Spotlight on Hillside Leisure
Adrian and David Cross tell Campervan magazine more about Hillside Leisure...
When did Hillside start out?
A long time ago, back when Adrian still had colour in his hair! Or, if you want specific dates, that was in 1995. The company name, Hillside, was established in 2004 and the business is still owned and managed by brothers, Adrian and David Cross.
What sets Hillside apart from the crowd?
Our background in engineering and a hands-on approach helps us to continually innovate, developing new designs and technology to keep our campervans up to date with the current needs and desires of our customers. But, perhaps more importantly, it helps us to make sure our campervans have the highest level of safety approvals possible.
How would you sum up the company’s ethos and values?
At our core, we want to sell our customers the campervan that is right for them. We’re not about pushy, commission-based sales; we prefer our sales to happen organically with the customers feeling comfortable, not pressured. As a result, we have many happy customers and get a lot of repeat business.
What do you think makes a great campervan conversion?
We feel a great campervan conversion should have no problem being NCC Approved as well as having some level of Type Approval. After that, a good campervan should be flexible, allowing you to escape for a weekend or even several weeks, and be used as your daily drive, if necessary. We’re both campervanners, so we understand how the design of the even the smallest details can make the biggest difference.
What kinds of bespoke options do you offer on your campers?
Our model line-up consists of a range of tried-and-tested campervan designs, all of which have NCC Approval and Whole Vehicle Type Approval, so we don’t offer bespoke, one-off conversions. However, we do offer a choice of body colours including two-tone paint, internal furniture finishes, upholstery, fabrics and leather, so you can customise your camper to your taste. We also provide accessories such as awnings and bike racks.
What’s your best-selling campervan?
The Birchover Classic, hands-down. Our Birchover is based on the VW T6.1 and features the classic side kitchen with a rock ‘n’ roll-style bed layout, with either a pop-top or high-top roof and in SWB or LWB forms. The Birchover is available at three price points – the Birchover S is our entry level model while the Birchover Executive is – as the name suggests – top of the range. The Classic sits in the middle, and is a great all-round camper and daily driver.
Have you got any exciting new developments in the pipeline?
Yes, we certainly have, but can’t say too much at this early stage as it’s top secret and still under wraps! Keep an eye on our website for some exciting announcements to come in the near future…
What advice would you give to someone thinking about buying a campervan?
First and foremost, we’d recommend finding a manufacturer that has the right levels of safety approvals.
Building a campervan involves things like cutting the roof off, making holes for windows, fitting new travel seats and installing gas and electrics, so it’s really important to check this is done properly. Once you’ve found a converter that you feel comfortable and safe with, you can then work on getting the right layout and specification to suit your needs and style, of course.
What’s the most unusual question you’ve ever been asked by a customer?
Can my children sleep in the roof bed in the pop-top while I’m driving to Cornwall? (The answer is no, by the way. You should always ensure the pop-top roof is correctly closed before driving off!) In the main, we only get asked sensible questions, though.
What’s the best campervan trip you’ve personally undertaken?
Adrian says a trip to the Shetland and Orkney Isles with his wife and children in their Birchover Classic, before travelling back down the east coast of Scotland via Inverness, which was stunning. David owns a modified classic vee-dub and reckons any trip where it doesn’t break down is always memorable!
The Hillside Leisure range of campervans
Price from: £39,995
This is Hillside’s most popular camper and it won ‘Best campervan under £45k’ at last year’s Caravan and Motorhome Club’s Motorhome Design Awards.
The Birchover is based on the VW T6.1 with a tried-and-tested side kitchen layout and is available in a range of specification levels to suit all budgets. Prices start from £39,995 for a Birchover S, which is based on a T6.1 Startline with an 88bhp (90PS) engine.
The Birchover Classic starts at £49,495, while the range-topping Birchover Executive is priced from £51,995. Both come in Highline specification with a 108bhp (110PS) engine as standard.
Whichever Birchover you choose, you can expect the base vehicle to come with a good level of spec, while the campervan conversion features an RIB rear seat/bed with two three-point seatbelts, swivel cab seats, an integrated hob and sink unit, underslung water tanks, a compressor fridge/freezer and the choice of an SCA pop-top (with roof bed) or high-top.
Additional features that are optional on the S but standard on the Classic and Executive include a grill, Eberspächer diesel blown-air heating, hot water boiler, external shower point and a Dometic portable toilet. It’s also available in XL form, which is a long-wheelbase version, and the extra space allows for an oven.
Price from: £55,495
Hillside’s Hopton is built on the medium-wheelbase VW Crafter, which is ideal for anyone who loves the T6.1 but needs more space.
The Hopton boasts an ever-popular rear U-shaped lounge with a central table that’s ideal for lolling around on rainy days or enjoying a game of cards with friends. Come bedtime, the facing sofas can be used as twin single beds or combined to create a big double.
The central kitchen features plenty of mod cons, like a 90-litre fridge/freezer, a combined Smev oven and grill and a three-ring hob with two gas burners and one induction ring. Opposite is a fully enclosed and well-equipped washroom, which has a shower, washbasin and a fixed toilet.
Both cab seats swivel to make the most of the front of the vehicle, which is ideal if one of you gets up before the other, as it provides somewhere to sit with your morning cuppa. There’s plenty of on-board tech, too, like a diesel heater, hot water supply and a 20-litre LPG tank.
Price from: £52,795
This is based on the long-wheelbase VW T6.1 and features a rear washroom, central kitchen and two single RIB Neptune travel seats ahead of this, which convert to a pair of single beds, using the swivelled cab seats, come night-time (or can be pushed together to form a double).
As a result of this layout, the Cromford has a front-hinged pop-top (a high-top is also available) to allow more headroom in the washroom.
The Cromford has also undergone a few design tweaks this year. Previously, the cooker (oven/grill with hob above) and sink were opposite each other but these have now been combined into one unit, which frees up workspace where the sink used to be.
The fridge has been moved from floor level to waist height, which is more accessible and has created extra cupboard space.
The washroom has also been modified, as a space-saving sliding door replaces a bi-fold one and a washbasin, which can also be accessed from outside, has been added across the back of the campervan.
As with the Birchover, the Cromford benefits from Eberspächer diesel blown-air heating, pumped hot and cold water and an external shower point.
Chequers House, Chequers Lane, Derby, DE21 6AW