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Blackpool Donkeys – A History

7 min read

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7 min read

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Blackpool donkeys are part of the long tradition of donkey rides being a staple at UK seaside resorts. The practice began in the Victorian era, first becoming popular back in the late 1880s.

In Blackpool, it’s widely thought that the first donkey rides were enjoyed in 1890, generally in the summer months. That’s only 4 years before our very own Grand Theatre was built, so we’ve shared the town with our 4-legged friends for quite some time!

Right at the start, it’s entirely possible that the donkey packs were joined by horses and mules, as the ‘draught horses’ of the cockling industry were the first to give rides to children.

Blackpool Donkey Rides Today

Blackpool donkeys start their days off with breakfast in their stables, before they make their way to the beaches (sometimes having a lift in a horse box) to begin giving the day’s donkey rides. On normal days, their saddles are loosened when they take their “lunch breaks”. Their working week is now a maximum of 48 hours, and the donkeys also have a day off on Friday to honour the time when holidaymakers historically left or arrived in the town.

The RSC Amateur Group a midsummer's night dream play for the nation donkey william blackpool

Central beach is the traditional spot to visit if you’re in Blackpool for a donkey ride, and your children are welcome to take them for a ride down the beach. Back in the 1800s, the welfare of the Blackpool donkeys probably wasn’t the foremost concern of their operators, but you’ll be pleased to know that’s definitely not the case any more.

There’s a height and weight restriction to ensure that the donkeys won’t be carrying a rider who might hurt them, with 8 stone (50kg) or 16 years of age being the usual cut-off point. Each proprietor also has to renew their license annually to make sure they’re keeping their standards high. All donkey stables in Blackpool are regularly checked too, and the animals now receive “home visits” from vets.

Just like in Victorian times, your little ones can enjoy picking the donkey with the name that they like the best, because the old habit of the donkeys displaying their names on their bridles or nose bands still happens today! A lot of the donkeys retain old-fashioned names too, with Daisy being a favourite, but that tradition only adds to the charm of the experience.

 

The beaches are also within easy reach of plenty of other sites in Blackpool, so if you’ve worn your children out with the excitement of trekking up and down the beaches with the famous Blackpool donkeys, there are plenty of family shows to enjoy at the Grand while you take a rest!

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