Tributes paid to well-loved Romford market fruit-seller

Jacko and Babe

John Edward Thomas Port and dog Babe were well known in Romford Market - Credit: Jay Cunningham- Pierce

A Romford fruit seller of 70 years has died aged 94. 

John Edward Thomas Port, known as Jacko, owned a fruit stall at Romford Market since the 1970s. 

John Edward Thomas Port and brothers

John Edward Thomas Port and his brothers worked in Romford their whole lives - Credit: Jay Cunningham- Pearce

Grandson Jay Cunningham-Pearce described his grandfather as a "wind-up merchant", saying he would joke around with children and his customers. 

He said: “He was quite the character, the kind of which Romford and its market will never see again. 

“Everyone knew him, and the market was his whole life. 


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“He always had a lovely stall, very well presented.” 

Jay Cunningham- Pierce

Jay Cunningham- Pierce said his grandad dedicated his life to Romford Market - Credit: Jay Cunningham- Pierce

Jacko, who passed away from Alzheimer's, only retired a few years ago and loved his work selling fruit. 

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“The Port and Pearce families have been one of those families on the market forever,” Jay explained. 

“We’re a proper market family, and are well-known within the community.” 

Jacko on his 89th birthday

Jacko on his 89th birthday - Credit: Jay Cunningham- Pearce

Jack's dog Babe was also famous within the market, and Jay said she never left his granddad’s side and would ride on his shoulder in the lorry. 

Born on December 30, 1926, as a young boy Jacko would help his father trade horses at what used to be the Romford cattle market. 

John in army

Jack served in the army in the early 1940s - Credit: Jay Cunningham- Pierce

He was one of seven brothers and two sisters, all of whom were born and raised in Romford. 

Jacko

The family man had 22 grandchildren - Credit: Jay Cunningham- Pearce

Many of Jacko’s siblings -  Gelgie, Sylvia, Charlie, Kenny, Tony, George, Jerry and David - went on to own their own stalls and his son Steven ran a neighbouring vegetable stall. 

Eunice Port, Jacko’s long-term partner, also owned her own burger stall underneath a large Eun ‘n’ Jack banner, and the couple’s grandchildren would help out after school and during the holidays. 

Jacko with his daughter Carole (l) and son Steven, who owns a vegetable stall

Jacko with his daughter Carole (l) and son Steven, who owns a vegetable stall - Credit: Jay Cunningham- Pearce

Their daughter Lynette Grimwood recalled her father’s good nature. 

She explained: “He was just a real gentleman, never horrible to anyone. 

“Everyone loved him.” 

Jacko and Eunice

Jacko and partner Eunice both worked at the market - Credit: Jay Cunningham- Pierce

Jacko met Eunice when she already had six young children, and brought them up as his own. 

“His life revolved around work and my mum, he was infatuated by her,” Lynette added. 

“At the end, even when he was in a lot of pain, he was still worrying about her.” 

The family man had 22 grandchildren, 25 great grandchildren and six great great grandchildren. 

Jay and brother Sonny

Jay and brother Sonny will miss their beloved granddad - Credit: Jay Cunningham- Pierce

Jacko’s funeral, planned to take place on July 6, is expected to “bring the market to a standstill”. 

“Everyone knew him, and there’s going to be seven limos, horses and carriages going through the square to St Edward the Confessor Church”, Lynette added. 

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