IWFBF publications

Following many years of research, including going column by column through every page of the IW Times, IW Observer, IW Mercury and IW County Press from the early 1800's to 1950, the first Volume of the History of Isle of Wight Firefighting 'Ready When Wanted' was published and available from Blurb in Spring 2018.

Since then a further seven volumes followed, each one corresponding to a chronological period of significance. The full set completes the story of firefighting development from 1850 to 1950. I find it hard to believe that there will ever be another one-hundred year period when the story of Isle of Wight firefighting will see such enormous change - from manually powered timber-encased engines through two World Wars, the creation and disbandment of the National Fire Service and the almost inevitable evolution of the Isle of Wight County Fire Brigade in 1948. 

Volume 1 - Ready When Wanted (1850-1899)

Ready When Wanted covers the period 1850-1899, with a few references to earlier events where it adds context to the story.

In addition to a chronology of events affecting Isle of Wight firefighting of the era the volume features;

  • The Light - the story of Captain James Dore of Sandown Fire Brigade
  • Newport Fire Brigade's botched pay dispute of 1892
  • The beginnings of the IWFBF and the early drill competitions
  • All the major fires that affected the Island in the late Victorian era

Click on the book cover image to access the Blurb sales page.

Volume 2 - From Victoria to the Armistice (1900-1918)

From Victoria to the Armistice tells the story of the new century, following the turn of the century and the return of firemen who'd served in South Africa during the Second Boer War, through the tentative decade until the arrival of the Great War and its substantial impact on the Island's fire brigades.

Special features include;

  • The Fireman of the Karoo
  • Fire in War
  • The debacle of the Ryde Police-Fire Brigade

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Volume 3 - The Beginning of the End (1919-1938)

The Beginning of the End covers the tumultuous period between the two wars. During this period major advances in firefighting technology were to become normal on the Island, such as motor driven fire appliances, breathing apparatus and the exchange of the classic brass fireman's helmet for non-conductive materials - and for good reason.

Special features include;

  • The Roots of the Branch
  • A Fatal End for Brass
  • Man would be nothing without the horse
  • The Freshwater Rover Scouts Fire Brigade

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Volume 4 - A Calf With Two Heads (1939)

Volume 4 is dedicated to just one year of firefighting history, such is the amount of content available, unsurprisingly, as the fire brigades were joined by hundreds of auxiliary firemen and preparations for war were well under way. Coupled to them were the burgeoning ranks of the Air Raid Precautions organisation who undertook many of the tasks that years later were also to become the preserve of the fire service, such as technical rescues and measures to deal with hazardous materials.

This fascinating twelve months includes;

  • National Service - the local effect
  • Division of the Island into ARP districts
  • The final IWFBF drill competition
  • Expansion of the Auxiliary Fire Service

Click on the book cover image to access the Blurb sales page.

Volume 5 - The Road is Long and Narrow (1940)

Volume 5 The Road is Long and Narrow covers the first full year of the Second World War - the long deceiving drag of the Phoney War, and then the sudden reality of what it meant to be attacked from the air.

Special features include;

  • Confusion and Co-ordination
  • Sons of the Empire
  • Nothing but Thunder
  • Christmas... knife and fork drill

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Volume 6 - The End of the Brigades (1941)

Volume 6 The End of the Brigades has at its centrepiece the explanation for the title - the absorption of all provincial fire brigades and the Auxiliary Fire Service into one countrywide firefighting formation - the National Fire Service.

The impact was no less significant on the Isle of Wight than it was elsewhere. 

Special features include;

  • Shadow of Death
  • Launch of the NFS
  • Hande Hoch!
  • A Ghastly Waking Nighmare
  • Onward and Upward
  • So Why Worry?

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Volume 7 - As Severe a Test (1942-1943)

This volume more than any other tells the story of Isle of Wight firefighters and their colleagues in the wider Civil Defence services being pushed to limits never experienced before or since.

