Formed in 1899 at a meeting of fishermen in the Prince Albert, the Winkle Club's aims were and remain the raising of money to give poor children of the town a happy time at Christmas. By means of fundraising subscriptions and donations, the first party took place in 1900 becoming annual events every year. The parties continued (with a break for wartime) until the 1970s. There is a cast-metal sculpture of a winkle located on Winkle Island in the where many honorary members of the club were invested.
A select few honorary members hold a gold winkle. The recipients of these in chronological order are: HRH The Prince of Wales (Duke of Windsor) - 1927
Sir Winston Churchill, Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports - 1956.
HRH The Duke of Edinburgh - 1966.
Sir Robert Menzies, Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports - 1966.
Bunk Harffey (Hon. Secretary from 1919) & John Burton.
Field Marshall Montgomery ('Monty'), who was made an honorary member in 1946, caught the Mayor of Hastings out during the 1953 Coronation rehearsals when challenging the Mayor to 'Winkle Up'; the Mayor being unable to produce his winkle as required, having attended a number of functions that day and changed outfits accordingly.
- British Newspaper Archive Hastings & St. Leonards Observer 6 June 1953 Pg. 0007