Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs's funeral takes place
- 3 January 2014
- From the section London
The funeral of Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs, complete with a Hell's Angels guard of honour and a floral two-fingered salute, has taken place.
Ahead of the service, Biggs' coffin travelled from Barnet to Golders Green Crematorium accompanied by 13 members of the motorcycle club.
Mourners included Biggs' son Michael, gangland celebrity author Dave Courtney and former gangster Freddie Foreman.
The robber, infamous for his 30 years on the run, died in December aged 84.
When he was last seen in public, at the funeral of fellow Great Train Robber Bruce Reynolds, Biggs stuck two fingers up at journalists.
A floral display of the salute travelled in the back of the hearse, behind Biggs' coffin which was draped with a Charlton Athletic scarf, a union jack and the flag of Brazil, the country where he spent many years as a fugitive.
Ronald Arthur "Ronnie" Biggs, who spent more than three decades on the run, had been living at Carlton Court Care Home in East Barnet after suffering several strokes in recent years.
His carers at the home were among those who joined the funeral procession.
'Dust to the beach'
A six-piece Dixie band also joined the cortege for the final part of the journey to the crematorium, playing songs including When the Saints Come Marching In and When You're Smiling.
Floral tributes at the crematorium included one from Charles Bronson, one of the country's longest-serving prisoners, who sent a bouquet containing an old ten-bob note with the words "Ronnie Biggs RIP" scrawled across it.
Leading the service, Rev Dave Tomlinson said: "People have asked me 'How can you take part in the funeral of a Great Train Robber?'
"What we need to remember is that Jesus didn't hang out with hoity-toity folk, he just treated people as people."
Michael Biggs paid tribute to this father, saying that he "always had a way of looking at things and saying something that was fair and often funny".
He said Biggs had "embraced the culture" of Brazil after arriving there and become a "carioca, someone from Rio".
"He always had a soft spot for the underdog and he considered himself to be one, he always had a few pennies for the street beggars.
"He spoke the lingo and enjoyed the samba."
He added that the congregation should "celebrate his life with a proper booze up later on, ashes to ashes and dust to the beach".
Biggs was part of the gang which escaped with £2.6m from the Glasgow to London mail train on 8 August 1963.
Train driver Jack Mills was struck over the head during the robbery and never worked again. He died in 1970.
Biggs was given a 30-year sentence for his part in the theft but escaped from Wandsworth prison in 1965.
In 2001, he returned to the UK seeking medical help but was sent to prison. He was released on compassionate grounds in 2009 after contracting pneumonia.