Posted Jul 7, 2023
Are you considering a move to South Yorkshire? If so, you’re likely to have come across the vibrant city of Doncaster. This hidden gem has become an increasingly popular choice for both individuals and families looking for a dynamic place to call home.
In this area guide, we’ll delve into everything about this city if you are thinking of moving to Doncaster.
We’ll unravel everything from the rich history, diverse culture, excellent transport links, and a flourishing food scene that makes this city such an appealing prospect. Whether you love strolling through lush parks or indulging in retail therapy at high-end shopping centres, Doncaster offers a lifestyle that caters to all preferences.
History of Doncaster
It dates back to the time of the Romans who established a fort known as ‘Danum’ at the crossing point of two significant Roman roads around AD 71. This was later linked with York and Lincoln. The name Doncaster derives from this Roman fort’s title – ‘Danum Castra’, translating to ‘the fort at Danum’.
During the Medieval era, Doncaster further flourished due to its favourable location for trade and commerce. In 1194, King Richard I awarded it a charter granting permission for a market, boosting local economy significantly. The Great North Road running through the town solidified its status as an important post-town during stagecoach times.
The Industrial Revolution brought about immense change in Doncaster. It became a major hub for coal mining and rail engineering during the 19th century. The town notably housed locomotive works responsible for manufacturing famous models like the Flying Scotsman and Mallard. Being on the main rail link between London and Edinburgh, it grew substantially as transport enhancements led more industries to relocate there.
Modern-day Doncaster still echoes traces of its illustrious past while embracing contemporary developments. Today it boasts landmarks such as the Doncaster Minster with its impressive Gothic architecture, Conisbrough Castle showcasing Norman craftsmanship, and Brodsworth Hall reflecting Victorian affluence. However, it’s also home to modern attractions like Yorkshire Wildlife Park and Lakeside Village Shopping Outlet.
On 1st November 2022, Doncaster was officially recognised as a city. Subsequently, on Wednesday 9th November 2022, Their Majesties The King and The Queen Consort graced Doncaster with their royal presence to formalise the status upgrade. The ceremony included the bestowal of a letters patent; an official scroll that symbolises this honour.
Transport and commuting
Doncaster serves as a major hub in the UK’s transport system because of its strategic location that connects it with larger cities such as Sheffield and Leeds, as well as London.
Doncaster Station is on the East Coast Main Line and runs from London to Edinburgh. The station provides direct services to key destinations across the country, including Manchester, York and Newcastle. This makes commuting relatively straightforward for residents and visitors alike.
Bus services in Doncaster are comprehensive and frequent. A variety of local routes serve the city centre and extend out to surrounding towns and villages. Long-distance coach services provide connections to nationwide destinations.
For those preferring to travel by car, Doncaster boasts an extensive road network with easy access to several major motorways, including the M18, A1(M) and M1. This road connectivity facilitates commuting both within the city and beyond.
Despite being inland, waterway transport also plays a part in Doncaster’s history - it is connected to both the River Don and Sheffield & South Yorkshire Navigation canal. While these are no longer used for commercial, they still provide leisurely boat trips for tourists and locals alike.
Doncaster is home to the Doncaster Sheffield Airport (formerly known as Robin Hood Airport). It offers flights to Europe and domestically. It provides an excellent option for international commuters or holidaymakers.
There are plenty of schools and some of the well-known ones include Campsmount Academy, Ridgewood School, and Outwood Academy Danum. Each have their unique strengths and focus areas.
For students seeking post-16 education, Doncaster College is a significant presence. The college offers a broad range of apprenticeships and full-time vocational courses from levels 1 to 3. Catering to both youth and adult learners, the college serves over 13,000 students annually across various disciplines including Business, Engineering, Health Care and Arts.
If you are looking for broader choices or world-class research opportunities may consider nearby cities like Sheffield or Leeds. They host globally recognised universities such as the University of Sheffield or Leeds Beckett University.
In summary, whether one is starting their educational journey or looking to continue it into higher studies or vocational training, Doncaster’s diverse range of institutions offers plenty of options. From outstanding primary schools laying firm foundations for children’s future academic pursuits to respected universities offering high-level learning opportunities in various disciplines - Doncaster clearly shows that it values education.
