Hundreds in funeral procession for ‘King of Roman Road Market’ Brian Baker
PUBLISHED: 18:10 15 August 2018 | UPDATED: 15:39 16 August 2018
Nadia Jane Photography [contributed for free editorial use]
One of east London’s biggest-ever horse-drawn funerals paraded through the streets for the funeral of ‘the king of Roman Road Market’ with nearly 300 mourners.
The procession had 15 horses for Brian Baker’s funeral route from his Ilford home at Chudleigh Crescent along the Barking Road for his burial at East London Cemetery in Plaistow.
The horse-drawn carriages of mourners were followed by a fleet of limos with market traders from all over east London and Essex.
Brian, who died last month aged 77, was a wheelwright known in the street market trade for making and hiring out wheelbarrows and stalls.
His wheelwright business was started by his grandfather Leonard in the Roman Road back in 1920. But the family also has a strong tradition in horses.
Brian’s youngest son Danny, 41, a carriage-master from Chelmsford, drove the horse carriage that carried his coffin on his last journey.
“I took him on his old show carriage which he loved,” Danny explained. “I vowed to take dad out on that carriage.
“The cemetery said it was the largest horse-drawn funeral procession they’d ever had.”
He drove the carriage with two grey shire horses, while four shires pulled the two floral carriages behind and four black Friesians drew mourners’ carriages. Two more black Friesians carried outriders and three cobs pulled three carts carrying the flowers.
The carriage carrying Brian’s coffin was built in Bethnal Green in 1900 and originally used by Brooke Bond warehouse in Whitechapel to deliver crates of tea.
Brian found it abandoned and rotting away at the Mile End Lock on the Regent’s Canal in 1969 and bought it for £2 from lock-keeper and restored it as a showpiece for his market stall business.
The business was started in his grandfather Leonard’s workshop off Roman Road in 1920. Leonard originally drove horse-trams out of Bow Garage at the turn of the 20th century before going into the wheelwright trade.
The love of horses continues down to the fourth and fifth generation, with carriage-master Danny’s three sons.
Brian Baker “the king of the market wheelbarrows” was buried on Monday alongside his wife Margaret.