I went to Doncaster yesterday and of course the first thing I did afterwards was to see if it’s mentioned in The Meaning of Liff. It isn’t, but in the process I discovered that there’s a Yorkshire Meaning of Liff inspired by the great Douglas Adams/John Lloyd volumes, and I have to say it looks like a belter. But I was there for a much more serious purpose, to visit Daughter and Bump and to see their new house.
She warned me the place looked like a bomb site and it wasn’t much of an exaggeration: the roof has been done but practically everything else is stripped out and remains to be filled in with better components. Rewiring needs doing, the kitchen and bathroom require fitting, fireplaces filling and replacing and – oh, gosh, just about everything. And they need to move in before August.
Anyway, it’s a good solid house, built like me in 1957 (an excellent year.)
Doncaster as a place is a little ramshackle. I was trying to get some sense of when it dates from but the feeling I get is that it’s like Leicester and only really took off in the 19th century, reaching its peak in the mid-20th when lots of industries were thriving. They’ve now all gone of course, and this was one of the main reasons Doncaster as a whole voted for Brexit; because there are no proper jobs, only crappy ones in the catering and service sector.
I remarked to Daughter as we walked around that the place seems full of Brexit bulldogs; macho men with mean faces and houses sporting flags. She agreed. But this video gives another perspective on the Brexit debate, offering what is generally called the Lexit perspective. I realise Corbyn has annoyed many by sticking to his position on Brexit, which is that the vote must be honoured, but I can’t honestly blame him: after all, he’s doing what most people admire him for; sticking to his principles.
But back to Doncaster, and one of the things I noticed was what turned out to be the Minster; a huge imposing building which sadly I didn’t get a chance to visit. Next time I hope to rectify that – but we did see the old Wool Market, now a covered marketplace with small shops inside, and the centre of the old town which again reminded me of Leicester. Yorkshire was of course a centre of the wool trade: an uncle of mine worked in that trade and did business with mills in Bradford and other towns.
I’m now going to look up the history of Doncaster and see how much I got right. Well! Turns out comparisons with Leicester were spot-on because there was a Roman camp (should have guessed that from the name) and a medieval town (mostly burned down in a fire) and it grew in the 19th and 20th centuries to roughly the same size as Leicester. The Minster, originally medieval, burned down in 1853 and was replaced later in the 19th century by the present building, though it only got Minster status in 2004. I’m not sure of the difference between a Cathedral and a Minster – I’ll have to look that up some time. In the 14th century Doncaster was the wealthiest town in South Yorkshire, which gives added irony to its current situation.
Anyway I look forward to seeing more of the place (and the Daughter, of course: I met the in-laws while I was there who were lovely people.)