Fireman John Phillips of Sandown Fire Brigade passed away at his home, 27 St John's Road, Sandown, on 3 January 1920 aged 67.
John was born circa 1853 to his parents George (labourer) and Elizabeth. He ended up as the fourth child of ten in total; four brothers and five sisters. The 1871 Census evidences the family living at Church Road, Sandown, and now aged 18 John was working as a painter.
In 1878 he married Elizabeth and the 1891 Census listed them living at 2 Laurel Cottages, George Street, with four sons aged 11, 9, 7, and 4 and a 2 year old daughter. By this time John had served in the fire brigade for ten years and was one of the prominent members of the most proficient of Island fire brigades. In the 1895 IWFBF drill competition at Shanklin's County Ground he was one of the Sandown men to compete for the first award of the Battenburg Challenge Cup, unsuccessfully on this occasion, but earlier in the day alongside his colleagues Charles Dennett and Jonas Newbury, he claimed a winners medal for the three-man drill.
Records suggest that he retired from the brigade in 1906, however the photograph bearing his name (above) shows him posing next to the brigade's steam fire-engine Primus in Vectis which wasn't on the run until February 1907. It is known that after retirement he was appointed Honorary Fireman, a privilege that would have allowed him to attend drills and fires at his leisure. Naturally the arrival of the new machine would have been of great interest to the honorary fireman.
Evidently he was a popular and busy man in the life of the town, holding membership of the Culver Lodge of Oddfellows and for many years devoting his efforts to the work of the St John Ambulance Brigade. For nearly half a century he was a faithful member of the United Methodist Church, serving as trustee for a fair proportion of that time.
At his funeral Firemen White, Draper, Nicholas and Dyer bore his coffin to the grave followed in procession by Chief Officer Billups with Second Officer W. Dennett and the remainder of the brigade, plus many representatives from both Shanklin and Ventnor brigades.
The County Press remarked; Sandown has lost a well-known resident, who had done a good deal of quiet public service.
Rest in peace Fireman Phillips.