Doncaster Restraint Museum Challenge
12th March 2022

Reported by Allan James Taylor


On Saturday March 12th, 2022, at 2pm at the Maple Tree Woodfield Plantation, Balby, Doncaster three members from the UKEA (United Kingdom Escape Artists) were challenged to perform a world’s first.

The Doncaster Restraint Museum challenged, Allan Taylor, Andrew Robertson and Tim Houlton to escape from a locked prison van whilst wearing UK regulation handcuffs, all under test conditions and controlled by a serving police office and master locksmith. They would be locked in brand new, unopened, sealed, regulation handcuffs, opened only by the Police officer, escorted into the van and locked into individual cells and then lastly locked into the van itself. All witnessed by the public and a volunteer who went inside the van to make sure all was secure. All in a timeframe of 20 minutes to coincide with the club’s 20th Anniversary. The DRM were quoted as saying the challenge was impossible and has never been performed anywhere in the world in full view of the public.

The UKEA is open to both professional and amateur escapologists, along with collectors and historians and is the only official escape group in the UK. Yes, we are just like the world-famous Harry Houdini.

The three escape artists who took on the challenge were:


Andy Robertson - Scotland’s award-winning Escape Artist and prison escape expert. Andy has escaped previously live on STV (Scottish Television) from the High Security cell at Peterhead Prison and has won every UK top award for escapes including escaping from an electric chair!

Tim Houlton - England’s award-winning Escape Artist and prison van escape expert. Tim has previously escaped from a prison van on his own for one of his past performances and has also won top UK award for his escapes.

Allan Taylor - England’s award-winning Escape Artist, Houdini Historian, and chairman of the UKEA. Allan has previously escaped from a double straitjacket and has also won every UK top award for escapology.

On the day the three prisoners were found sitting at the pub and were escorted over to the van and made to stand with their hands above their head, in full public view the police opened and checked the handcuffs, and each prisoner was cuffed and scanned to make sure they were not concealing any tools (cheeky Tim was found to have a mobile phone on him and that was quickly confiscated!). They were then escorted into the Transport van and locked into the cells. A member of the public was chosen to come and check the doors were secure and locked, the outside doors were also checked to make sure they were locked. Tick tock the timer started.

The van was rocking, with loud noises coming from the outside along with a few screams of pain and requests for help – could they escape? 6 minutes, 7 minutes, 8 minutes BOOM, a large explosion came from top of the van and a few seconds later Andy came running from the back door towards the front door, Allan bust out of the front door, and this was closely followed by Tim who came out of the top of the vehicle – all in 8 minutes and 44 seconds.


A world first, a world record, the DRM failed but the boys from the UKEA proved that this challenge wasn’t a match for their skills.


© Allan James Taylor, March 2022