I owe Doncaster an apology. Since the age of about eighteen I have pretty much been leaving to see other places, coming back, not liking it and leaving again. I’ve literally never thought to actually immerse myself in Doncaster a little more or make an effort to learn anything about it. I’m sorry Doncaster.
I was alerted via Twitter to regular heritage walks in the town centre held by Doncaster Tourism, and decided that could be good to blog about next. Learn a little history, meet the folks running the tourism office etc.
What I wasn’t prepared for, was to realise that I have been hugely ignorant most of my life to the history of this place. I learnt loads about Melbourne whilst I was living there, I would seek out history and interesting facts with enthusiasm. I was dying to learn the story of Cambodia, Laos and the other Asian countries I’ve visited. Why not Doncaster? Why turn a blind eye to the place that I’m actually from? If there’s one thing that travel has taught me, it’s to be open minded. That should apply everywhere, not just overseas.
I decided to go because I think knowing the history and heritage of a place helps to create a foundation for your impression of it. Also, I’m a bit sick of the bad press Doncaster gets from people – including myself!
The walks begin at the blue building which houses the tourism office and are lead by Andy and Steve – lovely chaps. I wrote down a fair bit of detail during the walk and took a lot of photos, but rather than giving it all away, I’m going to give you a few snippets of the parts that I thought were really interesting.
The blue building above, very noticeable when you look at it, but for some reason I’ve never really noticed it before! When in this town make a mental note to look up more, the beautiful architecture is very easy to miss because all of the shops take up eye level! The blue building belonged to a man named John Whittaker, who was a wine merchant. Mmm wine.
The reason that the fanciest windows are always on the first floor was because the serving quarters were on the ground floor – a trend picked up from Venice, however in Venice it was a tactical move due to flooding. Poor servants.
|I brought Chris & John along. Skeptical at first, but after five minutes enthralled. Heritage win!|
Famous Mansion House. Apparently, the road it’s on used to be the main road through the country. For example, if a businessman was travelling from London to York he would pass Mansion House on the way. He could be invited in for a break and of course, a business ‘chat’. It was essentially a money collecting device! Donny used to be the richest town in Yorkshire, and was even called ‘the Bath of the North’. Not actually that hard to believe when you have a proper look at the buildings here.
|Chris loves heritage|
This building is a bank and sits opposite Mansion House. You see the reflective windows? Deliberate, just in case passers by were looking the opposite way so they’d still catch a glimpse of it.
Staveleys (a paint store) is a little gem of a building.
A listed art deco building. I have noticed this place before and absolutely love the look of it, I’m a Gatsby girl at heart.
Other bits and bobs that I learned were that Parkinson’s butterscotch is originally from Doncaster, David Bowie’s dad is from Doncaster and Charles Dickens first consummated his affair with a lady called Ellen (who he left his wife for), in Doncaster!
There was a whole lot more we learned on the walk, but I want you to go and find it out for yourself if you’re ever in Doncaster. The walks usually last around two hours and cost four quid a head. Contact Doncaster Tourism for further info, or follow them on Twitter at @VisitDoncaster.