JCB digger carries Bristol man Paul Nowicki's coffin

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Media captionThe first man to operate a JCB in Bristol was given a fitting send-off

The bucket of a JCB has carried a man's coffin in celebration of the belief he was the digger's first driver in Bristol.

Paul Nowicki, 90, who died earlier this month, first drove one of the vehicles in the late 1950s.

His son John said his father wanted a JCB to be used for the funeral and "did not want a huge religious ceremony".

He said his father was a "remarkable man" who was forced into the German army in World War Two or face death.

"At 17 years of age, when Germany invaded Poland, he was given the ultimatum to join the army or else his whole family would have gone to the death camps with the Jews," he said.

"If you were not a Jew but old enough to join the German army you had to do it.

"He was a hero. He saved the lives of 11 people - his mother, father, brothers and sisters."

Some other alternatives to a traditional hearse at funerals:

  • Military tank
  • Tandem bicycle
  • Vintage flatbed lorry
  • Volkswagen campervan
  • Fire engine
  • "Del Boy-style" Reliant three-wheeler


Mr Nowicki's coffin was driven from his home in the village of Pucklechurch near Bristol to Westerleigh Crematorium - a journey of about 1.5 miles (2.5 km).

Mr Nowicki arrived in the UK as an asylum seeker after the war, settling in Avonmouth, where he worked as a building labourer and started driving digging machinery for work.

"He was the first driver to operate a JCB - a JCB Dinkum - in Bristol, in about 1959," his son said.

"He was a very sought after driver. On one occasion the foundations of a property had to be dug right in the middle of a swamp.

"Everybody said it would be impossible, but my dad built a wooden bridge to sit the digger on and the job was done."

Image copyright John Nowicki
Image caption Paul Nowicki first drove a JCB in Bristol in about 1959

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