Percy Edgar Tilbury passed away on 18 January 1961 aged 72.

 

Percy was born in Cowes on 14 February 1888. His father Charles was a Pier Porter from Winchester and his mother was Ann of Cowes. By the time of the 1901 Census the family were living at 65 St Mary's Road. Percy was the second eldest of six brothers and one sister and at 12 years old was working as an Errand Boy for J.S. White's. Around the same time he began a long association with the fire service by serving as a Cowes Fire Brigade messenger; one of the vital knocker-ups that ensured firemen were alerted to emergencies. The date at which he graduated to the status of fireman isn't known but his service was well documented in the pages of the local Press through the next few decades.

Ten years later he was still living with his parents, siblings and an additional brother and sister but was now working as a blacksmith. A year later he married Lydia Mary Mitchell in Cowes. In 1915 they were to have a son Percy Harold Fletcher Tilbury and in 1917 a daughter Lydia Edna May Tilbury.

Lydia senior passed away in 1933 and five years later Percy married Ethel Alice Chapman as the couple both approached their fiftieth birthday's. The 1939 Register located the couple living at 24 Fellows Road and Percy is listed as both crane driver and fireman. 

Percy was a keen footballer and a great servant of Cowes Football Club, remaining behind after his playing days were over to serve as both trainer and committee member for forty years. By the 1930's he was Cowes Fire Brigade's Second Officer and served in that post until the brigade was merged into the National Fire Service in August 1941. 

His NFS service lasted only a few months before he was required to relinquish the post in order to take over as Chief Officer of the J.S. White's Works Fire Brigade in 1942 where he was also the gatekeeper. 

He retired from both roles at White's in 1960 at which point his son Percy Harold Fletcher succeeded him as White's Chief Officer in addition to serving as Sub Officer at Cowes Fire Station of the IW County Fire Brigade. However retirement wasn't entirely to Percy seniors liking and he remained a relief gatekeeper, covering his sons duties when required.

It was in the gatehouse to the Pelham Road entrance to the site that he suddenly collapsed and passed away on Wednesday 18 January 1961. His funeral at St Faith's Church was attended by an overwhelming number of the Island's fire services including members of the pre-war brigades, the wartime AFS and NFS, J.S. Whites Works Fire Brigade and the post-war County Fire Brigade including Chief Officer Richard Fitzmaurice Sullivan.

 

Rest in peace Chief Officer Tilbury.