Hastings & St Leonards
Fisherman outside the Prince Albert Hodges
The Prince Albert, Rock-
A group of local fishermen who used the pub discussed the idea of raising money for children of poverty-
The fishing community decided to organise a self-
Over the years the club also organised events at the fish market, including festive sports days and banana races, where competitors had to race with a ten-
Rock A Nore, showing the Prince Albert 1890
Winkle Club c1920
The main event was the children’s Christmas party. Ironical then, that the landlord was summonsed and fined £1 in 1920, for allowing children into the room where the Winkle Club was in session, although they used a side entrance.
This type of charity was not unique to Hastings. Mass Observation’s, The Pub and the People mentions similar charities called Dolly Clubs operating from pubs in the north of England, where every member had to carry a small dolly or pay a fine. Equally another Hastings pub, the Royal Oak, had an Acorn Club, where members were required to carry an acorn at all times.
In the 1930s a second Winkle Club was formed, at the Tivoli Tavern in Silverhill. Both clubs operated on the same principle but with one major difference; the Tivoli Winkle Club had several female members whereas the Hastings club was exclusively male and banned women from its ranks.
With 150 members, the club closed during the Second World War, except for two concerts organised for evacuee children billeted in the town. In 1948 the Winkle Club held its first dinner for nearly 10 years because of wartime food shortages.
The Prince Albert closed in 1954 and its licence was transferred to the Duke of Wellington in the High Street. The Winkle Club moved to the Jolly Fisherman until 1959 and moved again to the Lord Nelson until 1964, when it finally found a new home at the Fishermen’s Institute where it remains to this day.
The Winkle Clubs of Hastings were thereafter remembered by an unusual pictorial link between Hastings and Basingstoke in Hampshire. In 1967 a pub sign was commissioned and designed for a new public house in Basingstoke called the Winkle. This pub is located on Winklebury Way near the Iron Age camp on Winklebury Hill. Its sign shows a winkle shell, the Hastings town arms and a silhouette of Winston Churchill gazing out across the English Channel.
The Hastings Arms represents Hastings as the chief Cinque Port. The winkle represents the historic Winkle Clubs, while Winston Churchill is included as he was an honorary member of the Winkle Club and Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports.
The Prince Albert is now the Mermaid Restaurant adjacent to Winkle Island, and a monument of a winkle shell.
Winkle Island at Rock A Nore
The Winkle, Basingstoke,
drawing by James Gray
The building in 2009 Russell
Bessie from an Old Town pub
Had joined the famous Winkle Club
When Winkles Up was cried with zest
She raised hers higher than the rest.
She wore her winkle night and day
She wouldn’t put the thing away
Even when swimming in her vest
The winkle glistened on her chest.
[Dyer & Vint 1972]