RETRO: Take a tour of old Doncaster streets

A 1951 plan that remodelled Doncaster town centre is still attracting criticism decades later.

Saturday, 26th December 2015, 9:30 am
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Doncaster Corporation’s 1951 Development Plan, envisaged new roads and zones for a number of activities. The town centre was designated a commercial and business area resulting in the construction of an inner relief road, the east by-pass, southern relief road, as well as the remodelling of the town centre. Commercial premises, public buildings and rows of houses were demolished as the plan took shape.

Station Road

Station road had so many splendid edifices, but now, apart from the Grand Theatre, they have all gone. Once familiar to several generations, and depicted on countless picture postcards, it is now unknown to many.

Station Road was formally opened, amidst pomp and ceremony, on 31st August 1882 by Mayor Charles Verity and members of the Doncaster Corporation. The authority received an apathetic response when offering building plots of land for sale along the new road during 1884. nterest gathered pace during the following decade when W.E. Clark’s premises (later Edwards Motors Ltd), the Glyn Temperance Hotel, Doncaster Co-operative Society’s Stores, the Grand Theatre and the Oriental Chambers were erected. Consequently, Station Road made a good impression on anyone entering the town for the first time from the railway station. When the Corporation introduced the town’s tramway system in 1902, Station Road was the town centre terminus for most of the routes. Many people have fond memories of one particular place- in the 1950s Priestnall’s Cafe. This was the age when coffee-bars were popular, and there were several in Station Road, the most notable being Priestnall’s, which fronted the former Glyn Hotel at the Station Road/Factory Lane junction.The ‘Hollywood Doubles’ concert at the Grand Theatre, the beautiful lamps projecting from the Cooperative Society’s building, and the newsvendor selling the Green Un at the West Laithe Gate Corner are also fondly remembered.

Arguments about the wisdom of Station Road’s demolition may come from two camps. One will submit that the town has been robbed of some of its best Victorian townscape, deprived of a valuable open space and that a splendid approach to the railway has been obliterated. The other will say that the buildings were falling into disrepair and not adaptable and that the town was in desperate need of more shopping areas.

Arthur Street

Arthur Street currently forms a part of White Rose Way, which leads to the M18. According to local historian C.W. Hatfield, in Historical Notices of Doncaster (1868): ‘Arthur Street, uniting St James’ Street South [later Bentinck Street] with Carr Grange and the Carrs beyond, was set out by William Marrett esq, solicitor, on the 4th of August, 1854. With the approval of the rest of the landowners, he christened it “Arthur Street”, in compliment to his son - “Richard Arthur Worsop Marratt” , born December 20, 1853’.

Arthur Street house-building continued throughout the remainder of the 19th century and even into the 20th century. Some of the houses were built by A. Jones, Thomas Sails, and E.J. Barber. Eventually there were approx. 58 Arthur Street houses, the odd numbers (1-53) were on the eastern side, the evens (2-58) on the west. Numbers 23-47 had small front gardens, and the land behind some dwellings on the western side was lower than at the front. Consequently, the cellars of these properties were visible from the back gardens. Additionally, numbers 14-22 were cleared around 1930 for an extension to Hyde Park Schools.

The remaining Arthur Street properties, along with those in the neighbouring Wellington Street, Nelson Street and a number on Carr House Road were cleared as the result of the 1968 Hyde Park Compulsory Purchase Order.

Camden Street and Camden Place

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The 1852 O.S. map of Doncaster shows the area eventually occupied by Camden Street as an open field. The street extended from the St Sepulchre Gate/Cleveland Street junction to St James’ Street, and contained approximately 18 houses. Additionally, on the street’s eastern side, at the Cleveland Street junction, was a shop belonging to the Cooperative Society. On the opposite side was the Thatched House pub. At the St James’ Street junction, there was an off-licence on the eastern side, and the Camden Arms on the west. Branching from this side, yet snaking round to St James’ Street, was Camden Place, consisting of 16 dwellings. These houses were small, terraced properties, two-up-two-down; some had kitchens on the back. Many had shared toilets. The Camden Street properties’ main features included bow-fronted windows, and pediments over doorways and first-floor windows. House building began around the mid 1850s and the 1861 census reveals that only 10 of the 18 properties were occupied. The heads-of-households occupations’ included a Primitive Methodist Minister, an Inland Revenue Officer, plasterer and moulder, railway clerk, artist portrait painter, general agent, foreman tailor and grocer-and-provision dealer.

By the outbreak of World War Two, Camden Place had been cleared under the Corporation’s slum clearance programme, and several air-raid shelters were then erected in the vicinity.

Camden Street, itself, was cleared as the result of the Central Area Number 1 Compulsory Purchase Order 1956. The Thatched House was not included in this, but was subsequently demolished to facilitate road improvements.

Cartwright Street

Cartwright Street is the thoroughfare which extends through the Golden Acres precinct from Cleveland Street to Waterdale. The street was named after Edmund Cartwright, the inventor of the power loom. From the 1820s, most of Doncaster town centre house building certainly began apace. A town map, reproduced in Hunter (1828), shows Cartwright Street unnamed, but with seemingly a small block of properties on its western side. By cross-referencing various 19th century maps we can see that Cartwright Street house building was slow and spanned a considerable period.

An 1852 O.S. map shows that on Cartwright Street’s eastern side there were approximately 21 properties and that these had short back gardens. On its western side there were 19 properties with long gardens. Visible on both sides of the street’s northern end are vacant plots of land. Later, three-storey properties were built on some of these areas. The 1861 census reveals 45 heads-of-households, which was an increase of nearly 50 per cent on the survey done 20 years earlier. Several well-known town traders were residents, including George Smith, coach builder; Dennis Roberts, draper; and John Foulston, tailor.

The census thirty years later shows fifty heads-of-households, though some of the properties had been converted for multiple occupation.

The Doncaster Chronicle of 12th February 1959 announced that Cartwright Street would be demolished under the Central Area Number 3 Compulsory Purchase Order. Thereafter, the Golden Acres site was developed.