300 pack funeral of Repton boxing’s Charlie Burns, ‘king of Bacon Street’

They played ‘Apple Blossom Time’ at today’s funeral of the ‘king of Bacon Street’ in London’s East End—the Andrews Sisters’ 1940s hit had been Charlie Burns’ favourite during the Second World War when he served in North Africa and Italy.

St Mathew’s Church in Bethnal Green was packed with 300 mourners for the service for the former Repton Boxing Club’s president, who died last month aged 96.

The retired paper merchant, who was honoured last year by urban artist Ben Slow with a giant portrait on the wall of the recycling warehouse still run by his family in Bacon Street, had his own chapter in the Spitalfields Life book published just two months ago.

A Rolls Royce carried his coffin past the warehouse to his local parish church in St Matthew’s Row for last Thursday’s service.

“We hired the Rolls as a tribute to Dad,” said the youngest of his seven children, Bernard, 43. “It was his favourite—he used to drive one when he was young.”

Mourners included his four sons, three daughters, 17 grandchildren, six great-grandchildren and five great, great-grandchildren.

Charlie Burns was given the Freedom of the City of London after decades of collecting waste paper from offices for recycling.

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But he was more known for the bouts he staged at York Hall which attracted the famous and the infamous, including Judy Garland, Liberace and the Krays.

They played ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ as the coffin was carried out, for Charlie’s last journey in a Rolls to the City of London cemetery in Manor Park. He was buried alongside his wife Sarah, who died 25 years ago.

Family and friends later packed The George in Bethnal Green Road to celebrate the life and times of the king of Bacon Street.