Author Topic: Chief Officer Willsteed - the nation's oldest serving fireman?  (Read 203 times)

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Offline Chunty

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Chief Officer Willsteed - the nation's oldest serving fireman?
« on: November 07, 2023, 18:27:59 pm »
Ernest Willsteed served with Cowes Fire Brigade, Isle of Wight, from the mid-1880's until retiring in 1936, spending the lions share of that time as the brigade's Chief Officer. However, within a few months of his retirement Ernest's wife suddenly passed away and he found himself missing both her, and his service in the brigade. There was nothing he could to replace the former, but he could do something about the latter and was one of the first to volunteer for the Auxiliary Fire Service when local recruitment began in autumn 1938... at the age of 80! He continued in the service, remaining a member on formation of the National Fire Service in August 1941 until his death in October 1945 aged 87. At the time of his death local newspaper the Isle of Wight County Press eulogised his life of service to the town and wider island, and claimed that he was the oldest serving fireman in the nations history - I am yet to find a record of an older fireman to debunk that claim. I am now 56, still in the service and generally quite fit - but I can't imagine doing another 30 odd years!

Offline alkhamhills

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Re: Chief Officer Willsteed - the nation's oldest serving fireman?
« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2023, 10:36:21 am »
Ernest Willsteed
Born 30.7.1858 Billingham I O W
Married Jane H Whittington April 1882 I O W. She died Jan 1938
Buried 2.11.1945 Northwood Cemetery I O W

 Jan 1885 • Mill Hill, West Cowes, Isle of Wight
His first shout was a call to a serious fire involving a derelict windmill at Mill Hill. Although the Mill was derelict, it was still a shocking sight to the local population as fire ripped throughout its structure and the sails burned away

In 1889 Ernest was made Fire Brigade Superintendent April 1889

In 1939 Ernest, born 30.7.1858, widower
at 38 Granville Rd, Isle of Wight
With a Paid Housekeeper Mabel Jane Wilsteed(5.8.1882)
He was an Assistant Water Manager  & Auxiliary Fire Service