Uncle Toms Cabin – Humble Beginnings – From 1851

Uncle Toms Cabin – Bispam’s First Centre Of Entertainment – By Norman Cunliffe


Margaret Parkinson began her little enterprise by opening up a refreshment stall on Sundays, then the only day of the week on which
there was a substantial number of Visitors, and from there she sold
her sweetmeats, gingerbreads, nuts, and ginger beer. This stall was set up near to where Margaret lived on the landward side of the cliff path, but it was soon replaced by an unpretentious w0oden hut, which in all probability came from the farm of her brother in law Thomas Parkinson, and it became known as Little London. Business must have been reasonably good for soon Margaret’s young teenage nephew Thomas Hard man was helping her sell the ginger beer when he was not working himself as a farm labourer in Bispham. This little hut had not been up long before it gradually acquired a different name, the circumstances of which can only be surmised.

It was in 1852 across the Atlantic that Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote
her famous book Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ and later in the same year it
was also published in London. It became immensely popular and
soon the name was on everybody’s lips. This being so, it is not too
difficult to imagine how Margaret’s little hut acquired this name
when other facts are added. As previously stated there were two
young boys around, Margaret’s son and her nephew Tom Hardman
who would almost certainly refer to Tom Parkinson as their Uncle Tom, and since the hut was on his farm land and most likely given by him to Margaret, they would think of it as Uncle Tom’s hut. The association of this with the current popularity of the name Uncle Tom’s Cabin is thus a logical step.

Although the business was a reasonable success, by 1858 Margaree
decided that she had had enough. It was not because she felt that
the business was not worth running, but because the profits she
made were being swallowed up by her husband – in more ways
than one. It. seems he was in the habit of visiting the Gynn Inn
where the profits were squandered away with the help of his
friends. What profits were left were used to better effect when
they took up the tenancy of Gezarts Farm at Carleton.