Doncaster is an industrial city in South Yorkshire in the north of England, with a population of 109,805 in 2019. It's a metropolitan borough which also includes the towns of Bawtry, Mexborough, Conisbrough, Hatfield and Stainforth.
"Donny" to the Romans was Danum. Their main highway Ermine Street ran from London through Lincoln to the Humber then to York, but ferrying across the Humber was sometimes impractical. So they created an alternative route through Danum that in modern times became the Great North Road then A1. Doncaster grew with trade but remained a small market town until the 19th century, when it industrialised through coal-mining. The South Yorkshire coalfield tilts, outcropping west towards the Pennines, having the best seams at Barnsley, and becoming unprofitable and deep to the east. So Doncaster itself didn't have mines but served the industry, especially through transport, with canals then railways. The railways began as a leash of company tracks between mines and wharves, then long distance routes were forged. Three sections linked in 1850 to create the East Coast Mainline from London Kings Cross to Edinburgh: Doncaster is about midway and became a railway engineering centre.
Much of the industry has gone, with the better coal seams worked out, engineering jobs lost abroad, and limited investment in the railways. Doncaster transitioned to service and light industry. This area, historically part of West Riding of Yorkshire, in 1974 joined the new entity of South Yorkshire, along with Sheffield, Barnsley and Rotherham.
Visit Doncaster is the TIC, in the Mansion House at the corner of High Street and Priory Place. It's open M-Sa 10:00-15:30.
Leeds-Bradford (LBA IATA) and Manchester (MAN IATA) are the closest airports.
Doncaster Sheffield Airport (DSA) closed in Nov 2022. Sometimes branded as "Robin Hood", it opened in 2005 on the former Finningley airfield six miles southeast of Doncaster. It always struggled to be viable, scoring well for passenger satisfaction simply because it was underused - you could park a few yards from the terminal and walk into a clean spacious hall. Every airport suffered from the covid slump, but Doncaster's mainstay was budget flights to Poland and Lithuania. These carried a few tourists but most passengers had family connections in East Europe, and this market dwindled through Brexit.
- Wikivoyage has a guide to Rail travel in Great Britain
Trains run every 30 min from London King's Cross to Doncaster, taking 90 min to 2 hours. They're usually heading for Wakefield and Leeds.
Other direct trains are from York, Newcastle upon Tyne and Edinburgh; cross-country from Bristol and Birmingham; and transpennine from Manchester Airport and Piccadilly. Frequent local trains ply to Nottingham, Sheffield, Leeds and Hull.
1 Doncaster station is within Frenchgate Interchange, next to the bus station and across the road from the shopping centre.
National Express buses take 4 hr 30 min from London Victoria to Doncaster. The afternoon bus NX567 continues to Hull, Bridlington and Scarborough; the overnight bus NX436 continues to York, Middlesbrough, Sunderland and South Shields.
Bus NX327 runs once a day from Birmingham via Leicester and Nottingham to Doncaster, continuing to Scunthorpe and Hull.
First Bus X78 runs every 15 min from Sheffield via Meadowhall, Rotherham and Conisbrough to Doncaster.
Bus X19 plies between Doncaster and Barnsley taking 45 min. It runs M-Sa every 30 min, hourly on Sundays.
Local buses meander through the lanes, burbs and industrial estates from Wakefield (Bus 496), Pontefract (Bus 408 / 409) and Gainsborough (Bus 98).
The bus station is within Frenchgate Interchange, separated from the railway station by a service alley. The airport bus is usually from Stand A1 immediately you enter. But make sure to look at the platform indicator here, because these are lacking down the long corridor of the station.
A1(M) bypasses town to the west; it's only two lanes and often congested. M18 passes to the south, connecting Lincolnshire to the M1 near Sheffield; this is three lanes and usually flows freely. There are Park & Ride facilities at:
- - White Rose Way, off junction 3 of M18, wih Bus 70 to town centre.
- - Doncaster South / Parrots Corner on A638, with Bus 55 - it lacks direct access to the motorway.
- - Doncaster North / Woodlands on A638, with Bus 50.
- - Doncaster Racecourse, multiple buses.
The main car park within town is in the Frenchgate Centre.
For Cusworth Hall take Bus 41 towards Scawby; it runs every 20 min.
For Conisbrough Castle take Bus X78 towards Sheffield and get off when you see the castle.
For Brodsworth Hall and Hooton Pagnell, take Bus 203 which runs M-Sa every 2 hours.
For the Wildlife Park, take Bus 57 / 58 as far as Branton. It's usually going to Finningley but sometimes wanders as far as Epworth in Lincolnshire.
Taxi operators are Absolute Cabs +44 1302 556688 and Drive Doncaster +44 1302 820282.
- St George's Minster, 200 yards from the Interchange, is a stonking great Gothic affair by George Gilbert Scott, who else? Note the clock by Dent (designer of Big Ben clock) and the 5 manual organ by Schulze. This Minster was never a monastery but replaced the Norman church that burnt down in 1853; it's now the Anglican parish church.
