Fireman Jonas Newbery of Sandown Fire Brigade passed away on 22 September 1927 aged 66.
Jonas, who was born in Sandown, first appears in official records aged 19 when the 1881 Census was taken. At the time he shared Albert Cottage with his 77 year old grandfather James and earned a living as an upholsterer.
He joined Sandown Fire Brigade in 1889. Serving under the influential and progressive Captain James Dore, Jonas would have been one of the first Island firemen to have claimed membership of the National Fire Brigades Union and by the 1890's the brigade were regular visitors to mainland events. In the meantime he'd married Mary Ann Jacobs in 1886 and by the time of the 1891 Census they had two children Ellen (2 years) and Bertha (2 months). Home was 1 Victoria Cottages in Sandown's North Street. Jonas's census entry expanded on his trade as upholsterer with the addition of French polisher. His trade was mainly in the employ of William Garland at his High Street premises although later he worked for his brigade colleague William Dennett.
By now Jonas was firmly established as a prominent member of the brigade who featured in many of their competition teams, most notably winning with his colleagues both the two and three-man drills at the IWFBF competition at Shanklin in 1895 and being part of Sandown's Battenburg Cup winning team at Ventnor Park three years later.
In whatever spare time remained Jonas maintained active membership of St John's Ambulance, the Rechabites, and was a popular bass singer with the Seven Brothers choir. He was also a life governor of the IW County Hospital, going to great lengths to secure the funds necessary to keep the hospital operational.
Captain Dore's Annual Report of 1914 stated that Jonas retired from the brigade in that year after 25 years service. However Dore's report of 12 months later reveals that Jonas returned as Temporary Active Fireman, one of many retired Island firemen who resumed firefighting duties when the brigades were stripped of their young men by the demands of the war. Throughout this period home remained in North Street although when the 1911 Census was taken Jonas was inexplicably to be found at the home of the evidently wealthy Sutton family in Tunbridge Wells.
Jonas's return to the brigade extended far beyond the war and records suggest that he remained a member at the time of his death. It can be estimated that his total service was in the region of 38 years. For eight years prior to his passing he was the verger of St John's Church where he had sung in the choir for 30 years.
Jonas passed away at home, 10 North Street, with his family around him on the morning of Thursday 22 September 1927.
Rest in peace Fireman Newbery.