Located on the banks of the River Don, Doncaster is a historic market town that is often heavily linked to its racing heritage. Based in the heart of South Yorkshire. It is also known for its links with the story of the railways and also has one of the oldest football clubs in England. Doncaster Rovers, with their iconic red and white kit, were founded in 1879 by Albert Jenkins, a fitter for Doncaster’s LNER Engineering division.
The large town is proud of its position in the north of England. Often referred to as simply “Donny”, to the Romans it was known as Danum. Ermine Street, one of the main Roman roads bisecting the UK ran from London through Lincoln to the Humber then on to York. However, getting across the Humber was sometimes not possible, so an alternative route via nearby Danum was planned out, a route that that in modern times became known as the Great North Road, and then more simply as the A1.
During the English Civil War, King Charles I marched his army via Bridgnorth, Lichfield and Ashbourne towards Doncaster. On 18 August 1645 he was met by great hordes of Yorkshiremen who had rallied to his cause and were enthused to serve their king. After the war was lost, and following the restoration of the monarchy, the town was rewarded with the title of ‘Free Borough’ by King Charles II as a way of expressing his gratitude for Doncaster’s allegiance to his father.
Doncaster remained a fairly quiet market town until the Victorian era, when the widespread industrialisation that was taking hold of the country hit the area. The town grew extensively through coal-mining, with several collieries springing up nearby, although these have all now closed down, with some being landscaped into parks. Due to the necessity of transporting the coal, the East Coast railway line arrived.
Emerging as an industrial centre in the late 18th century to 20th century has firmly placed Doncaster on the map, and even though the industry is largely gone, it remains a place of great interest to visitors and residents alike. Its communication links, particularly its waterways, meant that Doncaster became extremely busy and experienced vast migration to its centre. The town is now popular with tourists throughout the year, wishing to experience the various golf courses, museums, castles and the racecourse.
One of the oldest racecourses in the world still in operation, horse racing has happened in Doncaster since at least the 16th century, with the oldest cup – the St Leger Stakes – held at the Town Moor site at the end of the 18th century. The nearby village of Finningley is the location of the international Doncaster Sheffield Airport.
Doncaster is represented in the House of Commons by three Members of Parliament – two Labour and one by the Conservatives. Rosie Winterton represents Doncaster Central, Nick Fletcher represents Don Valley and former Labour Party leader, Ed Miliband, represents Doncaster North.
The town also has regular involvement in the Tour de Yorkshire cycling event, having the finish line of stage two, of the 2016 Tour de Yorkshire hosted in Doncaster, as well as the finish line of stage one of the 2018 Tour de Yorkshire hosted in the town as well.