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#451947 - 13th Dec 2010 5:28pm History, folklore or just custom?
Snodvan Offline

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Registered: 19th Mar 2008
Posts: 1250
Loc: Wallasey Village
A discussion with a buddy today moved on to cleaning practices "that yer Nan would remember".

The Donkey Stone to scour the step and/ or stone window ledge, then the white line that was rubbed on the step or window ledge edge with a lump of limestone or the like.

The History of the Donkey Stone is easy enough ie a pumice/ sand (of different types) and cement block used originally to scour the stone steps in the Lancashire mills so that they would not be slippy. "Donkey" was simply one of the brand names from Reads of Manchester.

But what about the white line? Does anyone know a History of WHY that was added at the end of the scouring process? It is easy to say that in the mills the white line would make the stair edges more visible and keep the 'Elf & Safety many happy - excepty there were no H&S men in those days.

I suspect it goes back a long, long way and has a root in something like "to keep the Devil out". Also I guess we all know about the old tale (which my mum firmly believes) about ants not crossing a chalk line.

The interesting bit to me is that my wife knows about the practice - because they do exactly the same in South America where she comes from. She has no idea why it is done.

Any comments, thoughts or even knowledge?

Snod


Edited by Snodvan (13th Dec 2010 5:29pm)
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#451975 - 13th Dec 2010 7:23pm Re: History, folklore or just custom? [Re: Snodvan]
bert1 Offline

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Registered: 27th Nov 2008
Posts: 7829
Loc: tranmere
I can remember my mum and aunties doing the steps, then we moved to a new house and that step got a coat of white paint. As far as the white line goes, i can remember as a young shipyard worker there was something the older blokes called a steam fly, only it didn't fly at all, when it was crawling along they would draw a circle of french chalk around it and it couldn't get out. Probably no grip, i suppose similar for ants.


Edited by bert1 (13th Dec 2010 7:24pm)
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#451985 - 13th Dec 2010 8:33pm Re: History, folklore or just custom? [Re: bert1]
ludwigvan Offline
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Registered: 6th Jan 2010
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I think steam fly is an old name for the cockroach.

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#688027 - 25th Apr 2012 5:36pm Re: History, folklore or just custom? [Re: Snodvan]
Capernicus Offline
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Registered: 30th Mar 2012
Posts: 43
Loc: greasby
If you check books about ships and the sea sailors did the same to the decks of the ships to clean them, they spent most of there time on there knees hence the saying Holy Stones.

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#688072 - 25th Apr 2012 7:58pm Re: History, folklore or just custom? [Re: Capernicus]
Tatey Offline
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Registered: 14th Apr 2009
Posts: 1412
Loc: New Brighton
Originally Posted By: Capernicus
If you check books about ships and the sea sailors did the same to the decks of the ships to clean them, they spent most of there time on there knees hence the saying Holy Stones.


The larger stones were known as bibles & the smaller ones prayer books.

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