ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Doncaster, South Yorkshire: a quick guide

Updated on April 30, 2015
Doncaster Minster and Canal Basin
Doncaster Minster and Canal Basin | Source

Doncaster, South Yorkshire

Doncaster is in South Yorkshire, about 20 miles northeast of Sheffield in the low-lying area of the Don Valley. The town currently has a population in excess of 125,000 but it is the administrative centre of the larger Doncaster Metropolitan Borough that is home to more than 300,000 people.

It is known mainly as a centre of industry, based on the coal mines that were formerly active in the area. It grew rapidly in Victorian times due mainly to the development of an important facility for building railway locomotives and rolling stock.

The history of Doncaster

The “caster” element of the place-name is a clue to its origin during Roman times, when the fort of Danum was built where an important Roman road crossed the River Don.

The place became a Saxon settlement and appears in Domesday Book (1086) as Donecastre. King Richard I granted a charter to the town in 1194 and in 1467 King Edward IV allowed for the election of a mayor.

The ancient streets of Doncaster have names such as Hall Gate, Baxter Gate and St Sepulchre Gate, which suggest that the town might have been fortified at some stage. However, there is no evidence that this was the case, with the word “gate” simply meaning “street”.

There are also street names, such as Priory Place and Greyfriars Road, that indicate the former presence of religious orders of which no other evidence remains.

During medieval times Doncaster was an important trading centre.

Doncaster rained loyal to the Crown during the English Civil War and was granted the status of a “free borough” by King Charles II as a reward.

The heyday of Doncaster came in the 19th century when the coalmines were developed and the railway reached the town. The Great Northern Railway opened its Locomotive and Carriage Building Works in 1853. This factory played an important role in the development of Britain’s railways, with more than 2000 steam locomotives built there up to 1957.

Other industries that became established in Doncaster included a tractor factory (which closed in 2007), synthetic textiles and confectionery.

The Doncaster Railway works in 1982
The Doncaster Railway works in 1982 | Source

Doncaster Racecourse

The history of horseracing at Doncaster goes back to the 16th century, although the current racecourse (two miles east of the town centre) was established in 1776. Doncaster continues to host the world’s two oldest named races, the Doncaster Cup and the St Leger.

The latter takes its name from Colonel Anthony St Leger who inaugurated the race in 1776. It was first run on the current Town Moor course in 1778, as a flat race for colts and fillies over 1 mile, 6 furlongs and 132 yards. It is the oldest of the five English “classics” and also the longest in distance run. It is run every year in September.

An aerial view of Doncaster Racecourse
An aerial view of Doncaster Racecourse

Things to see in and near Doncaster

The Mansion House was completed in 1748 and is one of only four civic mansion houses in England (the others are in London, Bristol and York). It was built as a place for corporate entertainment rather than as a residence, and some of the rooms bear witness to this purpose, notably the splendid ballroom with its musicians’ gallery. The Mansion House can be visited on specified open days.

Doncaster Minster, built in 1858, is an important example of Victorian gothic architecture. It is notable for its 170-foot bell tower and the enormous organ, built by the German firm of Schulze and Sons, that is widely regarded as one of the finest in an English parish church.

The Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery includes many interesting items, including a Roman shield that was found locally, as well as an altar from Roman times that bears a Latin inscription.

“Aeroventure” is the South Yorkshire Aircraft Museum, housed in the original hangars of what used to be RAF Doncaster. Exhibits include several complete aircraft, of which one is a replica of the plane in which Louis Bleriot flew across the English Channel in 1909. He later took part in an airshow at Doncaster Racecourse.

Cusworth Hall, on the west side of the River Don, is an 18th century mansion that houses the Museum of South Yorkshire Life. The beautiful grounds are also open to the public.

Conisbrough Castle, to the southwest of Doncaster town but within the metropolitan borough, is notable for its preserved Norman keep that is 92 feet high and with walls up to 15 feet thick.

Doncaster is not on the usual tourist trail, but a visit could prove to be unexpectedly rewarding.

Conisbrough Castle
Conisbrough Castle | Source

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)