L is for Lions

When I was looking for local lions, I located them lyin‘ all over the locale. Not least on the Tameside coat of arms woven into the carpet at Ashton Town Hall that has two lions on it.

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.

Lion BrandThe 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.

Finally the stones were stamped with the blocks illustrated above and then left to dry on racks to produce the donkey stones shown left. The photos aren’t great because they were taken through glass.

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 final lion stands on top of Glossop railway station. This is a little outside my usual bailiwick, but it has personal significance.

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.

A Selection from ABC Wednesday Round 7

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

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

8 comments… Add yours
  • Ann 6th October 2010

    So many Lions. So much information about the Lions. Thanks for sharing.

  • Polly 6th October 2010

    Thanks Ann. I’d be ‘lion’ if I said I wasn’t flattered.

  • rog 6th October 2010

    thanks for the leonine tour. and for the shout-out!
    ROG, ABC Wednesday team

  • Polly 6th October 2010

    No problem Roger — I now know the meaning of miscegenation!

  • Yorkshire Pudding 6th October 2010

    “The wavy blue diagonal represents the River Tame” …. For authenticity, shouldn’t that diagonal be sort of khaki coloured with an old supermarket trolley in the middle?

  • Polly 6th October 2010

    The Tame is remarkable clean these days, although I’ll grant you the odd supermarket trolley!

  • serrurier 6th June 2011

    I couldn’t currently have asked for a more rewarding blog. You are ever present to give excellent advice, going right to the point for convenient understanding of your subscribers. You’re surely a terrific expert in this field. Many thanks for being there for people like me.


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