SHOPS and businesses in a Darlington shopping street will fall silent in tribute to one of the town's most recognisable characters, who died suddenly this week.

Always immaculately turned out and never without his trademark fedora hat, Eamonn Segrave was known to many as the 'king of Grange Road'.

He died on Monday (August 25), aged 78.

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Funeral details are still to be confirmed, but Mr Segrave's friend Bill Gillow, who runs the Geoffrey Gillow clothes shop in Grange Road, said he has asked other shopkeepers to stop trading and pay their respects when the cortege drives past.

Mr Segrave leaves his partner of ten years Mary Kinneavy; sons Damian and Matthew, and daughters Sarah and Rachel from his marriage to the late Barbara, as well as eight grandchildren – Hannah, Jacob, Jessica; Lily, Iris; David; Matilda, Seamus; as well as Mary’s sons Ben and James.

A statement released by Mr Segrave's family said: "Many will remember his handshake which conveyed that immediate mix of warmth and firmness – a mark of the man himself.

"He expressed a sincere and generous care in all those around him whether friend, family or the waitress who brought him his lunch.

"An immense man of countless talents, his sudden passing from a heart attack on Monday morning has been a huge shock to his loving family and many friends."

Mr Segrave was born into a family of ten children in Drogheda, Ireland, on April 20, 1936, moving to England in 1954.

He used to run a gallery in Grange Road and had been a permanent fixture in Mr Gillow's shop for several years.

Mr Gillow said: "A lot of people thought he was the owner and I was the salesman – neither of us ever corrected them.

"He was always impeccably turned out, he would not come out without a shirt, jacket, tie and hat.

"He was charming, he was a gentleman, he was a real one-off."

Mr Segrave worked at the original Burtons tailors in Lancashire, before being called up to National Service in 1959

There he applied his renowned culinary and tailoring skills and was appointed head of staff to the unit General.

Held in such high esteem by the General, Mr Segrave received a visit from him in hospital while recovering from Asian flu – much to the astonishment of fellow soldiers.

A base in York allowed him the occasional visit to the races, where he would bet on Irish horses and jockeys, as well as an opportunity to attend York School of Art.

His taste and knowledge were put to direct use when he opened Gallery 23, in Grange Road, Darlington, in 1986.

His appetite for art also fed his passion for travel.

He and Mary were due to embark on a Mediterranean cruise next month and, just the day before his passing, they had enjoyed their weekly drive to Yorkshire.