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Legendary Fire Chief's memory honoured

By 29th June 2018 No Comments
Five generations of the same family reunited to remember an 1800s West Midlands firefighter.

Smethwick Community Fire Station welcomed more than 25 descendants of Thomas Chandler, the town’s former Chief Fire Officer, including his 101-year-old granddaughter.

‘Tommy’ retired in 1923 after 43 years’ service and, sadly, died shortly afterwards. Residents and civic leaders paid their respects during his funeral procession and at his burial in Holly Lane.

A memorial plaque, paid for by public subscription, was erected in Chandler‘s name at Rolfe Street fire station. It was moved to the site of the current fire station when it was relocated.

Several accounts exist of his ghost haunting the Rolfe Street premises and their Stony Lane replacement.

Wendy Bird, Thomas’s great-great-granddaughter from Wednesbury, said: “It was an absolute privilege for us to see the plaque, to know that the effort was taken to move it to the current fire station and that Thomas Chandler is still remembered.
“It truly was a momentous day for our family. We were all extremely appreciative of the welcome we had from the firefighters on Green Watch, and grateful to the council for allowing us access to the burial ground and Thomas’s final resting place.”

Six Smethwick firefighters in ceremonial uniform formed a guard of honour at Chandler‘s grave, where his granddaughter and great-granddaughter laid a wreath before a minute’s silence was observed.

Watch Commander Lee Richardson said: “It was our honour to welcome Thomas Chandler‘s family and to learn more about him from them and the local historians who joined us, Mary Bodfish and Ian Bott.

“It was a happy and sometimes moving afternoon. We were very pleased to have helped the family remember and celebrate Mr Chandler.

“We often talk of ‘The 999 Family’ which, on this occasion, proved to be one that spans the generations and stands the test of time.”
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