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Donkey stones are scouring stones, named after the trade-mark of one of the earliest firms, Reads of Manchester. They were originally used in the textile mills of Yorkshire and Manchester, to provide a non-slip surface on greasy stone staircases.

The stones were available in three colours; cream, brown and white, with cream being preferred in the Manchester area.

The basic material, a type of sandstone from Northampton called cotta stone, produced the brown colour, while the white stone came from Appley Bridge quarry near Wigan and the cream a combination of the two.

Later, proud housewives took to stoning their front doorsteps, which became a form of decoration and great competition between the women.

In addition to stoning the front doorstep, the house-proud housewife might also treat her stone door surround, window sill and even "her" section of the pavement in front of her house! "Doing the step" was an ideal occasion for gossip between neighbours, as well as a source of rivalry.
Iím reliably informed that the scouring stones were made from powdered stone, mixed with water, cement and bleach. The mixture was ground into a fine, wet paste, pressed into an oblong mould then cut, stamped and air-dried.

The most common stamp was a little donkey- hence the name donkey stone - but others included a lion and a pony.

Interesting! I can remember women on their knees scouring the steps, and if you didn't do yours, you were well talked about!
These days, women are on their knees for different purposes.... Confused Forum Index -> Liverpool and Merseyside History & Nostalgia
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