With a major chapter of the book of more than eighty pages dedicated to the horror and heroism of the Cowes Blitz, chapter features include;

  • Accidental Death
  • The Enemy - Part One
  • Freshwater Has Fallen
  • Harbinger
  • Why Has Time Erased the Faces?
  • Perhaps the end of the beginning
  • The Army Hitler forgot
  • The Dark Sunday
  • With Hell Let Loose
  • The Enemy - Part Two
  • Up, up with the British Empire
  • The Modest Commander

Click on the book cover image to access the Blurb sales page.

Volume 8 - Beyond Victory (1944-1950)

The final volume of Isle of Wight firefighting history follows the fortunes of the Island and its brigades through the final events of the war and into the peace that followed up to, and beyond to the creation of the island's first County Fire Brigade.

Special feature chapters include;

  • Utmost Secrecy
  • Second Front Firemen
  • The end of the Federation
  • '999'
  • The Most Brief of Commands
  • The Battle for East Cowes
  • Sixty Days Without Rain
  • Knock off, make up

Click on the book cover image to access the Blurb sales page.

My War Diary, by Colin Weeks

The war diary of Colin Weeks, teenaged fireman of Ryde during the Second World War, was the item that inspired research into Isle of Wight firefighting history when I discovered his original diary in a pile of old documents at Ryde Fire Station in the late winter of 1996.

Following a brief introduction from me, the book proceeds with scanned images of Colin's original typescript pages until it ends mid-sentence on the final page.

Then follows an explanation of why he never finished the diary, and how this compelled me to discover more and tell his story.

Click on the book cover image to access the Blurb sales page.

Corra books - why publish through Blurb?

Many people have asked me why I produce Corra branded books through the Blurb publishing service. I appreciate that books from Blurb are generally priced higher than comparable publications available in High Street retailers, and that each purchase attracts an unwelcome post and packaging fee.

My reasons for doing so are explained below, which also explains why local book shops, which are normally willing to have an area featuring books by local authors, are not willing to stock my books as there's insufficient profit in it for them.

  • I have great faith in Blurb's production quality and their freely available software that allows me to not only control the content but have complete control over the layout, artwork and appearance of every production.
  • The Blurb philosophy enables people that have a story to tell to reach their intended audience without being scrutinised commercially by third parties with no interest but profit. This is vitally important when producing books of a niche local appeal.
  • Blurb allows me to set a fixed profit per purchase that creates funds for the Firefighters Charity. Although Blurb's base costs may fluctuate with the availability of materials and production costs, the donation to the Charity per purchase remains the same. 
  • The only investment by me is the time, effort and personal cost in researching, writing and assembling the electronic plan for the content of each publication. I do not recoup the personal costs from the profits. This began as a hobby that I've shared with others in a manner that creates funds for the Firefighters Charity who assisted me and my family when we needed them, and I'm happy with that, and after all I'm a firefighter not a businessman.
  • Nowhere in the world is there a row of shelves loaded with my books waiting to be ordered and distributed. Accordingly there is no risk of capital investment by me or any third party and no unnecessary waste of production resources and materials. Every book ordered is a bespoke item which unfortunately is reflected in the cost, but it ensures that my dealings in the commercial world are as clean, green and waste free as it could possibly be.
  • A good friend of mine who is a successful businessman once suggested to me that there could be commercial benefits from adopting a more business-like model. I don't doubt him for one second as he knows his field, but it's not mine and I don't want an enthralling hobby with a philanthropic objective to be overshadowed by commercial targets and stresses.


I hope you appreciate my reasons and I apologise that this dictates a greater cost to you as the customer but please do so in the knowledge that when buying an IWFBF publication you are helping members of the fire and rescue service family and at the same time not supporting mass production and waste.

Please be assured that all profits from every book sale is forwarded to the Firefighters Charity. Thank you for your support.

Damon Corr

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