Fireman John Matthews of Shanklin Fire Brigade passed away on Sunday 21 August 1938 aged 84.
John, who was more commonly known as Jack, was born in 1855, one source stating he was born in Brading and another suggesting he was born in a cottage in America Woods. His father, John senior, was the keeper for the Worsley family at Appuldurcombe.
He married Rose Emma Jane Corney in Sandown on 22 March 1877 and spent some time living in Rose's home town. The census of four years later shows that they now lived at Weston Villa in Shanklin. John worked in the building trade under his two brothers George and Henry before stepping out on his own account.
At the time of his death the Isle of Wight County Press remarked that he was one of the earliest members of Shanklin Fire Brigade; which was formally established in 1886 (see reference below to the pre-1886 brigade). However it was for his sporting prowess that he was most widely known. He was a capable oarsman, was cited to have been the best Island wicket keeper of his generation and enjoyed a fair reputation both in boxing and football and was selected to appear at County level in bowls. So blessed was he with good health and an extraordinary fitness late in to life that in 1911 at the age of 56 he was part of Shanklin F.C.'s Baring Cup winning team.
He served with the IW Rifle Volunteers and later the Voluntary Training Corps in addition to membership of the Shanklin Liberal Association where he was one of the original members of the Liberal Club.
Among his many fire brigade undertakings he was commended for his individual action at a fire at one Mr King's premises in Shanklin High Street in September 1889. In 1899 the Annual Report of the National Fire Brigades Union cited him alongside four of his Shanklin colleagues for receiving the Bronze Long Service medal. In January 1902 he was one of seven Shanklin firemen who, amid something of a split in the Brigade, signed a letter that was sent to the Town's councillors complaining about the imposition of the revised fire brigade rules and the manner of their implementation by Chief Officer Rayner. In September of the same year his cricketing prowess combined with his brigade membership when he scored twelve runs and bowled out five batsmen of Ventnor Fire Brigade in his team's drubbing of the hosts at Steephill.
On 20 February 1907 a firemen's reunion was held at the Clarendon Hotel in which six former members, and their guests, of Shanklin's pre-1886 volunteer fire brigade gathered together. John was among that number.
The 1911 census evidences that John and Rose are now living at East Lynne, St Paul's Avenue. There is no evidence of children in any of the census returns. Sometime after 1911 Rose passed away but John later remarried to Lydia Osborne from Kidderminster.
He passed away on Sunday 21 August after a sudden and serious downturn in health that began at Easter. His funeral was held at St Paul's where a guard of honour was formed by Chief Officer C.C. Matthews, Second Officer A.W. Mew and Firemen W. Spencer, H. Matthews, C. Henstridge, G. Harvey, A. Perkins, and R. Gregory. Former Chief Officer Rayner also attended.
Rest in peace Fireman Matthews.