- 1 Danum Gallery, Library & Musum, Waterdale DN1 3BZ, ☏ +44 1302 734315. M Tu 11:00-17:00, W 09:30-16:30, Th 13:00-19:00, F Sa 10:00-16:00. In an attractive new building, the displays reflect the town traditions of horse-racing, railways and industry. Plus occasional visiting exhibitions. Free.
- 2 South Yorkshire Aircraft Museum, Dakota Way, Airbourne Road DN4 7NW, ☏ +44 1302 761616. Tu-Su Apr-Oct 10:00-17:00, Nov-Mar 10:00-16:00. The lakeside retail and leisure strip is built over the town's former airfield. This museum is packed with interesting exhibits. Adult £6.50, child £3, senior £5.50.
- 3 Potteric Carr was a large wetland at the north edge of Sherwood Forest, lost in early modern times to drainage and the railways, but then flooded in the 1950s when coal mining caused its subsidence. So the small remaining area has reverted to being a wetland, managed as a nature reserve.
- 4 Conisbrough Castle, Castle Hill, Conisbrough DN12 3BU (8 miles SW of town, take Bus X78), ☏ +44 1709 863329. Apr-Sept daily 10:00-18:00, Oct to 17:00, Nov-Mar Sa Su 10:00-16:00. Built in its present form in the 12th century and paradoxically preserved by being ruined: by the 16th C it was tumbling down and of no military value, and thus spared the assaults and castle demolitions of the Civil War. It was the setting for Scott's novel Ivanhoe, which launched modern interest in medieval times, especially the legend of Robin Hood. The castle has an inner and outer bailey and sturdy keep. Adult £7.60, child £4.60, conc £7.
- 5 Cusworth Hall, Cusworth Lane DN5 7TU (2 miles NE of town, take Bus 41), ☏ +44 1302 782342, email@example.com. Sa-W 10:30-16:30. Georgian mansion built 1740-45 hosting the museum of South Yorkshire life, and restored in 2007. It's set in picturesque landscaped gardens in the style of "Capability" Brown. Free.
- 6 Yorkshire Wildlife Park, Warning Tongue Lane, Old Cantley DN4 6TB (Bus 57 / 58 to Branton), ☏ +44 1302 535057. Daily 10:00-18:00. Beasts, mostly in open enclosures, include lions, lemurs, tiger, savannah creatures such as giraffe, leopard, baboon, polar bears, and South American. Adult £19, child £16.
- 7 Brodsworth Hall and Gardens, Brodsworth DN5 7XJ (4 miles west of town, take bus 203), ☏ +44 1302 722598. Apr-Oct daily 13:00-17:00, Nov-Mar Sa Su 10:00-16:00. This is one of the best examples of a Victorian Italianate mansion and contents. The beneficiary of an eccentric and long-contested Will cleared away the previous Georgian mansion and built this one 1861-63, and also acquired a flotilla of big private yachts. The upkeep was enormous, not helped by selling off the mineral rights, so that collieries undermined the place. It passed to English Heritage who opted to preserve "as found". The Hall contains a large collection of paintings and sculpture. The gardens are open from 10:00. Adult £14, child £8.40, conc £12.50.
- 8 Hooton Pagnell is a tiny but bijou hamlet on B6422, a mile northeast of Brodsworth Hall. Strolling round it will take barely 10 min but you can splurge and stay at the Hall, often used for wedding parties.
- 9 Trolleybus Museum, Belton Road, Sandtoft, Epworth DN8 5SX. May-Oct alternate weekends 10:30-17:00. This is the world's largest collection of trolleybuses, plus other historic vehicles including buses. See the website for opening days, which are usually alternate weekends in summer. You can ride several of the trolleybuses and even have a go at driving one. Adult £9, child £6.50.
- 10 Markham Grange Steam Museum, Woodlands, Long Lands Lane DN5 7XB (within Garden Centre). W and first Su of month 10:00-16:00. A personal collection of engines, occasionally in steam. Free.
- Epworth is east just across the boundary into Lincolnshire. Home of the Wesley family, founders of the Methodist church, it's on the mysterious Isle of Axeholme, meaning it's surrounded by turnip fields.
- 11 Roche Abbey is a ruin southwest just across the boundary into Rotherham.
- Cast, Waterdale DN1 3BU, ☏ +44 1302 303959. Eclectic, creative theatre, you'll seldom find trad rep playing here.
- 1 Doncaster Racecourse, Leger Way DN4 5DYB (east edge of town off A18), ☏ +44 1302 304200. This has regular flat-racing April-Oct and jumps racing in winter. The signature event is the St Leger in September.
- Football: Doncaster Rovers were relegated in 2022 so they now play soccer in League Two, England's fourth tier. They play at Eco-Power (formerly Keepmoat) Stadium, capacity 15,200, two miles south of town centre. In 2022 the stadium hosted matches of the Rugby League World Cup Finals, postponed from 2021.
- Rugby Union: Doncaster Knights play in the Championship, amateur RU's second tier. Their home ground is Castle Park east edge of town.
