Tributes have come rolling in following the death of Whitehaven and Workington Town legend Eppie Gibson.

Mr Gibson was described as 'rugby royalty' by Whitehaven chairman Tommy Todd after he died peacefully on Thursday, surrounded by his family, at the age of 90.

He was part of the Workington Town side that lifted the Challenge Cup against Featherstone in 1952 at Wembley. He was also in the 1955 Challenge Cup final only on this occasion he was to collect a loser’s medal despite scoring a try against Barrow.

And he was Haven coach when they took on the mighty Wakefield at the Recreation Ground in the Challenge Cup third round in front of 18,650 fans, a club record that still stands today.

Wakefield won the game 21-10 and went on to lift the cup beneath the twin towers.

"He was one of that rare breed who was a player, a player/coach, a coach and also a director," said Mr Todd.

"He was a magnificent player for both Workington Town and Whitehaven and well respected at both clubs.

"He will never be forgotten at Whitehaven for the 1960 game against Wakefield when we had the record crowd. It is a game that has gone down in folklore and will never be replicated.

"He took the club to its highest ever league position when we finished sixth in a league against the likes of Wigan, St Helens, Warrington, playing the big clubs week in and week out.

"Eppie was dedicated to both Workington and Whitehaven. When you talk about Cumbrian rugby league players he falls into the royalty bracket, alongside the likes of Gus Risman, Brian Edgar, Paul Charlton, Boxer Walker and Jim Brough."

A Workington Town statement on Twitter read: "We are so sorry to hear that Eppie Gibson has passed away.

"A Town Hall of Famer and Challenge Cup winner who is a legend at our club -not only for his contribution to rugby league but to education in our community.

"Our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends. RIP friend."

Following his Army demob in 1949 from the 1st Battalion East Lancashire Regiment, in which he won rugger and athletics honours, Mr Gibson was to return to teaching for a career spanning 37 years, mostly at Hensingham’s Overend School and before that at Thornhill, where his wife Marie later became head teacher.

He began his professional career aged just 19 with Town in 1947 and spent 10 years with the club before joining Whitehaven as player coach.

The Ellenborough-raised centre scored 145 tries in 335 games for Town, and was in the England side by the age of 20 in a meteoric rise to the top.

He was inducted into the Hall of Fame at Workington and in 1998 he was named as a member of the Whitehaven Immortals on the 50th anniversary of the club’s formation.

Mr Gibson leaves behind his wife Marie, daughters Susan and Helen and grandchildren.