Hastings legend Biddy the Tubman is to get Blue Plaque

Hastings legend Biddy the Tubman is to get a Blue Plaque in the Old Town after Hastings Winkle Club agreed to fund it.

Thursday, 9th May 2019, 8:44 am
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Alfred Mills Stonham was a famous Old Town character who was better known as Biddy the Tubman.

Biddy would entertain holiday-makers with his antics off shore in the Old Town after the war.

He would entice people, preferably young ladies, into his tub and then balance on the rim and spin it round before tipping them into the sea.

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Biddy was also a fisherman, lifeboat man and Winkle Club member and his tub and paddle are still on display in the Fishermen’s Museum in Rock-a-Nore Road.

Sue Church whose father, a native of Hastings, recounted Biddy’s antics to her, set up a Blue Plaque Group on Facebook with the aim of providing an appropriate tribute to this great character.

Amongst those she contacted were Deputy Mayor, James Bacon, who is Biddy’s Great Great Grandson and he put Sue in touch with the Winkle Club.

Subsequently, the Club agreed to fund the cost of the plaque and its erection on the house in West Street, Old Town, where Biddy was born in 1878.

It is hoped that the plaque will be in place and be ready for an unveiling ceremony during this year’s Old Town Week.

Sue Church said: “Last April after a long-overdue visit to Hastings to visit family haunts and after speaking with my father, Terry Baldwin, a native of Hastings, he told me a story about a chap Biddy the Tubman who he remembers seeing perform his Tubman Act off Hastings seafront in Hastings.

My father feels Biddy deserves recognition for all he did for the local fishing community and many other local charities. He wants the memory of Biddy the Tubman to live on forever and asked me if there was anything, I could do about this.

“Biddy was born in West Street, in the Old Town, and lived there for many years before finally seeing out his retirement years living on Bembrook Road.

“After months of research and conversations with a supplier who can supply the plaque, we have finally made a decision on the exact location for the plaque and have had confirmation from the owner of the property at No 17 West Street, Lorna Crabb who is happy to have the plaque put up on the wall of her house.

“Lorna tells me that No 17 West Street was used by a grandson of Biddy’s, Colin (Cooey/ Cooee) Wood also worked from her downstairs room in the 1960s/70s.

“He was another well-known and well-liked local man, he brought fish up from the market, used the bottom room to fillet it, then loaded up a cart and sold it to local restaurants.”