Green Spaces and Parks
Among the most noteworthy green spaces is Sandall Park. Spread over 85 acres, this picturesque park offers a variety of leisure activities such as fishing in its large lake and walking or jogging around its well-maintained paths. It's ideal for picnics with family and friends because of its extensive grasslands and amenities like playgrounds and outdoor gyms.
Cusworth Hall, Museum and Park is another must-visit location. Not only does it host a historic hall built in the 18th-century Georgian era, but it also boasts expansive parklands that offer serene views of lakes and woodland areas. The park is home to several wildlife species adding to its charm.
On the southern side of Doncaster, Lakeside Lake provides a blend of modern development with the tranquillity of nature. Surrounded by a shopping complex and other urban facilities, this spot stands as an oasis amidst bustling city life. Beautifully manicured lawns perfect for relaxing walks or bike rides surround this body of water.
Besides these popular locations, smaller local parks such as Hexthorpe Park are scattered throughout Doncaster providing residents with accessible places to unwind without having to travel far from home.
All these green spaces offer something unique. They contribute towards making Doncaster a remarkable place filled with natural beauty.
There are plenty of places to work in Doncaster with some large employers.
Several large employers play a key role in driving the local economy. The provides Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust which includes the Doncaster Royal Infirmary provides a range of job opportunities.
As part of the logistics sector, Amazon has a significant presence in Doncaster with large fulfilment centres that employ many locals. Similarly, DHL also operates major distribution hubs here.
Next Distribution Ltd., one of UK’s leading fashion retailers, runs a substantial warehousing operation providing many job opportunities in retail and warehousing sectors.
DB Schenker Rail UK Ltd., based at the iPort, is an important employer in rail freight services. Wabtec Rail Ltd., headquartered locally, offers many jobs related to rail engineering and maintenance services.
Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council and Doncaster College are also among the top employers providing roles in public administration and education.
IKEA and Tesco also contribute significantly to employment opportunities within retail and customer service sectors.
With a sprawling collection of high street brands, independent boutiques, and local markets, the city is well-positioned to cater to every shopper’s whims and preferences.
The Frenchgate Shopping Centre offers a versatile space offers an eclectic mix of established chains like Primark and Debenhams and other smaller stores offering everything from fashion to electronics. A relaxed atmosphere coupled with a food court that suits all tastes makes it not just a shopping destination but also a socialising point.
In stark contrast yet equally compelling is Doncaster Market. Established in Roman times and still thriving today, this outdoor trading space bustles with activity four days a week. Well-known for its variety and quality of fresh produce including fishmongers, butchers and greengrocers; it also features stalls selling everything from clothing and accessories to homeware. The lively atmosphere makes any visit here more than just a shopping trip.
There are several noteworthy independent shops scattered throughout the city centre alongside vintage stores offering unusual finds. These venues often offer hand-crafted items by local artisans - perfect for unique gifts or one-of-a-kind statement pieces.
Whether you’re on the hunt for the latest high street trends or searching for something more unique or locally sourced - Doncaster’s varied shopping landscape has got you covered.
You will find eateries that cater to diverse culinary preferences. For those who appreciate fine dining, the ‘Old Weighing Room’ offers an upmarket menu featuring locally sourced food in the historic setting of Doncaster Racecourse.
For food enthusiasts interested in international cuisines, various establishments serve authentic dishes from around the globe. The ‘Thai at the Sal’, for instance, is known for its Thai delicacies, while ‘La Boca’ offers Argentinean cuisine. There are also several eateries such as ‘The China Rose’, which serves Chinese cuisine, and ‘Elachi’, popular for Indian dishes.
Pubs like ‘The Leopard’ or ‘Gatehouse’, provide cosy environments where patrons can enjoy traditional British pub meals.
Nightlife in Doncaster is alive and well thanks to the many clubs that line its streets. Clubbers are sure to find something to their liking as there are venues catering to different musical tastes – everything from pop anthems at ‘Flares’ to indie rock at ‘Vintage Rockbar’.
‘Biscuit Billy’s’ is a firm favourite amongst locals and visitors alike - offering themed nights throughout the week. Meanwhile, those who prefer a more relaxed night can head over to ‘The Hallcross’, which often hosts live music performances.
