Pensioner dead in Benhill Wood Road Sutton flat fire was 'wonderful' snake man Jed Edge

Sutton Guardian: Gerard 'Jed' Edge tragically died in a fire last night Gerard 'Jed' Edge tragically died in a fire last night

Neighbours have paid tribute to Sutton snake man Gerard 'Jed' Edge, who died in a fire last night.

Mr Edge was well-known as an animal enthusiast who supplied snakes and reptiles for the Steven Spielberg film Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark.

But the 82-year-old died in a fire in his flat in Benhill Wood Road, Sutton, at around 10pm yesterday.

Neighbours tried to save Mr Edge but the flames were too intense and by the time firefighters were able to get the blaze under control at around 11pm, he had died.

Debbie Tarrant was one of those who tried to save Mr Edge. She said: "He was just a wonderful old man.

"He had a fabulous personality, he was a bit cantankerous with a lovely smile.

"He lived here for more than 40 years, everyone knows who he is and everyone loves him.

"He's famous too - he's the reptile man.

"Last night there was a fire and an explosion, I don't know how it happened. My partner and I and some others tried to get him out but the fire was too out of control. It's just so sad."

Kevin Smith, who was also among those who tried to save Mr Edge, said: "He was a lovely bloke. For his days to end like this is just so sad.

"We did what we could, but we couldn't get in.

"He was a lovely chap and for this to happen is just terrible."

Mr Edge's dog, Nelly, did escape the fire and is being looked after by a friend.

Neighbour Sandra Atkins called Mr Edge "a kind-hearted, wonderful man".

Another neighbour, who asked not to be named, said: "He was a terrific old fella. He was always up for a chat, and always had stories to tell."

Police are investigating the fire but say they are treating it as non-suspicious.

Mr Edge got involved with Hollywood when film director Spielberg held a casting in London.

He took a cobra with him and, although Spielberg asked him to keep the snake well away from him, he was recruited to supply snakes and lizards for the film.

Mr Edge's son, Steve, even got to play a part in the movie.

Leading lady Karen Allen was frightened of the animals so Mr Edge's son shaved his legs and donned a dress to double for her.

Mr Edge, who kept a range of animals in his flat over the years including a puma and a chimp, worked at Smithfield meat market for over 40 years while also working as an animal handler for films including Star Wars.

He has three sons and 10 grandchildren.

He was immortalised in paint when his grandson, Ben, did a portrait of him that was selected to go on show at the National Portrait Gallery in London.

Did you know Mr Edge? If you would like to pay tribute to him, contact reporter Mike Pyle on 020 8722 6359, email: mike.pyle@london.newsquest.co.uk or use the comment facility below.

Comments (6)

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12:29pm Fri 12 Apr 13

ldouglas says...

Jed was a very good friend of my late fathers and all of my family, he was devastated when my Dad died as he was one of his fishing partners, and helped with Jed's animals for years from tarantulas to piranhas and snakes. I remember he gave me a lift one day and there were scorpions in a bag by my feet lol , he was unique and our hearts go out to his son's and wife. if there is a heaven he will be up there now with my dad Ray fishing and chatting RIP Jed xxx
Jed was a very good friend of my late fathers and all of my family, he was devastated when my Dad died as he was one of his fishing partners, and helped with Jed's animals for years from tarantulas to piranhas and snakes. I remember he gave me a lift one day and there were scorpions in a bag by my feet lol , he was unique and our hearts go out to his son's and wife. if there is a heaven he will be up there now with my dad Ray fishing and chatting RIP Jed xxx ldouglas
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2:13pm Fri 12 Apr 13

jacappleby says...

As my sister (ldouglas) has said, he was such a good friend and a big character in our lives. He and Dad were like something out of an old wild west film. So many adventures, so many memories. I'm so sad for his family and for my own loss. I'll miss you mate XXXXX Jacqui
As my sister (ldouglas) has said, he was such a good friend and a big character in our lives. He and Dad were like something out of an old wild west film. So many adventures, so many memories. I'm so sad for his family and for my own loss. I'll miss you mate XXXXX Jacqui jacappleby
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8:23pm Fri 12 Apr 13

Krissi says...

Jed was a friend of mine- and my son's too we had a great time chatting and listening to his stories when he had his lurcher- who sadly died many years back, he will be much missed and am so sad for his family and his other friends RIP Jed we'll miss you XXX
Jed was a friend of mine- and my son's too we had a great time chatting and listening to his stories when he had his lurcher- who sadly died many years back, he will be much missed and am so sad for his family and his other friends RIP Jed we'll miss you XXX Krissi
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10:35pm Fri 12 Apr 13

Mikstyx says...

My Dad introduced me to Jed, he used to come and stay at a caravan park near us in the summer months. Jed always had a story to tell and he kept us laughing. Jed and I won best stall one year for our walking sticks at a country show we did together with my Dad. He always had a way with words, he's favourite way to make you smile for a picture was to swear instead of saying cheese! RIP Jed miss you loads xx
My Dad introduced me to Jed, he used to come and stay at a caravan park near us in the summer months. Jed always had a story to tell and he kept us laughing. Jed and I won best stall one year for our walking sticks at a country show we did together with my Dad. He always had a way with words, he's favourite way to make you smile for a picture was to swear instead of saying cheese! RIP Jed miss you loads xx Mikstyx
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2:00pm Fri 19 Apr 13

christineBrown says...

Did you know Jed also supplied a snake for the duran duran video wild boys. We have many storeies ,like when he got bitten by one of his piranhas or when his lizard called Houdini use to get out. Our lives are richer for knowing Jed. Our hearts are brocken. His knowlege, his kindness but most of all the man that was everyone's friend will be missed more than words can say.
Did you know Jed also supplied a snake for the duran duran video wild boys. We have many storeies ,like when he got bitten by one of his piranhas or when his lizard called Houdini use to get out. Our lives are richer for knowing Jed. Our hearts are brocken. His knowlege, his kindness but most of all the man that was everyone's friend will be missed more than words can say. christineBrown
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9:14am Sat 20 Apr 13

M.Hunter says...

"Jed was a wonderful man who had time in his life for so many people,when I was lad he spent hours with me teaching me how to tie flys on hooks for fly fishing.I used to spent hours in his garage full of snakes lizards and he always made time for teaching me the wonders of the world.
Shame I hadn't seen him for many years but real fond memory's of him will last for ever."
"Jed was a wonderful man who had time in his life for so many people,when I was lad he spent hours with me teaching me how to tie flys on hooks for fly fishing.I used to spent hours in his garage full of snakes lizards and he always made time for teaching me the wonders of the world. Shame I hadn't seen him for many years but real fond memory's of him will last for ever." M.Hunter
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