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Donkeys work at the beach

This postcard, over 100 years old, sums up the pleasure of seeing donkeys on the beach. The gentleman with his donkey team appears to be dressed in his Sunday best, complete with bowler hat. The child in front is no doubt waiting for a ride after the photographer has finished taking his pictures.

Donkey rides have been a traditional feature of English seaside resorts, back to early Victorian times. Although donkeys rides are no longer available at many resorts today donkeys still on the job in many places, such as Blackpool, Skegness and Llandudno.

This postcard was mailed in 1905 from Felixstowe, Suffolk, to London. The sender, “Winnie” asks Marjorie, the recipient, “Do you remember these donkeys?”  The card is franked with a King Edward VII halfpenny stamp, the lowest denomination postage stamp in the old currency, and is cancelled with a “squared circle” postmark.

Postcards with views such as these are a joy to postcard collectors and squared circle cancellations are of considerable interest to philatelists because many are also interested in postal markings as well as in postage stamps.

Squared circle postmarks were introduced at various British cities in 1879. They continued in use after Queen Victoria’s reign into the reign of King Edward VII.  Similar squared circle postmarks were also used in Canada. Picton, Bloomfield and other county post offices, had such postmarks at one time.

As a child, I recall the donkeys on Felixstowe beach. Perhaps the licence holder in my youth was a descendant of the man in the postcard photograph, for licences were often passed down from generation to generation.
The donkeys (Suffolk people often called them “dickeys”) were all healthy looking and well supplied with hay and fresh water. They also received many treats, such as carrots and apples, from their children who queued up to take a ride on them.

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  1. Rich says:

    Nice pic.. thing things might look a little different now!

    http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?hl=en&tab=wl

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