No mention of social life in Doncaster would be complete without acknowledging its rich sports culture. Be it watching horse racing at the renowned Doncaster Racecourse or cheering on the local football team at Keepmoat Stadium – sport forms an integral part of socialising here.
There are various festivals celebrated throughout the year, such as St Leger Festival and DN Festival of Light. They provide perfect opportunities for mixing with locals while enjoying music, art, and performances.
On sunny days one might take a leisurely walk through Sandall Park or have a picnic by picturesque Lakeside Lake – both popular spots among families and friends looking to unwind outside.
Local Villages and Towns
Bawtry is a quaint market town located southeast of Doncaster. It’s brimming with history and offers a range of trendy shops, eateries, and bars for visitors to explore. The Phoenix Theatre is one of its main attractions that provides high-quality entertainment. Not to forget the Bawtry Paintball Fields, known as Europe’s largest paintballing venue - it’s an action-packed spot not to be missed!
Just north of Doncaster, you’ll find Edenthorpe. Primarily residential in nature, Edenthorpe is home to several stunning parks perfect for leisurely strolls or picnics. Sandall Beat Wood is especially popular among locals and tourists alike for its natural beauty. Moreover, the area features numerous shopping outlets where visitors can enjoy retail therapy.
Lastly but definitely not least, there’s Branton. This village on the east side of Doncaster offers visitors a peaceful rural setting with plenty of outdoor activities available at the Yorkshire Wildlife Park. It’s one of UK’s leading walk-through wildlife adventure parks and gives guests the opportunity to get up close and personal with some exotic animal species.
Each destination outside of Doncaster has something unique to offer from historical insights to adventurous exploits and serene surroundings.
Landmarks near Doncaster
Among the most significant is Doncaster Minster - St George’s Church. This impressive edifice was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott and completed in 1858. Its Victorian architectural style, combined with imposing features such as a 170-foot high tower, makes it an undeniable landmark.
Another prominent landmark is Cusworth Hall, a Grade I listed building surrounded by picturesque parkland. Originally built in the mid-18th century for William Wrightson, this beautiful Georgian house has been magnificently preserved and now serves as a museum exploring Doncaster’s social history.
Furthermore, Doncaster is also home to Conisbrough Castle. With its round tower dating back to the 12th century, it offers a step back into medieval times filled with local legends and stories. The views from the top are simply breathtaking.
Lastly, there’s Brodsworth Hall and Gardens - one of England’s most complete surviving Victorian country houses. Standout features include grand reception rooms filled with original furniture and an intricately restored Victorian garden complete with summerhouses.
Cost of Living in Doncaster
Costs are considered to be lower than the UK average. Housing is usually the biggest cost for most people, and in Doncaster, it’s a rather favourable aspect. Whether you’re renting or buying a home, you’ll find that housing costs are significantly less compared to London or other major UK cities.
For utilities such as gas and electricity, prices are more or less consistent with the national average. The same applies to internet services. However, water bills can be slightly cheaper because of the local supply companies.
Transportation costs also play an important role in the overall cost of living. In Doncaster, public transport options like buses and trains are relatively affordable. For those who own cars, petrol prices hover around the national average.
Grocery shopping in Doncaster offers choices from budget supermarkets like Aldi and Lidl to more mainstream brands such as Tesco and Sainsbury’s. The cost of food items is on par with national averages.
The cost of leisure activities varies depending on personal preferences but remains fairly standard compared to other UK regions. Dining out can range from affordable local pubs offering traditional fares to high-end restaurants for special occasions.
Doncaster is much more than a mere dot on the map of South Yorkshire. It’s a city packed with possibilities. With its vibrant blend of education, green spaces, employment opportunities, shopping and socialisation options, it offers an enriching lifestyle for everyone. Whether you’re a local or a visitor exploring its charms for the first time, there’s always something new to discover in this dynamic city. So next time you’re contemplating a visit, remember that Doncaster is not just a destination - it’s an experience. Immerse yourself into the life of this remarkable city and enjoy all the treasures it has to offer.
There are plenty of places to visit around Doncaster as well, if you are looking for ideas then check our article on 20 places to visit near Finningley in Doncaster.
If you are considering a move to the area and looking for a property for sale in Doncaster then why not explore our selection of shared ownership properties in Doncaster at Woodlark Place?