THOUSANDS of people yesterday turned out to pay their respects at the funeral procession of Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union leader Bob Crow, who died of a heart attack on 11 March.
Trade unionists were among the crowds which lined the route from near the 52-year-old’s home in Woodford, east London, to the City of London Cemetery in Manor Park.
Mr Crow’s coffin was transported in a horse-drawn carriage, in traditional East End style.
The four horses were dressed in blue and white plumage, the colours of Mr Crow’s beloved Millwall Football Club. Large floral tributes, also in blue and white, were placed around his coffin.
Posters featuring a photograph of Mr Crow were also displayed at Tube stations across the city.
Hundreds of union banners were displayed along the route, alongside flags from groups such as the Stop The War
Coalition, which Mr Crow supported.
A huge banner at the gates of the cemetery, held up by RMT members, read: “Bob Crow 1961 – 2014. RIP Legend”.
Paul Kenny, leader of the GMB union, said: “Bob was a remarkable fighter for working people, but he was also passionate about protecting the health and safety of the public, which he never got any credit for.
“The union movement – in fact the whole country – will be a duller place without him.”
RMT president Peter Pinkney said: “Bob’s death leaves a
massive gap in the lives of everyone who was fortunate enough to know him and represents a huge loss to the Labour
movement both in this
country and internationally, and specifically, for the RMT members Bob led with such stunning success.”
Left-wing groups including the Socialist Party and National Shop Stewards Network, also turned out on the route to pay their respects.
RMT members travelled from across the UK to attend, many carrying posters bearing the message: “Bob Crow: our leader, our legend. Farewell comrade.”
Roses were thrown at the coffin and some sang the Internationale, a left-wing anthem.
The funeral service was private, at the request of Mr Crow’s family.
Speaking outside the funeral, former colleague Stan Goodwin, who met Mr Crow when he was aged 16, said the turn-out was “phenomenal”.
He said: “I’ve been to quite a few funerals of general secretaries but I’ve never seen anything like this.
“It just shows you how much he was liked and he was one of the most sincere people I’ve ever come across.
“He was hands on and he knew how to communicate with people. That’s why he was so good at what he did.”
Another former union colleague Jim Curran said: “He was unique. He consistently and persistently remained loyal to his principles that he believed in.”
Tributes to Mr Crow will also be paid on May Day, with a special event planned in London.