23 May 2014

Doncaster - Heritage Walk

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.

Clever clever!

The post office - the fancy chimney was the brick layer's way of showing off his skills.



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.