Seaside Donkeys

Seaside Donkeys

Everyone loves the seaside donkeys, it’s a tradition that goes back over a hundred years to Victorian Times, to the birth of the Great British Seaside Resort! Have a look at the seaside donkeys of the Fylde Coast.

Where can you ride a Seaside Donkey?

Times have changed and there aren’t as many groups of donkeys on the beach as there once were. But your children can still have a ride on the sandy beaches here on the Fylde Coast.

You’ll find them on central beach at Blackpool and at St Annes beach near the Pier. The groups stand in the sunshine, waiting for their riders.

Donkeys at St Annes Beach. Photo: Steve Ingham
Donkeys at St Annes Beach. Photo: Steve Ingham

They still have traditional names like Dolly, Daisy, Bronco and Bobby. And they wear their names on their bridles so children and parents can identify their favourite one.

Seaside donkeys on Blackpool beach
Seaside donkeys on Blackpool beach

There’s always an age/height/weight restriction on who can ride them, and sorry, but adults aren’t allowed! Their little saddles have a metal hoop attached so that junior riders can hold on tight and not fall off.

The donkeys are led in their group (of no more than eight animals) at walking pace along their short route, to delight their little riders.

Donkey rides

Welfare of Blackpool Seaside Donkeys

It’s a fair bet that. going back to the the late 1800’s, we would cringe today at the way the donkeys were looked after. Animal welfare was non-existent in those days for most types of animals. With the passage of time things have improved dramatically and there are now firm rules around the operation of seaside donkeys.

In Blackpool, the person who owns the donkeys has a ‘proprietors’ license to operate them on the beach. Each donkey driver (the person who walks them on the beach) holds their own license too. Licenses are renewed annually.

Welfare of Blackpool donkeys
Welfare of Blackpool donkeys

In 2018 DEFRA introduced new Animal Welfare Regulations which include the hiring out of horses.

In the past the groups of donkeys were brought to one Blackpool car park where they would be inspected by vets appointed by the council. That changed in 2019 because of the new rules. Now the vet carries out home visits to their stables.

In Blackpool there are five donkey stables, plus a couple of others outside the resort. They’re all checked, in a move to improve animal welfare.

Oh, and the drivers are expected to pick up their poo to keep the beach and sea water clean!

Did you know?

There are strict licensing rules which seaside donkey owners have to abide by, so that the animals are well looked after.

Donkey rides on Blackpool beach
Donkey rides on Blackpool beach
  • Donkey dinner time
    Did you know that donkeys have their lunch at 1pm? Their saddles are loosened at this time every day for them to enjoy their food and water
  • Donkey day off
    Did you know that Blackpool donkeys get Fridays off? Back in the mists of time, Friday was the day when holiday makers would arrive in and leave the town
  • Maximum load
    Did you know that rides must be under 8 stones in weight, or 16 years of age?
  • Modern donkeys!
    Blackpool donkeys were the first in history to accept contactless Barclaycard payments for rides!
Donkeys going home after a day at work
Going home after a day at work

History of Seaside Donkeys

When did donkey rides begin here on the Fylde? It’s believed that they date back to around 1890 in Blackpool, but it would be great to find some evidence and/or photos to prove it!

Donkeys on Blackpool beach at South Pier in 1901. Tuck Postcards
Donkeys on Blackpool beach at South Pier in 1901. Tuck Postcards

They were likely the draught ‘horses’ used in the cockling industry that were first used for children’s rides. It’s known that rides were first on offer way back in 1886 in Weston Super Mare and 1895 in Bridlington.

The Visit Fylde Coast Facebook Group had a chat about seaside donkeys in the olden days.

David Wall shared this photo of them on the beach at Cleveleys. The building in the background is Rossall Mount, a large house with outbuildings. The Beach Camp was later established in its grounds. Patricia Roberts also remembers the donkeys at Cleveleys, and them being joined at one time by a mule.

Donkeys on Cleveleys Beach in days gone by
Donkeys on Cleveleys Beach in days gone by

There were also donkeys on Bispham beach near the Norbreck. Cindy Sinclair remembers them being brought each day in a horsebox. Lora White used to see them in a pack of about 12, walking south to their stables along Fleetwood Road, past Mossom Lane where she lived as a child.

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2 Comments
  1. Avatar

    Hi

    It was actually during the 1830s, that donkeys graduated from carting packages and giving rides into the countryside, to providing tourists with a little excitement as they arrived at the seaside. It soon became big business, and in 1854, a group of Southport donkey men invaded Blackpool beach, but fled after a pitched battle with local owners.

  2. Avatar

    Hi, I was just wondering if anyone knows who have the donkeys on Blackpool Beach, I would love to Purchase two Retiring Donkeys, 5 ⭐️ Home awaits…please please if anyone can help..many thanks for your time..

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