- 2 The Dome, Doncaster Lakeside, Bawtry Rd DN4 7PD, ☏ +44 1302 370777. M-F 06:00-21:00, Sa Su 07:30-19:30. This large leisure centre has ice skating, multiple swimming pools, gym and fitness classes.
- Cinema: Vue is between The Dome and the lake. Savoy is in town centre off Waterdale.
- Golf: courses include Doncaster Town Moor, Wheatley GC, Doncaster GC, Bawtry GC (below) and Crookhill Park.
- 3 Bawtry Golf Club, Cross Lane, Austerfield DN10 6RF, ☏ +44 1302 711409. The course is 6605 yards, par 73.
- Frenchgate Centre, St Sepulchre Gate DN1 1SW, ☏ +44 1302 368335. Daily. Large central shopping centre adjoining the railway and bus stations.
- 1 Lakeside Village, White Rose Way DN4 5PJ, ☏ +44 1302 366444. Daily. Large outlet shopping area near football ground, a mile from junction 3 of M18.
- Doncaster has lots of cheap and cheerful eating places but not much in the way of fine dining. The main strips are High St into Hall Gate, and Silver St into Market Rd and Nether Hall Rd.
- Cooplands, multiple locations. M-Sa 09:00-17:30, Su 10:00-16:00. Delicious home-baked goods. Sausage rolls and a cracking chicken pastie.
- 1 Mallard, Unit 14, Food Court Frenchgate Shopping Centre.
- 2 Vintage Bar, 64-66 Silver St.
- 3 Kian's Restaurant, 51 Copley Rd.
- 4 Top Meal, 4 Broxholme Ln.
- 5 Greggs, 19-21 Baxter Gate.
- 6 Turkuaz, 8B Nether Hall Rd. has good Turkish meze, with belly-dancing at weekends. £30-40.
- 7 Relish Bar & Grill, 19 E Laith Gate. Diner with booths, serving pizza, burgers and grills. £15-25.
- 8 The Mansion House, 12 Upgate. The grand civic building on High St, often used for weddings and the like. A good way to see it is to take afternoon tea there, usually served alternate weeks on a Tuesday or Friday. £15-25.
- 9 The City Restaurant. £30-40.
- Red Lion in Market Place is a JD Wetherspoon and a nice quiet little spot. They also have rooms.
- Masons Arms in Market Place has real ale and a huge selection of rum.
- Black Bull in Market Place is a large pub where you can sit inside or in the large beer garden.
- The Gate House on Priory Walk is another JD Wetherspoon.
- Others nearby include Relish Bar & Grill on East Laith Gate, The Lord Nelson on Printing Office St, and Saracens on Cleveland St.
- La Barracca, 56-60 Silver St. Cocktail bar
- Hogans, 24-28 Silver St. Sports bar and club
- Mambos, 14 Silver St. Downstairs club
- Others are Reflex and Rock-a-hula - Tiki bar.
- Brewery: Angel & Royal on Cleveland St is a brew-pub, open M-Th 17:00-23:00, F Sa 12:00-23:00, Su 12:00-17:00.
- Premier Inn, High Fishergate DN1 1QZ (next to Minster), ☏ +44 333 777 4645. Reliable budget chain hotel, very central. There are two more by Lakeside. B&B double £80.
- Mercure Danum Hotel, High Street DN1 1DN, ☏ +44 1302 342261. Now part of Accor group, good mid-range hotel. B&B double £140.
- Regent Hotel, Regent Square DN1 2DS, ☏ +44 1302 364180, firstname.lastname@example.org. Decent mid-range place. B&B double £150.
- Grand St Leger Hotel (Crab & Moo), Bennetthorpe, Doncaster DN2 6AX (jcn A18 / A638), ☏ +44 1302 329865. Budget place, tatty exterior but rooms and service get good reviews. Next to racecourse, one mile to town centre. B&B double £130.
- Travelodge and Holiday Inn Express have hotels in the Doncaster area, all within easy reach of the town centre.
- Hilton Garden Inn is next to the racecourse. The Campanile is half a mile east on A638 Bawtry Road.
- Lakeside is a lagoon near the football stadium. Hotels here are two Premier Inns, Travelodge, and Doncaster International.
As of April 2022, Doncaster has 5G from EE and Three, and 4G from O2 and Vodafone.
- Sheffield, just 20 min away, has fascinating industrial history and a lively atmosphere.
- York has kept its medieval walls and has many attractions.
- Lincoln is equally historic, a short drive or train ride.
- Sherwood Forest used to stretch all the way to Doncaster but its remnant is now 30 miles south: see the ancient oaks clustered around the forest village of Edwinstowe.
|Routes through Doncaster|
|Leeds ← Pontefract ←||N S||→ merges with → London|
|Sheffield ← Rotherham ←||SW NE||→ merges with → Kingston-upon-Hull|
|merges with ←||W E||→ Scunthorpe → Grimsby|
|END ←||W E||→ Scunthorpe|
|York ← Selby ←||N S||→ END|
|END ←||N S||→ Worksop → Mansfield|