Fireman John Eldridge of Ryde Fire Brigade passed away on 10 October 1926 aged 78.
John was born in Ryde, 27 December 1847 and married Emma Dawkins of Highbury, London, on 2 September 1871, with whom he had two children, Florence and Frederick.
No records exist to indicate when John joined the fire brigade but it is known that he served for 22 years. Following a fire at Dr Hasting's home of Lansdowne House in John Street, in 1882, the doctor rewarded John with five shillings for having recovered his watch from the flames.
He served the town's Corporation for over fifty years in various roles, beginning his official capacities two years before the incorporation of the borough in 1868. During that time he was understudy to Henry Buckett (Captain of the brigade) in concurrent roles as assistant Town Crier and assistant keeper of the Town Hall. At differing times he fulfilled the roles of Water Inspector and Inspector of Nuisances; a role somewhat different from the perception of nuisances today, his tasks being to inspect sanitary conditions, smells, gutters, refuse heaps etc., and where necessary to distribute disinfectant to ensure the cleansing of houses affected by disease.
In his spare time, of which it can't be imagined there was much, he managed to serve with the Rifle Volunteers for a total of 31 years. A substantial article appeared in the County Press on the occasion of John and Emma's 50th wedding anniversary. John's employment with the Corporation ended just four years before his death.
The respect he had cultivated was evident at his funeral service at St James's Church six days later as it was attended by the Mayor and Mayoress, Mr and Mrs Rowland Russell, the Deputy Mayor and his wife and a substantial representation from the elected members.
Several members of the old Volunteers attended along with 'A' Company of the Isle of Wight Rifles who ensured his coffin was draped with the Union Jack and decorated with floral tributes.
Rest in peace Fireman Eldridge.