide a speedy and cheap method of transporting the bodies of departed inmates for interment to the parishes of their origin.
It seems that this was too much even for the guardians of the day, and the vehicle was never used for the purpose for which it was intended. The same cannot be said, however, for the coffin, which was of the re-usable variety with a hinged side from which the pauper's body could be slid into its final resting place.