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.)

Kirk out

3 thoughts on “Doncaster

  1. That was an interesting video, so thank you for sharing. The Doncaster group are a lot more thoughtful and intelligent than most of their Leave brethren, which made me wonder – how do they feel about effectively being on the same side as Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, Nigel Farage, Nigel Lawson and those other revolutionary comrades?

    The decline of Britain’s industrial towns may indeed have coincided with Britain joining the EU but one of the reasons Britain did join in the first place was that the kind of life those people enjoyed (lifelong secure employment, decent wages, good pensions, etc) was no longer sustainable Without the palliative of EU membership, the decline of those communities would have been even more precipitate and alarming than it has been.

    …and when one of them began to talk about ‘protectionism’, I did wonder what century he thought he was living in? That kind of argument (Tariff Reform v. Free Trade) split the country in the 1900s. I think it’s since been proved that Protectionism, for all tis superficial attractions, doesn’t work. Significantly, Donald Trump is a big fan of it….

    Then there is also Britain’s tendency, as a nation, to elect Tory governments, almost by default. In my lifetime, I’ve seen decent, averagely successful Labour governments turfed out for no good reasons other than that people felt ‘disappointed’ or ‘fancied a change’. It is highly likely, under the present system, that the economic stewardship of a Britain outside the EU will be entrusted to the Tories or some even more right-wing variant thereof. The ultimate aim of the Breixters (who outnumber the Lexiters by a vast majority) is to turn Britain into a kind of Singapore-on-Sea where average people compete with each other from the age of 15 seconds and are forced to work until they literally drop. Quite a few Brexiters – Redwood, Davies – have been honest enough to admit this.

    So, I think those people are misguided and Corbyn is misguided, too, if he thinks he can get away with it. He ought to remember: the only reason he is where he is today is because Remainers got behind him in 2017 and saved his bacon. A bit of reciprocity would not go amiss!

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