A friend of Bob Crow for 25 years has said the trade union leader “will never be replaced.”

Mr Crow, the general secretary of the Rail Maritime and Transport union (RMT), died from a heart attack yesterday morning.

Mr Crow, who lived in Woodford Green, died at Whipps Cross Hospital, Leytonstone, at around 7am at the age of 52.

Terry Hutt, 78, of the Waltham Abbey Pensioner’s Action Group, first met Mr Crow on a train to London 25 years ago.

Mr Hutt is famous in the area for his activism and wears a different badge for each campaign he takes part in, while also sporting his distinctive umbrella hat. 

He said: “He was very interested in my badges and we chatted on got on very well.

“We started to meet up at a lot of meetings and he would always say, ‘Hello Comrade, what are you up to now?’

“We always talked about our children and asked how they were doing.”

Mr Crow let the Waltham Abbey Pensioner’s Action Group meet in a room at the RMT headquarters every month.

He added: “Bob Crow and I really got close over the years – I have got so many pictures of him and me. He always found time for everybody.

“My wife always thought he was a naughty boy because he always spoke his mind. But people like him are my heroes – for what they stood for.

“They believe in people’s rights - he will never be replaced.

“He was a very likeable person and very down to earth. He always had something to chat about.

Mr Hutt, now a Cambridge resident, but previously lived in Paternoster Hill, Waltham Abbey, last saw Mr Crow three weeks ago.

He added: “He looked pretty well and I asked him why, and he said he’d lost a bit of weight.

“I cannot believe that he is dead.”