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Vintage lorry hearse for funeral

PUBLISHED: 11:49 12 February 2009 | UPDATED: 13:00 03 July 2010

The body of John Croft is taken to Gorleston Crematorium on the back of a lorry

The body of John Croft is taken to Gorleston Crematorium on the back of a lorry

Dominic Bareham

FORMER lorry driver John Croft's final journey was made on a form of transport he would have loved - a vintage flat bed truck.

His coffin and floral tributes were placed gently on a vintage 1953 Beaver lorry and driven to Gorleston Crematorium, passing his home in Palgrave Road, Great Yarmouth along the route.

Dominic Bareham

FORMER lorry driver John Croft's final journey was made on a form of transport he would have loved - a vintage flat bed truck.

His coffin and floral tributes were placed gently on a vintage 1953 Beaver lorry and driven to Gorleston Crematorium, passing his home in Palgrave Road, Great Yarmouth along the route.

The Beaver was hired from Bradford-Upon-Avon firm, Vintage Lorry Funerals, and not surprisingly, the unusual cortege attracted inquisitive glances from passers-by as it weaved its way through the town's streets.

Mr Croft's son-in-law Carl Leech said the family had hired the truck because it was the history enthusiast's wish that he be carried to his rest by one of the five wheel lorries.

Mr Leech said: “The family and myself were following the truck in cars and we could see there were an awful lot of people stopping and staring as we went passed. I was surprised at the number of youngsters looking on. We think he would have been delighted with the send off, it was his wish to go on a five wheeler.”

The former Yeadon, Yorkshire, man died at the age of 71 at the home he shared with his son Michael and granddaughter Rachel, on January 25, after suffering a heart attack following a night out at Yarmouth greyhound stadium.

Mr Croft started working for the haulage company, F and H Croft, named after his father and uncle Herman, from an early age, delivering woollen bales to the mills in a wheelbarrow and then horse and cart.

By the time he was 14, he had graduated to the Beaver lorries. In those days, the staff used to have to load and unload the woollen bales by hand and started the engines using a handle on the front of the truck.

A trip to London to deliver woollen bales for use in the textile industry could take a day to complete and there were no clean service stations where drivers could pull in for a quick bite to eat - all food was instead kept in the cab and heated on the engine manifold cover where it came into the cab.

The lorry used for the funeral had completed a nine hour journey to reach Yarmouth from the West Country.

After leaving F & H Croft, John went on to work for shipping company P&O before moving to Yarmouth in 1987 with his wife Jacqui, who died five years ago.

His daughter Lisa, said: “He was a carefree, but quiet man. When I told some of his workmates at P&O of his death, they joked about how they used to try and rile him up and get him to swear.

“He was very astute and used to take everything in, but he always game for a laugh and always in the thick of things.”

As well as Michael and Lisa, John had two other children, Nigel and Donna, and eight grandchildren.

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