THERE is a strong tradition of cleanliness around the home in Craven, which must be why so many readers were able to identify last week’s Craven Curiosities.

Brian Barker, of Cross Hills wrote: “These are ‘scouring’ or ‘donkey’ stones used to clean and decorate steps and window sills in the grimy atmosphere of industrial towns and cities before the introduction of the 1956 Clean Air Act. Well scoured steps and sills were considered a proud sign of good housekeeping.”

Among others who correctly identified them were Malcolm Taylor,

Mary Myers, of Lowgill, Cath Cooney, Ben McKenzie and Tony Phillips, of Barnoldswick.

Anne Read, of the Museum of North Craven Life at The Folly in Settle, writes: “So called because of the picture of the donkey on the front of many brands, these stones were used by conscientious housewives to provide the finishing touches to newly scrubbed doorsteps and paving stones. While the step was still damp, the donkey stone would be rubbed along the edge to provide a smart coloured border. Some people preferred a whiter finish whereas others favoured the almost ochre colour of the ‘Monkey Brand’ stone on the left of our photograph. They were made by grinding stone into a powder and mixing it with cement, bleach and water. The mixture was formed into blocks and placed on racks to dry out. They were widely stocked by local ironmongers and our examples came from Manby’s in Skipton in the 1960s.”

This week’s Craven Curiosity is pictured, top. Send your answers to: by 8am on Monday, with ‘Craven Curiosities’ in the subject box.