Grandad and former mudlark Alexander honoured at ‘lovely’ family plaque unveiling

AS a youngster, there were weeks when Alexander Baldacchino’s mudlarking antics would bring home more money than his father’s full-time job. 

Like hundreds of others from Portsea, he would spend days writhing, dancing and entertaining from the mudflats of The Hard – hopeful of any spare change thrown his way by passers-by. 

Alexander Baldacchino in front of the Mudlarks' Memorial, centre, surrounded by his family and friends. Picture: Polly Richards

Now 87, those days are over – but his memories of life as a mudlark came flooding back on Sunday. 

It came as more than 30 friends and members of his family united at the Mudlarks’ Memorial to stage their own plaque unveiling for him. 

His name, alongside the name of his late sister, Dolores, were two of the 32 added to the statue’s ‘final’ plaque at the start of September. 

‘It brought back the memories and I was very proud to see my name on the plaque,’ said Mr Baldacchino, from Portsmouth. 

Alexander Baldacchino, pointing to his name of the new and 'final' plaque at the Mudlarks' Memorial in Portsea. Picture: Polly Richards

‘Mudlarking was wonderful fun and we were achieving something too because we were making money.’

The plaque gesture, courtesy of Mr Baldacchino’s family, comes 78 years after the glory days he spent revelling in the mud. 

To see him so pleased about it was ‘really nice’, said his granddaughter, mother-of-three Polly Richards – despite missing out on an official unveiling by the statue’s founder Margaret Foster at the start of September. 

‘We were disappointed when we could not make the actual unveiling, but because our family is so big these things take a bit of coordination,’ she said. 

The 35-year-old added: ‘But we met there at lunchtime on Sunday and it was so lovely. There were multiple generations there to enjoy it.’ 

And now, she said, the years’ worth of stories her grandad has told he have been immortalised in bronze. 

‘My grandad’s tales of being a mudlark have never been a secret – he has been telling for as long as I can remember,’ she said. 

‘It [mudlarking] is very quirky and he has always been a joker, full of life. 

‘So for me, it is not hard to see why he would’ve made a lot of money when he was out in the mud all those years ago.’ 

The celebration also featured a speech – from Polly’s uncle John Baldacchino – which is captured on video. 

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