Chief Officer William Arthur Spencer

Chief Officer William Arthur Spencer of Shanklin Fire Brigade passed away on 25 March 1940 aged 74.

 

William and his wife Emily suffered the tragedy of losing their son Harry while serving in Mesopotamia during the First World War, their other son Alfred also served in Shanklin's brigade before relocating to Sandown and working for the East Wight Gas Company. They also had four daughters.

By trade William was a carpenter and the following describes his commitment to work; in the 1888-90 restoration of Yaverland Church he would leave home while it was still dark, walk from Shanklin to Newchurch to check in with his employer and then carry his tools from there to Yaverland to begin work; then reverse the process in the evening.

He served the Shanklin brigade for nearly forty years, initially as fireman and then foreman, winning many medals in drill competitions over the years both on the Island and mainland. He was awarded a 10 year service medal in 1899. In April 1915 after many years as understudy to Captain/Chief Officer Rayner he was appointed temporary-acting Chief Officer while the Town Council considered restructuring the brigade. Subsequently his appointment was made permanent and the last time he was noted for a public engagement in that capacity was at the occasion of the funeral of Sandown's Chief Officer James Dore in November 1925.

For many years after he remained in the supernumerary role of Honorary Chief Officer. His last public engagement in that role was at the August 1938 funeral of one of his former colleagues John Matthews.

On the day of William's funeral, four days after his death at home 9 Western Road, his coffin was born on Shanklin's motor fire-engine to the Congregational Church and from there to the cemetery. A mass of chief officers and firemen from all over the county attended, the coffin bearers being all from Shanklin; Fireman G. Harvey, Fireman W. Henstridge, Fireman R. Gregory, Fireman A. Perkins, Fireman E. Carpenter and Fireman W. Kingswell.

Rest in peace Chief Officer Spencer.