Sunderland man turns prison van into holiday home

Robert Stevens, who is busy converting an ex-prison van into a holiday camper which he hopes to go off touring Scotland in the summer.

Robert Stevens, who is busy converting an ex-prison van into a holiday camper which he hopes to go off touring Scotland in the summer.

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IT’S not your typical motorhome.

It’s more used to transporting criminals to court than happy families on holiday.

Robert Stevens, who is busy converting an ex-prison van into a holiday camper which he hopes to go off touring Scotland in the summer.

Robert Stevens, who is busy converting an ex-prison van into a holiday camper which he hopes to go off touring Scotland in the summer.

But now a Sunderland man has snapped up this prison van and transformed it into a home like no other.

Robert Stevens paid just £2,700 for the van when he spotted it at auction in Kidderminster just over a year ago.

Bringing it back home to Pennywell, the 54-year-old enlisted his son, also called Robert, into helping him strip out the cells and bars, replacing them with beds and solar panels.

Robert jnr, 30, of Hylton Road, said: “We’ve been going all over the place in it, from Scotland to Milton Keynes. We even take it to the away matches.

Despite a transformation inside, the van remains unchanged on the outside, attracting lots of comments from passers-by.

Robert jnr added: “People say stuff all the time. I think they’re quite surprised when they see a prison van parked outside our house.

“Even the police have been to ask what it is. I think they were curious about how we got it.”

Robert and his dad are also keen fans of motor racing and go to events across the country in their holiday home, taking 11-year-old grandson and son, also called Robert, along with them.

Robert added: “My dad is a bit of a builder and electrician, so we managed to do all the work inside the van ourselves.”

The van has five beds but can sleep up to six people.

The Stevens family are now working to install a shower in the van’s last remaining cell.

Although thought to be a first for Sunderland, this isn’t the only prison van that has been given a new lease of life.

Stewart Vine, from Newcastle, last year set up a barber shop in the back of the decommissioned prison van he bought.

His business, Clipperdy Doo-Dah, targeted people who live in remote areas of the region or were too busy to visit a barber.

The van, which once held four prisoners, had two barbers’ chairs, a waiting area and a television.

Fleets of prison vehicles were decommissioned in January last year after new contracts were awarded to private firms GEOAmey and Serco to provide security services across the UK.

At the time, the Ministry of Justice said it was concerned about the practice of selling former prison vehicles, which could be then be used in an escape.

Prior to the prison transportation service being privatised, decommissioned security vehicles were destroyed.

Twitter: @craigjourno