The Isle of Wight Observer published on October 29th, 1853 describes a fire in Ryde and is less than complimentary about the fire brigade’s performance. The insurers paid out quickly though!
FIRE – A fire broke out at No. 2, Brigstock Terrace, the residence of Capt. and Miss Christian, on Wednesday morning at one o’clock, which threatened destruction to the whole pile of buildings. It appears that Miss Christian, who was suffering severely from faceache, had retired to rest, but in getting up to seek relief had fainted and fallen, and the candle set fire to the valence. Half suffocated, she aroused and gave alarm. The fire engines were sent for, and then ensued that confusion which we always expected would arise upon such an emergency. There is no fire-bell to arouse the brigade; their places of abode were unknown; when the engine arrived, a part of the hose was missing,—it had been shaken off on the way; then the engine could not be got on the north front where the fire was, and the hose was not long enough to reach when the engine was in the street; ultimately it was brought to the south front and the hose carried up stairs; then it was found the suction pipe was stopped—a piece of rope had unaccountably got into it; then there was NO WATER LAID ON; people had to run about to borrow buckets to fetch water. To make “confusion worse confounded” all were masters, and upwards of an hour was already wasted, and nothing done. The fire all this time was spending its fury upon a feather bed, and Miss Christian fortunately shut the door on leaving the room, so that it did not spread, otherwise the engine would have been powerless. The furniture in the room was destroyed, the floor burnt through, and all the paint was scorched off that and the adjoining rooms by the excessive heat: the water afterwards did more injury than the fire. The inmates escaped uninjured. The furniture was insured in the Kent Mutual Insurance Office. The damage to the furniture and house is estimated at £500 or £600. This is the third fire which have occurred upon the Player property. A few years ago their church was struck by lightning, and more recently Manor-house was on fire. We presume all their property is insured, as they are indifferent about a water supply. The above Fire Company (of which Mr. Marvin is the Agent) sent down Inspector, and satisfactorily settled the amount of damages within 24 hours.