Melbourne Funeral Directors, Chapter House engineer Australia’s first Infant/Child Hearse

Melbourne Funeral Directors, Chapter House has the first of its kind in Australia, a BMW 5 Infant Hearse that has been designed and engineered in collaboration with Chapter House staff Troy Upfield, Steve Summers and a private engineer.

Our infant hearse has been designed to transport an infant to their final resting place with the upmost respect and consideration to a family. Our infant hearse has privacy windows with very subtle blue, pink or white lighting, dependant on a families wishes.

Australia’s only infant Hearse.


Why do we need a infant child hearse?

Troy said in his speech at the opening of Chapter House on 16 November 2017:

“as funeral directors we have had to learn to mask some of our emotions at times, however there was one funeral that was too much for me. I managed to hide my emotions until I got to the car. We had just finished a service in the chapel with about 20 family members, a beautiful service for a tragic circumstance. It was only the parents that were going to following me to the crematorium while I had their loved one onboard. Whilst I was driving I was struggling to comprehend that I was not in a hearse, I was driving a small hatch back with an 18 month old on the back seat. I could see in my rear vision mirror the parents, I didn’t see them speak once and whilst I knew I could never understand their grief I kept thinking of better ways to do this with dignity for families. When we arrived at the cemetery I slowly lead them to the rose garden where they could say their goodbyes to their little one before I proceeded to the crematorium. As I opened the back door the mother and father had to lean awkwardly into the car to touch their babies casket in the back seat. I was embarrassed and ashamed at this process and delivery of service.

When I got back to headquarters I questioned our mode of transport and told them what had happened and how I felt and I was told that ‘this is the only option as infants cannot be transported in a normal size hearse, besides its what everyone in the industry does.’ I was very unhappy and made it my mission to offer a solution to families and rather than accept that his is what the industry has done for many years and continues to do, we decided to change it” and hence Chapter House was created.

We as people and communities have changed dramatically, everything has changed from information, interaction, thought processes and community expectations. Our view at Chapter House is to go back a chapter and start again.

Troy Upfield said “Every life has a story to tell and we at Chapter House will assist in crafting meaningful stories that respect, honour and celebrate each individual lives. Because this is their unique story”

Australia’s only infant Hearse.

Industry Background

The funeral industry in Australia has not been progressive. Australian funeral practises in the 1800 to early 1900’s was that families took care of their deceased from illness to death to burial. An undertaker, traditionally a carpenter, or similar, would make and deliver the coffin to the family and that was it. This changed somewhat in the 1920’s with the undertaker taking a larger role in the process. Also with the advent of more hospitals and care facilities, families began to rely on professionals to take care of their family members. Soon the word ‘undertaker’ was replaced with ‘funeral director’, their job was to take care of all aspects of the deceased from time of death to burial.

The greatest change came around 10 years ago with the entry of the corporate world that has changed the industry, our view is not for the better, not for the same but for the worse. The cookie cutter approach, mass marketing, running a plethora of brands under one company, funeral staff swapping ties during the day along with changing hearse signage with magnets to suit the brand in between funerals… people stories haven’t been told the way most families would like and the industry hasn’t been forced to change until now.

Australia’s only infant Hearse.