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Photos of Wigan
Photos of Wigan

Photo-a-Day Archive
Photo-a-Day Archive

Photo-a-Day  (Saturday, 4th June, 2022)

Old Bobby Headstone

Old Bobby Headstone
I came across this at Rectory Nurseries in Ashton, it was saved by garden centre owners Kevin and Carl.

Here is a bit of info from the Dundee Evening Telegraph dated 29th January 1938.

  In the yard of the Allison Arms Hotel, Appley Bridge, Wigan, there stands a tombstone to a donkey.
  It was erected in remembrance of the faithful friend of William Stopford, Old Bobby, who died in 1877 at the ripe old age, for a donkey, of 54 years.

Photo: Brian  (iPhone)
Views: 2,017

Comment by: Helen of Troy on 4th June 2022 at 08:17

We had donkeys for many years...only actually paid cash for one ! The others just seemed to arrive at intervals.
Our last one, Daniel retired to the Donkey Sanctuary at Sidmouth where we used to visit him..he died there aged 40 yrs.

Comment by: irene roberts on 4th June 2022 at 09:10

I find that really moving....Ould Bobby was obviously very precious to his owner. There used to be a donkey's grave at Arley Hall, which a friend once took me to see. I wonder if it is the same donkey and the headstone has been moved? It was a donkey that used to give small children a ride to school in the 1800s, if I remember correctly, and was much-loved.

Comment by: Veronica on 4th June 2022 at 12:07

He must have been well treated to live to the age of 54. To think Bobby the donkey was trotting about from 1823…is that the actual grave as the stone seems to have been sited in other places.

Comment by: irene roberts on 4th June 2022 at 13:12

Sorry to go off the subject, but if Ozy is reading this, I have left a question for you on yesterday's p-a-d. Just something I am puzzled about.

Comment by: Neil Cain on 4th June 2022 at 13:40

Irene, it is George the pony at Arley. Grave is still there.

Comment by: Maureen on 4th June 2022 at 13:41

What a lovely tribute to a beautiful creature.

Comment by: Neil Cain on 4th June 2022 at 13:41

Irene, it's near a tree!!!

Comment by: . Ozy . on 4th June 2022 at 14:17

I’ve only just seen your comment Irene.
The place was called Haydock lodge asylum.

I’d forgotten that was it’s proper title.

If you type the name into your device, you’ll find all the info you require on there, including a 3 part YouTube video about the facility.

The place had a sinister reputation, as you’re about to discover.

Talk about man’s inhumanity to man.

Be lucky Irene….. and pass my regards on to Peter.

. Ozy .

Comment by: irene roberts on 4th June 2022 at 14:17

Neil Cain....near a tree?.....you don't say!

Comment by: irene roberts on 4th June 2022 at 15:11

Thanks, Ozy....I'll look it up. xx

Comment by: Thomas(Tom)Walsh. on 4th June 2022 at 18:25

One of my favourite poems , I had to do an essay on it at Saint John Fisher circa 1958
The Donkey
When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born.

With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil’s walking parody
On all four-footed things.

The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.

Fools! For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.

Comment by: Helen of Troy on 4th June 2022 at 19:20

Beautiful verse Tom, very moving.

Comment by: Syd Smith on 4th June 2022 at 19:30

I read somewhere that William Stopford, the landlord of Allison Arms in Appley Bridge, was am invalid and used Boby the donkey to get him around the village

Comment by: . Ozy . on 4th June 2022 at 23:52

Just before the topic of moribund hoofed mammals passes into the obscurity of the wigan world archive at midnight, I’d just like to say that the tombstone of another donkey exists, a mere 300 yards or so from the site of the former Haydock lodge asylum, in the grounds of Lord Gerrard’s estate.

Anyone who has ever knocked a ball about at Ashton golf club will be aware of its existence.

As kids, trespassing on the estate in search of conkers, we came across it frequently.
I really must go back there one day and take a photograph.

Furthermore, and in the unlikely event that anyone may be remotely interested, just outside the village of Diggle, ……( which is nowhere near Wigan ) , alongside an unmade road called Boat lane, and a couple of hundred yards heading up towards Standedge summit from the Diggle hotel, there exists a stone cross, just over a drystone wall in a secluded corner of a field.

I had a photo of the stone cross on my iPhone for a long time, but I appear to have deleted it.

The stone cross bears a simple name, it could be Tara, or it could be Trona. I forget, but it’s a name something along those lines.

I’ve always taken it to be the name of a horse, as boat lane was the route from Diggle to Marsden taken by the draft horses when the canal boatmen were legging through through the Standedge tunnel to and from Yorkshire.

I surmised that the beast died from whatever cause and was buried by the side of the road, although I have yet to speak to anyone who lives in the area that is even aware of the existence of the stone cross.

Just a useless bit of info.

Comment by: Helen of Troy on 5th June 2022 at 07:22

Life is full of useless info Ozy but it makes for interesting reading all the same

Comment by: Helen of Troy on 5th June 2022 at 08:50

Diggle....that rang a bell ....its in the Delph, Uppermill, ie Saddleworth area. Our son lives near Littleborough by the Rochdale Canal & when visiting him we have been all around that area. See, info that is not so useless after all, it got my grey matter thinking this morning.

Comment by: . Ozy . on 5th June 2022 at 11:30

Littleborough, now thats prompted the couple of remaining brain cells that I still possess to recall the catastrophic rail fire in the tunnel at Summit in 1984 that closed the track for 8 months.

Nothing to do with
Boby’s memorial I know, but who cares.

Incidentally, I found the missing photo of the stone cross at Diggle.
The inscription merely reads “ Tona “.

Next time you’re up this way Helen, see if you can get your son to run you down to the Diggle hotel.

It’s only a ten minute walk up boat lane from there.

You’ll find it on the right hand side, just over the drystone wall, at the very top corner of the field.

Don’t bother asking directions from any of the locals though, as most likely all you’ll receive is blank stares.

Oh!, and if you could time your visit to coincide with the
“ Yanks “ weekend which takes place in Uppermill on the 6th & 7th of august you’ll have a grand time.

All the best. Ozy.

Comment by: Rev David Long on 6th June 2022 at 11:42

You're right about the ignorance of the locals up there, Ozy. We took our boat through the Standedge Tunnel last year. Because it's so narrow, and the rough-hewn sides protrude at odd places, you're not allowed to steer your own boat through - a volunteer does it for you. My wife didn't fancy the 2 hours underground, so drove our car from Marsden to Diggle - and arrived after the boat had come through the tunnel because she couldn't find a local who knew where the tunnel end was.... Given it's the longest, deepest, narrowest in the country, you'd think there'd be a bit of local pride in knowing where it is.

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