20 August 2010

Who was 'Stumpy' Watson?

I recently re-read 'Hoo's Who' by Kathy Evans and Douglas Marsh. This book contains memories of local people and provides an insight into how life used to be on the Hoo Peninsula. There are two references to a 'Stumpy Watson'. The first is by Frank Hammond, whose uncle was a blacksmith in Lower Stoke. The second by Pauline Plewis, who was a school secretary at Stoke Primary.

Talking about helping his uncle Albert at the Forge in Lower Stoke, Frank Hammond states "I used to pump the flue and the old boy, little old Stumpy Watson, used to sit and watch me. All the old boys used to sit there (in the forge) if they couldn't get into the Ship Inn or if they couldn't afford a drink."
Pauline Plewis also talks about the village characters. "They had all sorts of nicknames and I used to hear older villagers talking about these weird people, including Stumpy Watson, who had a wooden leg. Stumpy used to play the drums in a little band they got-up for a fete. They would form outside the Nags Head and march along and up by the Methodist Church, but Stumpy would go the other way because he couldn't see over the drum."

These memories paint an intriguing picture of Stumpy Watson. And who was he exactly? I might be wrong (and I probably am), but I am starting to think that he must have been Stephen Watson, who was my Great-Grandfather's brother. Stephen was born in Stoke and died in 1945, aged 83. Stephen married Eliza Frances Weller (from Borstal) in 1893, but she died in 1927. I don’t know if they ever had any children.

Stephen Watson's death certificate, pictured below, is dated 2 May 1945 and shows his address as Lathbury Cottages, Stoke Road, Lower Stoke.

I would like to find out if Stumpy Watson and Stephen Watson are in fact the same person. So it would be great to find a surviving photograph of Stumpy, as I have so many weird and wonderful images running through my mind at the moment.