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Tuesday, 5 February 2013

ABC Wednesday: Donkey Stone

Today's post for ABC Wednesday is D for "Donkey Stone" and shows what is left of a once-thriving local industry.

This small stone building on Lower Wharf Street in Ashton was once part of a larger group of buildings where the manufacture of donkey stones took place. Donkey stones were used in mills to prevent stone steps from becoming slippery with grease. They were later used by proud housewives to make their doorsteps look smart.

This factory was set up by Eli Whalley on what had been Ashton Old Wharf at the side of the Ashton Canal. The site is now sometimes known as Donkey Stone Wharf. The name "Donkey" was originally the brand name of one of the companies that made such stones, but became the generic name for the product, much as vacuum cleaners are often referred to as hoovers.

The donkey stones were made from crushed stone, cement, bleach and water. The colour depended on the type of crushed stone used.

Two other companies had also manufactured donkey stones further along Lower Wharf Street. Eli Whalley's was the last to close.

A close-up of the blue plaque can be seen here.

See Google Street View of this location.

(Click photo for larger version. Press Back button to return here.)

"Donkey Stone" is a contribution to ABC Wednesday. For more "D" posts from around the world please follow this link.


  1. Great stuff Martin - I did a long post about Donkey Stone Wharf in August 2009. I must get around there again sometime when the weather improves - I recall passing by last year sometime and it looked as though access to it was closed. Hope it is still being kept in good order.

  2. charming building
    ROG, ABC Wednesday team

  3. So is the building made of donkey stone, or did they only manufacture it there? I would love to see a close up of donkey stone. What color is it I wonder? Fascinating post.

    1. Hello Chris. No, the building is made of a local stone, perhaps gritstone or sandstone. The donkey stones were white, yellow or red, depending on what kind of crushed stone they were made from. There are some photos here:

  4. Quaint building with an interesting history. I had never heard of donkey stones before. The things we learn on ABC Wednesday!

  5. Fascinating! I've never heard of such a thing.

    abcw team

  6. This is a new one for me, love learning new things.

  7. Great photo, very interesting. As a child one of my weekly chores was to donkey stone the front step and window cill. My mother got the stone from the rag-and-bone man who came around with his horse ( or donkey ) and cart.

  8. Does anyone know where I can get a white or yellow donkey stone from today ?
    Someone mentioned Ashton Market ?
    Do they still sell them there ?


    1. I have just found a six year old online news article saying that Bailey's in Ashton Market Hall sold them. I don't know whether they still do. It seems the most likely place.


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