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Studley Grange 5000: Donkeys and canals
Monday, 15 August 2016 10:19

donkey 7 locks history 2016-08-15Yes there is a connection…  many canals,  including the Wilts & Berks, when they were the main freight routes for the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century, were “powered” by donkeys rather than, as is often imagined, large cart horses such as Shires or Clydesdales.

There were many reasons for this, including narrowness of towpaths, heights of bridges and the cheaper purchase and running costs of donkeys’ vs horses. Typically the barge donkeys worked as a pair or double hitch, or as a single hitch for small loads.  And donkeys were also used to “puddle” the clay to make the canal bed watertight.

The Trust has a number of archive photos showing working donkeys on the Wilts & Berks canal.  The photo above shows the lock keeper at 7 Locks in Dauntsey with his working donkey next to the lock stables. The Studley Grange section would have been no exception, and were you able to time travel back to the 1800’s, you would have seen many working donkeys along this stretch of the canal.

donkey 2016-08-15The Wilts & Berks Canal Trust continue to celebrate this connection by their sponsorship and attendance at the Wiltshire Donkey Show in Dauntsey every September  where the driving donkeys are driven up to the canal near 7 Locks to receive Wilts & Berks Canal Trust commemorative rosettes…  and of course some carrots!  

The show is affiliated to The Donkey Breed Society, www.donkeybreedsociety.co.uk  a charity working to further the welfare of donkeys in the UK. Winners of show classes qualify for DBS national championships. 

Come along on Sunday 4th September and see for yourself: for more information go to: www.wiltshiredonkeyshow.co.uk

Please help us celebrate the connection with donkeys at Studley Grange.  

Please go to: donate.wbct.org.uk   and help us to complete our Studley Grange flagship project