Memories of 'donkey stoning' the doorsteps of Leeds

They were first used in the textile mills on greasy, slippy stone staircases to prevent accidents.

Friday, 22nd January 2021, 11:30 am
PIC: West Yorkshire Archive Service
PIC: West Yorkshire Archive Service

Eventually 'donkey stoning' the doorstep - a traditional method of cleaning particular to Yorkshire and Lancashire - became a source of pride among housewives across the city and beyond.

Donkey Stones - made from a mixture of crushed sandstone, cement, bleach and water - could often be obtained from the rag and bone man in exchange for rags.

They were originally named after the trade mark of one of the earliest producers, Roads of Manchester. Stones were available in white, cream and brown for different decorative effects.

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This photo shows a lady kneeling on the pavement outside number busy 'donkey stoning' her doorstep on Woodville Place, Hunslet, in April 1966.

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It is published courtesy West Yorkshire Archive Service, which collects and looks after the unique documentary heritage of the region dating from the 12th century to the present day - more than 800 years of local history. It also runs Catablogue, an online blog dedicated to preserving the past, serving the present and protecting the future.

The Greater Manchester company of Eli Whalley and Co was the last surviving manufacturer of donkey stones when it closed in 1979. The company's trademark was not a donkey, but a lion, chosen by Eli Whalley in reminiscence of his childhood visits to Belle Vue Zoo. The image of a lion was imprinted on every stone.

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