Donkey Festival attendees, Lookaway and Thunder, on Norwich Quay ca. 1958. 

Donkey Festival attendees, Lookaway and Thunder, on Norwich Quay ca. 1958. 

Hello! Welcome to the New Year and to the Lyttelton Museum's new blog! 

We start the year in style with the first entry from our calendar, the very dashing Lookaway and Thunder, two attendees of the Donkey Festival in Lyttelton about 1958. 

Unfortunately we do not know a lot about the Donkey Festival - was it held annually? Were the donkeys raced? Celebrated? In competition for silkiest ears? What we do know though, is that Lyttelton and donkeys go way back.

As early as 1862 donkeys were being raced as part of Anniversary Day festivities (originally held in December)  by the proprietor of the Caversham Hotel, John Townsend Parkinson. 

Lyttelton Times 13/12/1862: 5.

Lyttelton Times 13/12/1862: 5.

Two years later an account of the local ‘Donkey Show’ was published in the Lyttelton Times (reference). Donkeys were judged on their beauty, strength and intelligence in a variety of classes – ‘English donkeys’, ‘Eastern donkeys’ and ‘foreign asses’ to name a few, and donkey chariot races were held to the amusement of the general public. Interestingly the piece emphasised the need to treat donkeys kindly and the work ethic of the humble donkey was soundly praised:

Lyttelton Times 25/10/1864: 5. 

Lyttelton Times 25/10/1864: 5. 

Obviously, Lyttelton and donkeys have quite the history!

Copies of the Lyttelton Museum Calendar, with historic images of Lyttelton, can still be purchased from Leslie's Bookshop in Oxford Street, the Lyttelton Information Centre, and London Street Books & Antiques.

We hope that everyone is having a fantastic 2017 so far! Stay tuned for more from the Lyttelton Museum! 

 

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