Scoutmaster Wilfred Jeffrey, front and centre of the Freshwater Rover Scouts Fire Brigade

Scoutmaster Wilfred Jeffrey, effective captain of Freshwater Rover Scouts Fire Brigade, passed away on 24 July 1952 aged 73.


Wilfred originated from Birmingham and moved to Freshwater in 1900. He was a founding partner of Honnor and Jeffrey seed and coal merchants. He became leader of the Rover Scouts in 1914 and was highly active in many facets of community life; he was awarded for long service in the Rocket Life Saving Apparatus team, as a member of the Royal Life Saving Society he taught countless persons how to swim and during the Second World War was superintendent of the Freshwater brigade of the St John Ambulance. He was also involved with other schemes for the benefit of the County Hospital, Congregational Church and many others.

In 1928 there remained no fire-fighting force west of Newport, for decades reliance had been placed on a response from the military establishments who had begun to withdraw their hitherto limitless support and many properties had burned to the ground with no response at all.

On 8 May that year the Rover Scouts, young men of 17 to 24, offered themselves up as the West Wight's first fire brigade and the local Council leapt upon the offer with enthusiasm.

By 19 July the brigade was equipped (albeit sparsely), drilled and carried out a much admired display at a school fete in Calbourne with Scoutmaster Jeffrey. He was never formally granted (and probably never sought) the title of 'Captain' or 'Chief Officer' of the fire brigade but certainly fulfilled the role as its Scoutmaster and the fledgling brigade performed meritoriously at a number of incidents and most notably within their first twelve months when the Palace Picture Theatre at School Green burned furiously on the night of 26 May 1929. Newport's seasoned firemen were highly complimentary of the work done by the Rover Scouts before and after their arrival.

In the County Press article remarking on his death the writer stated "Mr Jeffrey was a man of great personal integrity and kindliness".

Rest in peace Scoutmaster Jeffrey.