Donkeys from the EAFA archives

Thanks to John Charmley, Director of the East Anglian Film Archive for drawing my attention to these short donkey clips from the archive.

Mr Grange is interviewed about his ‘donkey barometer’ on a beach surrounded by children. He explains to the interviewer that his donkey weather forecasters start biting each other and lift their tails up if bad weather is imminent. The former donkey racing champion believes his donkeys have saved some sailor’s lives.

The second clip is a lovely piece of footage in the true English documentary film movement tradition, showing the life of a working donkey Toby and his owner John Bone, in Cley-on-Sea.

Utilizing material from an About Anglia report from 1960 entitled ‘John Bone and His Donkey’, this item for Anglia Television’s Bygones series profiles an elderly vegetable seller from the Norfolk village of Cley, who delivers produce with a faithful donkey and a homemade cart.

John Bone is shown with his donkey tending to his crops, before setting out for the village to make deliveries, accompanied by his dog. Bone narrates his own story in a thick Norfolk accent, talking about his life and work and sharing anecdotes and memories.


Finally there is the sadstory of the closure of a small donkey sanctuary.

Retired donkeys are given a new lease of life at a sanctuary owned by Mrs. Knight, who is reluctantly closing the sanctuary and selling the donkeys. Interviewed by a BBC East correspondent, she talks about her involvement in donkey rescues, and admits to being ‘frightfully sorry’ that she needs to sell. Claiming to have had ‘masses of offers’ for the donkeys, she is determined to ensure they go to a good home.



About Gareth Thomas

After a mixed career as an aircraft technician, London fringe theatre playwright, Franciscan friar, and secondary school teacher, I find myself looking after the needs of four donkeys in a remote location in the mountains in the Costa Blanca. I like to listen to BBC Radio 4 and the wind in the pine trees. I am writing a comedy about a school in Benidorm. My favourite film of all time is "Jean de Florette". If I had my time again I would not have spent the early 1970s working for Special Branch.
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