Tag Archives: death

Donkey man passes away

A donkey on blackheath by flickr user Eat Your Greens
Len Thorne, who looked after the donkeys on Blackheath, next to the gates of Greenwich Park has passed away. Below are some of the comments that were posted on another post, remembering him.

The story was also covered by The News Hopper, and the same story appeared in This Is Local London.

According to their story, the donkeys will continue:

To book the donkeys, or find out about the funeral call Ms Ahmet on 07762 389 814 or email lorayne.aquilas@hotmail.co.uk

Below are the comments from the other post. Apologies for not managing to write this post sooner:

House of Joy wrote:

This is […] about the sad news that the Blackheath Donkey Man Len Thorne died last week on 11th July. Flowers mark the spot nearest to where the donkeys were and there is a notice giving his family’s phone numbers. Len devoted 64 years to bringing his donkeys to Blackheath. He was also an anti-war poet. A brave man. His Humanist funeral is planned to take place on the track – look out for news.

Jane True wrote:

“so sad to hear this… Len’s donkeys carried my bridesmaids through Deptford market at our wedding in ’97 , he was a lovely man. I was proud to be an honorary donkey girl. God Bless you Len .”

Michelle O’Brien wrote:

“This is the gentleman whose donkeys were alleged by the Daily Mail a few years ago to have been killed and eaten by immigrant gypsies (I forget where the Mail said they came from – Romania perhaps, possibly Bulgaria; anyway somewhere definitely “foreign”.)

The donkeys had in fact been at home in their field on Shooters Hills enjoying a well-earned rest from giving rides to kids on Blackheath for a few weeks.

The Guardian exposed the Mail’s story as a fabrication – a typical piece of anti-immigrant, anti-traveler Mail bigotry – and backed by the true facts launched a mini-campaign to get the tabloid to publish a retraction.

Needless to say, the Mail simply ignored this and let the story stand – with no retraction, no apology, and no acknowledgement of the truth.”

House of Joy replied:

“Absolutely correct in all you say Michelle. Thank you. It says it all about the Daily Mail. Mr Thorne was a serious, thinking man, dedicated to his donkeys amd also concerned with world problems – not long ago he read to me an anti-war poem he had written. We used to discuss so many subjects when I visited him, May he rest in peace and also get the Humanist funeral he wished for, right there on the donkey track.”

Jon Lee wrote:

“I seem to remember it being The Daily Star and Somalian refugees. But I can see that the Mail might have made up their own version of it.”

Blackheath Bird wrote:

“Michelle/House of Joy – While the gutter press may well have fabricated the bit about Mr Thorne’s donkeys being eaten by foreigners, surely it is true that some animals were actually stolen? I clearly remember a TV interview in which a female member of Mr Thorne’s family said she feared the donkeys had probably “entered the food chain” (her exact words), and Mr Thorne has referred to the theft in subsequent interviews over the years. There is of course always the possibility that animal lovers who dislike seeing donkeys used for rides could have taken them.”

ThePirateKing wrote:

“I remember talking to Len on Sunday and being very moved by just how upset he was about the recent theft of some young donkeys that had been taken from the field at Shooter’s Hill. So some animals were stolen for real. My hazzy memory places the recent in early summer. They included animals a few months old, I think.
Mr Bugle – any chance the news of Len’s sad passing might get its own front page slot. I only found it be accident here? Thank you, Sir.”

House of Joy wrote:

“Yes Mr Bugle – please put on front page – I don’t know how to operate this system in order to ask you. Pirate King – could you try too please? News of Len’s funeral not available yet. His wish is for a service on the donkey track before the cemetery.”

Photo is by Flickr user Eat Your Greens.

5 Comments

Filed under blackheath

Bin Laden’s Death: The Blackheath Connection

James Abbott dressed as an Indian noble. (B. Baldwin, 1841)
Abbottabad (the city where Bin Laden was killed late last night) has a strong connection with Blackheath. From Neil Rhind (author of the seminal books about Blackheath):

Bugler – Good morning. Thought your readers would like to know the following before the national press get it wrong.

Abbottabad. in Pakistan, now famous/notorious for being Osama Bin Laden’s place of execution, was named after a Greenwich man: General Sir James Abbott (1807-1896) who was born at No 5 The Paragon. He was one of three illustrious sons of the family of Henry Abbott, navy agent and Calcutta merchant. James was commissioned in the Bengal artillery in 1823; in 1839 he was sent to negotiate a treaty between Khiva and Russia, signing the terms in St Petersburgh, in 1840. He was Commander of the garrison at Hazara, in the Sikh War of 1849-50, and held it so tenaciously that he enjoyed the thanks of both houses of Parliament. Abbottabad was named after him. His memoirs of the Khiva campaign were published in 1843. His brothers, Augustus and Frederick, were also promoted to Major General and were knighted for their services in India and Afghanistan. The Abbott family lived in Blackheath from the 1790s to 1820. Abbottabad “ … a remote city in a valley …” suffered dreadfully in the earthquake in October 2005.

Many thanks to Neil for sending this in. If you live in Blackheath, then buy his books. They’re really, really excellent.

Image above is of Sir James Abbott (from Wikipedia). For more terrorism-related links about Blackheath, you might enjoy the shoe-bomber post, from a little while ago…

UPDATE: Below are two images, showing Abbottabad in the 1860s, and in the present day (also from Wikipedia) (thanks to Michelle!)
Abbottabad in the 1860s from WikipediaAbbottabad City at Night from wikipedia

4 Comments

Filed under blackheath, history