The one on the top holds a shield taken from the Greater Manchester coat of arms. The larger shield symbolises Tameside. The wavy blue diagonal represents the River Tame, the traditional county boundary, the wheatsheaf below for Cheshire and the red rose of Lancashire above.
Right is a red griffin depicting dynamism and progress and hanging from a chain around its neck is a gold cogwheel indicating the industrial aspects of Tameside.
Which brings me to the gold lion on the left. It isn’t quite clear what it represents, but it has a black pierced star, or rowel, hanging from a chain around its neck.
The second lion on my list is the Lion Brand stamps used to mark the donkey stones manufactured by Eli Whalley in Ashton. Donkey stones were originally used in the cotton mills to provide a non-slip surface on greasy staircases, but were then adopted by housewives as an ideal way of keeping their doorsteps looking like new.
The stones where made by crushing sandstone and salt and then mixing it with cement, bleach and water to form a paste. This was then transferred to a workbench where it was formed into a block using wooden boards before it was cut into two and a half dozen donkey stones.
Eli Whalley and Co reached its peak in the 1930s when it produced two and a half million stones a year and the company was the last manufacturer of donkey stones when it closed in 1979.
As with the hoover, the generic name donkey stone came from the original trademark used by Reads of Manchester. Eli Whalley chose to continue the animal theme with the lion, taking his inspiration from childhood visits to Belle Vue Zoo. Or perhaps perhaps it was a premonition of the WWI maxim of ‘lions led by donkeys’.
My granddad worked on the railway all his life, first as a fireman and then as an engine driver for LNER. He told the story that when he first tried his hand at driving, he made a complete hash of bringing the train into Glossop station and ‘knocked the tail off the lion’.
I hope he was speaking figuratively, otherwise he would have crashed the engine through the station building straight onto Norfolk Street and into the George.
Loving Day by Ramblin’ Roger
Liechtenstein at Bonjour Luxembourg
Legend at Amy’s Miscellany
Listening at Sithenah
Lamps and Lanterns from View Thru My Global Lens
Lamplight by Words, Words, Words
London at Weighty Matters