Wednesday, July 19, 2017

1920s postcard: Weymouth, The Sands & Donkeys

This postcard, which appears to have a postmark of July 28, 1924, features the busy summer beach scene at Weymouth, Dorset, Jurassic Coast, England. Some of the signs you can see, if you magnify the image, are AMERICAN STUDIO, ICE CREAM WAFERS, and NOTED ICES.

Weymouth has long been a tourist destination and resort. And donkeys have long been a part of that scene and are still present today. This website tells you all about Gracy, Dolly, Jasmine, Dainty and other current donkeys. The donkeys are also available for weddings and corporate weddings, but the website is sure to note that "the donkeys work 6 days a week, they take it in turns to have their day off."

The current donkeys, while still indentured, seem to have it better than past donkeys. On Victorian Tales from Weymouth and Portland, Susan Hogben noted the following in a 2013 blog post titled "Weymouth 1866. A cruel life for Victorian beach donkeys":
"The [current] donkeys on Weymouth sands are well cared for and much loved, they have their own umbrellas for shade, a proper lunch break, lots of cuddles and snacks. But life hadn’t always been kind to these gentle souls of the sands.

"In the Victorian local papers were numerous cases of cruelty by the owners and many of the young lads who used to be in charge of the rides on the beach. One of the cases in 1866 concerned 14-year-old Samuel Vincent, who was hauled before the local magistrates for cruelly mistreating a donkey. ...

"One of the donkeys was dragging his heels that day, lagging behind the rest of the group. The lad, carrying a large stick with him, was seen repeatedly beating the donkey on its hocks as hard as he could. That still not achieving what he wanted, he then proceeded to pick up large pebbles from the beach, throwing them at the donkeys legs, hitting them hard, causing the donkey to go lame.

"It seems that this wasn’t the first time Samuel had been observed beating the donkeys, nor was it just Samuel who was guilty of doing so. Many of other boys who worked for the donkey proprietor were guilty of cruelty towards these gentle beasts of the sands and found themselves hauled before the courts.

"The proprietor himself had been warned numerous times about the cases of cruelty observed towards his herd of little donkeys. Even the goats which were used to pull the carts along the promenade didn’t escape the beatings."
So sad. Please be kind to animals, everyone.

* * *
As for the back of this postcard, it was mailed with a red, one-penny stamp featuring King George V. The recipient was Miss A. Henderson, Townhill [?] Cooperative Society Ltd., Dunfermline, Fifeshire, Scotland. The short note states:
"Dear Friend we are enjoying ourselves ... and having lovely weather down here. it's such a lovely place. hoping all are well at home.
from A.D."
I'm guessing that A.D. does not stand for "A Donkey," because that would be something.

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