Superintendent John Langdon of Ryde Fire Brigade passed away on 13 February 1879 aged 51.
John was born in Ryde when the town was part of the Parish of Newchurch. The Census of 1841, when he was aged 13, places him living with his parents James and Elizabeth and five siblings. Twenty years later the 1861 Census shows him living in Player Street, Ryde, with his wife Mary (nee Granger Newman) whom he married on 3 May 1853 and earning a living as a builder in partnership. In the same year he became a member of the East Medina Lodge of Freemasons.
When Ryde's Fire Brigade was remodelled by the Board of Commissioners in early 1864 he was formally appointed to the role of Superintendent on 12 January; although prior to this he'd already taken charge at drill sessions. This role was to earn him five guineas per annum. Mr White of the Commissioners reminded all that the payment was a nominal one and didn't adequately reflect the importance of the role which should more formally be considered an Honorary title. At the same time the Town Crier, Henry Buckett, was appointed as the Brigade's Escape Conductor. The Isle of Wight Observer, anticipating Brigade improvement at the hands of Mr Langdon stated that; A little practice will, it seems, probably get the men into a high state of efficiency - a most desirable consummation for a growing town like Ryde.
In February of the following year Superintendent Langdon was congratulated on his command of the Brigade when called to a fire at East Cliff, Bembridge, where his direction of the men prevented a far worse occurrence than was originally anticipated.
In February of 1868 he was again lauded for quick action at a fire that threatened to destroy St Thomas's Church. However this came a few weeks after a fire in Primrose Cottage at the top of West Street where the Superintendent was frustrated by a lack of water, and was quick to alert the Board to that fact. Some members of the Board were convinced that the lack of water was due to frosting in the pipes but nevertheless at the Superintendent's insistence attention was paid to the matter of shutting off the water at certain times to reduce wastage.
For reasons undetermined in 1870 he resigned from the Fire Brigade. At the time he was 42 years of age and the Census of the following year suggests that he is now a successful building contractor employing 58 men.
By now he and Mary had produced eleven children, the fifth of which, Charles, was to later follow in his father's footsteps as commander of the fire brigade.
He met his premature death on 13 February 1879.
Rest in peace Superintendent Langdon.