Plans to honour the memory of Biddy the Tubman are gathering momentum.
Sue Church, the woman behind the campaign to have a blue plaque erected in his memory now has a unique design for the plaque which would sum up Biddy perfectly. The idea to erect a plaque came from Sue’s father Terry Baldwin who is a native of Hastings and wants Sue to help him ensure that the the memory of Biddy the Tubman lives on forever as he feels that is what Biddy deserves.
Biddy, or to give him his full name Alfred Mills Stonham, was born in 1879 and lived until he was 85, he was a fisherman and lifeboatman and lived a very full life receiving a silver medal for bravery from the RNLI which he was presented with at Buckingham palace by King Edward VII. He was a sailor in the first world war and in world war two he helped in the evacuation of Dunkirk.
Biddy was best known for the tubman act he performed inside an old-style traditional washtub just off the beach, it included a number of acrobatic stunts that kept the crowds amused. His act required great strength and a fine sense of balance. After his performances were over donations were collected from the crowds watching from the beach.
Biddy continued fishing and tubbing right up until 1963 just a year before he died and this video from YouTube shows him performing his famous act.
Sue said this week: “I’m pleased to let you know that Claire Fletcher an artist from Leicestershire, living and working in Hastings, has offered up a visual of a Tub to add to Biddy’s draft blue plaque.”
Sue has already established that the cost of the plaque would be around £300 and now plans to find out how much extra the special design will cost to produce.
Sue has also identified three possible locations, these are: Hastings seafront – where Biddy performed his act; 14 West Street – where Biddy was born in 1879 or 1 Bembrook Road, where Biddy lived from at least 1939 to his death in 1964