Donkey rides return to Gorleston

THEY are as much a part of British seaside life as Punch and Judy shows, fish and chips and buckets and spades.And this week, donkeys were once again trotting across the sands at Gorleston for the first time in nearly 100 years after Parkers Donkey Rides opened a new base close to the yacht pond on Sunday.

THEY are as much a part of British seaside life as Punch and Judy shows, fish and chips and buckets and spades.

And this week, donkeys were once again trotting across the sands at Gorleston for the first time in nearly 100 years after Parkers Donkey Rides opened a new base close to the yacht pond on Sunday.

For the Great Yarmouth-based donkeys' owner, Andy Parker, 48, the move south of the River Yare is an opportunity to revive the nostalgia of a bygone era.

And, by coincidence, the last businessman to offer donkey rides on the Gorleston beach was also a Mr Parker - no relation - and the black and white photo, taken in 1912, shows him with seven donkeys at almost the spot where his namesake now operates.


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Although the father-of-three's latest venture is a more tentative step involving three donkeys, he was hopeful the Gorleston public and tourists would jump on board for the ride and enable the Gorleston donkeys to be as established as those at the two Yarmouth bases at Britannia Pier and the Jetty.

He said: “It was the thought of the nostalgia that motivated me, the thought that Parkers' donkeys have returned to Gorleston beach for the first time since 1912.

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“I will know by the end of the six week summer holiday period if I will be able to continue running the donkeys for future summer seasons. As long as the weather's good for the six weeks, and I can make a wage and it proves to be viable, then we will take it from there.”

The pleasure of being the first customer to revive the tradition went to Keegan Wainwright, who was visiting Yarmouth with his family from Bentley, near Doncaster.

Mr Parker's family-run firm, started five years ago, now owns 18 donkeys, six of which operate from Britannia Pier and three from the Jetty in Yarmouth during the summer, with an extra three - Darcy, Peanut and Tommy - now walking Gorleston beach on the day the Mercury visited.

Mr Parker said the donkeys were rotated so they had a day off each week.

The Mancunian, who moved to Merseyside with his family when he was a child, said he started the donkey rides because he felt Yarmouth was missing out on the joy he felt as a youngster seeing donkeys on the beach at Blackpool.

In April, the Mercury reported how the donkeys welcomed a new addition at their home at White Gate Farm, Caister Road, Yarmouth, when one of them, Lily, gave birth to Winnie.

Donkey rides are available at Gorleston seven days a week, weather permitting, 10-5pm, �2 a time.

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