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Horse-drawn hearses await auction

Horse-drawn hearses await sale in Kent Photo: ITV Meridian

Lined up, in lots, at a farmhouse in Kent: horse-drawn hearses, for sale by auction. Wedding and ceremonial carriages too.

They've been Alva Evans' pride and joy for 35 years, since a legacy from her father enabled her to buy this Sefton Landau and begin her rentals business.

"No one was doing them down here, all the way to the coast, the Medway towns, Thanet" she says, "so it was a bit of a niche and it took a long time for it to take off but we worked up to nearly 200 a year."

The carriages proved popular across London and the south-east but now Alva's decided it's time to retire:-

"There's a lot of people coming into it and they're keeping the price down and I've got a lot older and decided it's time to sell; it's been successful, no horrible accidents, all the horses are well, everything's in one piece."

Checking the stock today, specialist auctioneer Michael Kimber from Reading, who travels widely for this kind of lot.

"We sold some hearses a few months ago in Essex and there was good demand, a lot of bidding for them" he says, adding: "and these are similar hearses so not everybody was able to buy in Essex so hopefully they'll be down here in Kent to top up their lots, as it were."

Also being sold, the horses - not that they seem bothered. And they've pulled a celebrity or two in their time, as Alva explains:

"Virgina Wade's birthday party, I 've had Cliff Richard in that burgundy one over there, Ainsley Harriott. We've buried Nana Moon from Eastenders, if anybody remembers her, she was Alfie's mum I think."

It's the end of what Alva says was an amazing era: "It's not for the faint of heart but oh it's amazing, I mean, you shouldn't be but you are the centre of attention sat up there with all these horses in front of you. It's been a wonderful, wonderful life and a wonderful existence."

The auction starts at ten o'clock tomorrow morning. Watch the video here: