Doncaster in the Political Spotlight

The Directly Elected Mayor:

  • is the council’s political leader and is elected by constituents on a four-year term of office
  • has executive powers and is responsible for the effective implementation of council policy and delivering services
  • has eight cabinet members to advise and support her – each cabinet member has a specific portfolio responsibility
  • Ros Jones is the current incumbent ‘before becoming Mayor in 2013, she was a councillor for  for seven years working hard to make improvements in the community and support local residents. She was also Civic Mayor in 2009/10’ She won by 639 votes from Peter Davies.

The Civic Mayor for Doncaster (2016/17) is Councillor David Nevett


Doncaster Mayor
English Democrat Peter Davies replaced outgoing Doncaster Mayor Martin Winter  having campaigned for a cut in councillor numbers from 63 to 21. He pushed the Labour candidate into third place winning on the second preference system. The anti-EU former schoolteacher has also called for a referendum on the future governance of the borough and the end to council literature being translated into other languages. He is quoted “We have had a corrupt and spendaholic council and Doncaster is laughed at all over the country. I will get rid of the dreadful political correctness and introduce a refreshingly open regime.” Doncaster was  put into government intervention in 2010. The running of children’s services, was overseen by the government since 2009, has now been transferred to an independent trust.

Rosier View
Rosie Winterton (Minister for Yorkshire and Humber and Department for Work and Pensions at the last count) and MP for Doncaster Central grew up in Doncaster and is proud of the town’s rich and varied history as well as how it has helped shaped the country today according to her web site. ‘Doncaster stands on the site of the Roman settlement Danum. It is the largest geographic Metropolitan Borough in the country with an area in excess of 225 square miles… Transport coal and steel have been the core industries around Doncaster and Rosie reports how it was the first public proclamation that helped create the original Labour Party:
‘Thomas R Steels was a railway signalman working for the Great Northern Railway Company who moved to Doncaster in around 1891. In March 1899, Steels drafted a famous resolution, at the Good Woman public house on St Sepulchregate, on labour representation in Parliament. The motion called on the TUC “That this congress, having regard to its decisions of former years, and with a view to securing a better representation of the interests of labour in the House of Commons, hereby instructs the Parliamentary Committee to invite the cooperation of all the cooperative, socialistic, trade union and other working class organisations to jointly cooperate on the lines mutually agreed upon …….’
So I am left wondering if much has really changed?

Don Valley MP Caroline Flint is now the former Minister for Europe. Well I think least said! Flint was one of 98 MPs who voted in favour of legislation which would have kept MPs’ expense details secret but then decided to work from the back benches.With ‘the house’ expenses scandal maybe we have got a ‘Flippin’ Government’ with lots of fishy smells.


Doncaster has been badly served by local and national politicians for decades. They are not alone and several venerable northern communities are  in similar circumstances. Changes at Doncaster need time to evolve and it will be interesting to see how the town copes over the next decade.
In business there is a style of management referred to as Kipper Management, ‘Two Faced and no Backbone’.

Betwixed Leeds and Shipley Along the Canal

‘Leaving Leeds and heading towards Shipley’. The first 10 miles of the Leeds-Liverpool canal hold a lot of interest for walkers, fishermen and historians. It is a good 10 mile linear walk with pubs enroute at Newley, Rodley, Baildon and Greengates.

Canal pilons

The Canal of the Roses – History

From the Leeds Liverpool Canal Society records comes this short history. Do not read it if you have a nervous disposition about Lancastrian perfidy.

‘In the middle of the 1700’s, Yorkshire was a well established woollen manufacturing area, while Lancashire’s industries were still in their infancy. Consequently it was in Yorkshire that the canal was first proposed. In the 1760’s the merchants there were keen to improve the supply of lime and limestone from the Craven district. This they used to improve the fertilisation of agricultural land and to provide a mortar which allowed them to increase the size and height of buildings used for weaving. They also hoped to expand the market for their cloth by gaining access, via Liverpool, to the growing colonial markets in Africa and America. The route they chose was up the Aire valley to Gargrave, then through Padiham, Whalley and Leyland to Liverpool. They would thus have a fairly direct route to Liverpool as well as reaching the limestone country around Craven.

Canal chimneys
‘Leeds needs to repurpose it’s Victorian buildings’ or loose them!

When the Yorkshiremen sought support in Lancashire they found that Liverpool merchants were more interested in acquiring a good supply of coal for the town from Wigan. They suggested a different route, through Wigan, Chorley, Blackburn and Burnley, joining the Yorkshiremen’s line at Foulridge. The two groups fell out over this, though they eventually agreed to a compromise. The Yorkshire line was to be followed, but there was to be a link to Wigan, with work starting at each end simultaneously.

By 1777, when the canal was open from Liverpool to Wigan and from Leeds to Gargrave, the company ran out of money. Construction ceased until 1790 when the economy improved and more finance was available. By then East Lancashire was rapidly developing as an industrial area and the canal proprietors realised that there was a greater opportunity for trade around Blackburn and Burnley. The proposed line of canal was altered and when it opened throughout, in 1816, it had been constructed along the route first suggested by the Liverpool merchants.’

Waterside Activities

Rodley has an interesting nature reserve mid way betwixed Leeds and Shipley on the canal side.
Apollo Cruises operate a boat bus service from Shipley in summer. It runs through Saltaire past the Fishermans Inn at Dowley Gap and over the aqueduct to the foot of 5 Rise Lock at Bingley. You can also hire a boat for c.30 people with a meal provided as I did for my 50th birthday. The Pie and Peas were amongst the tastiest I had eaten but I put that down to the drink license and the fresh air.

Walks abound around this area as the river Aire runs parallel to the canal for many miles. Formal walks are provided by the Waterboard or most bookshops but you can usually find your own circular route back to the starting point of take the Towpath Trod.

Book Cover

Fishing except under overhead cables, playing in parkland at Roberts Park and woodland activities at Hirstwoods are all available along the canal near Shipley and families can find a lot to do. For a day out you can do a deal worse than take the fresh air and exercise along Yorkshire Canals.

There is always something interesting to see alongside a canal withold mill chimneys and odd buildings as you enter the Shipley section from Leeds. The view from opposite the towpath at a boat turning circle at Dockfields and there is a wonderful old packhorse bridge (junction bridge 208) on the left sadly in need of a bit of TLC. This junction should be the start of the reopened link to Bradford, when they get cracking, the new canal side apartments will doubtless rise in value (but not aesthetic appearance).

Dutch canal in colour

This atmospheric photograph proves Holland also gets fog on the canal but it doesn’t smell as good as Yorkshire fog or our canal.

Middleham Facts Interesting and Unusual

Middleham has 5 airports and two major ports less than 90 miles away. It is nearer Manchester than Hull but less than 20 miles from Darlington or Ripon. So that puts Middleham on the map or almost.
Middleham is in tranquil Wensleydale on the river Ure.


Middleham Castle English Heritage

Middleham castle is known for being the home of Richard III until he was killed at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. The origins of Middleham castle go back to 1086 and ‘Alan The Red’, a nephew of William the Conqueror, who built the first castle in this Wensleydale beauty spot.
Under Kings Henry and the 16th century Tudors the castle was left to fall into disrepair. Despite some intervening refurbishment in 1646 Parliament ordered some walls be destroyed leaving the castle the shell it is today.

View from the top of Middleham Castle

Other Interesting Facts

Trooper Middleham the latest recruit to the Royal Household Cavalry is a horse named appropriately after this horse breeding and training village.
The Forbidden Corner is a local tourist attraction that claims to be ‘The Strangest Place in the World’. Discover for your self by going past Pinkers Pond on the Coverham lane.
As a home for 12+ horseracing trainers Middleham includes Mark Johnston has trained at least one hundred winners on the flat for each of the last 14 years. It is a record unsurpassed in the history of the British turf and makes Johnston the most consistent horse racing trainer in Britain.
Legend has it that Alkelda was a Christian Saxon princess who was murdered by two Danish women in 800AD and buried in what is now St Mary & St Alkeldas Church. Bones dating to the right era were discovered and reburied when the church was undergoing repairs.

Middleham Castle

The flag is showing the logo of English Heritage that now look after the Castle.
Jervaulx abbey is a local attraction and you can also visit Rivaux, Fountains and Coverham on Abbey tours.
Middleham is a great dales village well worth a weekend visit. Our Badminton club trip stayed at the Richard III hotel which was really just a good pub.
The gallops can be very cold in winter and that may be a reason why Middleham trains such hardy horses.

Photo Credits
Middleham by lisabatty CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
View from the top of Middleham Castle by lisabatty CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Middleham Castle by rofanator CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 ‘Got up really early today and went for a drive with the intention of ending up at Rievaulx Abbey. I went via Middleham to see the impressive castle and it was well worth the detour, even though it was a couple of hours before the gates opened but I still got a great view from the outside.’
full gallop by scpgt CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Quarry Hill Flat Flats

Quarryhill flats will remain in the memory of many Leeds folk as will their unseemly demise. Leeds had it’s share of squalor and slum housing after the World War in the 1920’s.

Rev Charles Jenkinson a friend of the ‘Red Vicar’ Conrad Noel stood as a labour candidate for Leeds Council. After election he produce a paper on slum clearance that ultimately led to the building of the Quarry Hill Flats. The Director of Housing R A Livett and Rev Jenkinson visited France and Vienna in 1934 to inspect municipal tenement complexes (workers flats)  including the massive Karl Marx Hof. Then building at Quarry Hill commenced based on a plan for 5000 flats.

They were built on a quick,  structural system of pre-cast ferro-concrete cladding, mounted on steel frames. They needed less skilled labour and post war this was seen as a positive aspect of the development.  By 1941 the flats provided accommodation for 3,280 people.

Social Dimension

  • The development housed shops, apartments, laundries and a range of communal facilities.
  • Only 40% of the area was built on the balance was for roads and communal space.
  • Old communities from those displaced by demolition were not all keen to live in the new ‘tenements’
  • Lifts and and a chute based waste disposal system were included although the later was a bit of a failure.
  • Many flats were filled with none local residents including overseas visitors.
  • Oral history in Leeds has a series of commentaries and personal histories that are evocative of the era. link

1. ‘……York Road to get the bus into town and, of course, everywhere you walked, the flats were just there on the skyline; massive, often looking a bit austere. I always remember them as being off white and grey, and our parents telling us that… that inside the flats was full of nasty people…’

Steve Farley 1 by The Oral History CompanyThe Oral History Company

Quarry Hill Problems

  • The second World War interrupted the development.
  • Public policy was not clearly implemented or failed. Support for tenants was poor or none existant
  • The new build techniques were very expensive to maintain and repair.
  • Rusting below ground was a serious threat and the buildings life expectancy had been dramatically over estimated.
  • Black spots, vandalism and intimidation developed within the estate. The site was ghettoised.
  • The lifts worked but the revolutionary waste disposal system was an expensive failure.
  • Despite the working class public spirit and demands for action the council failed to tackle and solve the issues.

What Happened Next

  • In 1972 four options were put to council none included full renovation and retention.
  • The flats were demolished between 1975 and 1978. see picture above
  • Karl Marx Hof has been refurbished and maintained. It is still the longest residential building at 0.68 of a mile long.

Karl-Marx-Hof (Vienne)
This is how Quarry Hill should look like today! (thanks Karl-Marx-Hof (Vienne) by dalbera CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)


1. Quarry Hill Flats, Leeds, Yorkshire (Dr Neil Clifton) / CC BY-SA 2.0

2. Quarry Hill Flats, Leeds during demolition. (Alan Longbottom) / CC BY-SA 2.0

3. Oral History of Quarry Hill

4. ‘Memento Mori – The Flats at Quarry Hill Leeds’ by Peter Mitchell

5. Housing

Bridlington Facts – Interesting and Unusual

Bridlington Groynes

Brid or Bridlington to give it it’s Sunday name is a popular seaside resort with sandy beaches and an interesting harbour. The Groynes are wooden defences that run out to sea and protect the sandy beaches from adverse weather.
The harbour is very tidal as the pictures below show.


As a family resort there are many amusements, rides and arcades. You can’t always rely on getting a prize in the arcades so you must have your fun from taking part.
To feed the kids there are more ‘chippy’s’ than you can shake a cod or haddock at.


Bridlington Market day at King Street is Wednesday but it is usually open Friday-Sunday in the season.

Night life for the adults includes the ‘Shades’ night club below as well as pubs and the Victoria Sailors and Working Men’s C& I Union affiliated club. Don’t sailors work then or are Victoria sailors different?


Sundry Facts

  • When the Domesday book was written Bridlington was named Bretlinton in the Howton Hundred. In Yorkshire we were more accustomed to use the Norse ‘wapentake’ to replaced several Anglo-Saxon hundreds.
  • A small fishing port grew up near the coast known as Bridlington Quay.
  • After the discovery of a chalybeate spring, the Quay developed in the 19th century to become a seaside resort.
  • The railway station opened on 6 October 1846 between the Quay and the historic town.
  • Victorian tourists visiting Bridlington needed entertainment and in 1896 the New Spa and Gardens were opened. The theater still holds audiences of 1000 and the Royal Hall 3000.
  • Leisure World boasts 3 pools, including a fun pool with waves, slides, rain storm effect and water features, a 25m training pool and a learner pool.
  • Neighbouring resorts include Flamborough, Hornsea and Withernsea with the RSPB bird watching site at Bempton Cliff just to the north.
  • The Bridlington “land train” goes all the way out to Sewerby and the gardens and Hall.


Bridlington Humour

If it’s the tourist season why can’t we shoot them?

Q. Why do only ten per cent of Bridlington men go to heaven?
A. Any more and it would be hell.

Read more Yorkshire Facts for the interesting and unusual.

Colours of the Seaside at Bridlington

The Bridlington carnival is a tradition highlight of the summer season, and is fun for all the family with a parade, entertainment, competitions and various shows including custom cars and a dog show. Visit  Bridlington on Sunday 7th August 2016 for this cliff top bonanza.

Ripon Of Men and Fishes

The founders of Ripon St Eata and St Wilfrid were fishers of men in the Middle Ages. The Cathedral, containing one of Europe’s oldest crypts, was founded on the ruins of St Wilfrid’s Abbey about 672 AD, the small crypt is Saxon is called St Wilfreds Needle. In 686 AD the diocese was combined with York and there was no Bishop of Ripon from then until 1836. The present building was begun by Archbishop Roger (1154-1181),with the transepts and portions of the choir still existing. The western front and towers are fine specimens of Early English and believed to be the work of Walter de Grey, Archbishop of York.

Ripon is said to have been made a royal borough by Alfred the Great, and in 937 AD, Athelstan is stated to have granted to the monastery sanctuary status, freedom from toll and taxes, and the privilege of holding a court. There was a ring of Sanctuary Crosses around the City and whilst only one original remains a facinating walk has reconstructed and linked others with replicas. Around 950 AD the monastery and town were destroyed by King Eadred during his expedition against the Danes and again by the Normans in 1069 AD but they were rebuilt by the archbishops of York.
Ripons hey-day was during the twelfth to sixteenth century before the woolen industry moved to Leeds, Bradford and the West Riding towns. Ripon was also famous for its school of carvers who made the Cathedral misericord and supplied choir stalls to other places of worship including 68 stalls for Beverly Minster in 1520.

The first Ripon fair was in 1100 AD and there is still a thriving Thursday market in the square. In the square is an obelisk built in 1780 which is surmounted by a horn. This symbolises the custom of a Wakeman or watchman blowing a horn at 9.00 pm daily as he took over the safety of the City for the night. The horn is still blown though the Wakeman was superseded by the first Mayor in 1604.

Ripon takes its name from Ripum or Ripa ‘on the banks’ and indeed there are the banks of three rivers the Ure, the Laver and the Skell meeting in Ripon.

Continue reading Ripon Of Men and Fishes

Slack Bottom and Slack Top Facts


If you have a ‘slack bottom’ worry not. Slack is a hamlet approximately 2 miles from the centre of Hebden Bridge. From the Halifax direction there is no right turn up the hill at the Slack traffic lights so you need to use the Heptonstall turning circle.


Romans established a small military fort and named it Camulodunum after the ancient Celtic War-God, Camulos at the top of the hill we now call Slack Top. There didn’t seem to be much evidence of the old fort and it was probably abandoned in by the middle of the second century. (British Kingdoms)

Slack Bottom stone ‘itself is very nicely eroded and seems of good age, as well as being a good near-six-foot tall specimen of a standing stone, just above the tree-line south of Hebden Dale. The stone gets its name from the fact that it’s at the bottom end of Slack village (which is actually called ‘Slack Bottom’ – with a house-sign there above the door to prove it!). It may be part of what was originally some original Iron Age walling instead of an authentic standing stone.’ Megalithix

From 1902, a railway ran from Slack to the construction site of the Walshaw Dean reservoirs, carrying men and materials. A shanty town, nicknamed Dawson City, sprang up at Slack.

Slack Top

Situated at a height of 900ft in the Pennines Slack boasts a plant nursery where tough plants flourish “If it’ll grow up here, it’ll grow anywhere”. It is a small nursery, but one of the UK’s top ten suppliers of Alpines. They offer and gave me expert advice on plants for my rockery and claim to have plants for ‘all garden situations – from damp shade to full sun and all things inbetween!’ Attached to the nursery is a naturalistic garden, begun in 1980 and spanning approximately a quarter acre. It is in a beautiful setting overlooking moors and woodland and a deep valley. Slack Top Nursery. The Persicaria plant picture was taken in the garden by the pond.

Slack is good walking country on the opposite side of the valley over Hebden Water to Hardcastle Crags. The National Trust has Four circular walks, ranging from three to seven miles. Gibson Mill is a national trust property and visitors centre using sustainable energy.

Slack Top Christian hostel was rebuilt in 1878, and is situated in the hamlet of Slack, surrounded by beautiful, wild, unspoilt countryside. ‘ Slack Top is for everyone; it is for the whole family, your church group, fellowship, friends to share; but mainly for you.’

Slack Bottom!
Slack Bottom! by le chanoine, on Flickr under creative commons license

Aldborough Facts Interesting and Unusual

Aldborough Cross
Aldborough is a pretty village 15 miles northwest of York and just to the south-east of Boroughbridge. It has a village green and Maypole but is famous for having being built on the site of a major Roman town, Isurium Brigantum, which marked the crossing of Dere Street over the River Ure.

What did the Romans Ever do for Aldborough

  • Aldborough was originally called Isurium Brigantum and was probably the base of the Ninth Legion.
  • It was the ‘capital’  for the Romanised Brigantes, the largest tribe in Britain.
  • Romans left enough remains to create a  museum now run by English Heritage. It contains a number of relics of the Roman town, including some colourful and special mosaic pavements.
  • One corner of the defences is laid out amid a Victorian arboretum where  two mosaic pavements can be viewed in their original positions.
  • The site museum has an outstanding collection of Roman finds and objects, pottery, ornaments, coins, etc and other ‘hands-on’ aids for children and families.

More Modern Facts

  • A plaque near the village green commemorates the RAF crew who lost their lives but avoided crashing into the village.
  • The stocks in front of this plaque were removed from the square in Boroughbridge, when the medieval church in the square was demolished in 1851.
  • The local hostelry is called The Ship Inn, Aldborough
  • In the 18th century Aldborough was a pocket borough returning 2 MP’s when big cities had no representation at the houses of parliament. Pitt the Elder was one such Aldborough MP. (perhaps the Romans taught us this form of government)

Continue reading Aldborough Facts Interesting and Unusual

Skelmanthorpe – Interesting and Unusual Facts

Book Cover
The Skelmanthorpe Band is one of the oldest brass bands in the country founded in 1843. They came first in the 2011 Holme Valley contest and are up for the Grand Shield on 14th May 2011.

Skelmanthorpe History.

  • Skelmanthorpe is in the Kirklees area near Denby Dale and has a population of less than 5000.
  • Originally Skelmanthorpe was believed to be called Shalman after a Hebrew word meaning peaceable.
  • It was established in the 8th century by displaced Jews from Holland.
  • The Skelmanthorpe Feast was a very popular event in the 18th century.
  • Turning from agriculture to weaving the area became more prosperous.

Kirklees Light Railway

  • Steam along behind Hawk, Owl, Fox or Badger, the four friendly steam engines from Clayton West via Skelmanthorpe and Cuckoos Nest to Shelly.
  • The 15″ narrow-gauge rail runs through superb scenery on the course of the track laid for the old original Skelmanthorpe line. This line was first opened in 1879 and closed in 1986.
  • New this summer at Shelley Station is a picnic area with sturdy benches and a train-themed play area with the addition of a sandpit!

Skelmanthorpe Worship

  • The Anglican church of St Aidan has an ikon of St Mary Sumner, hanging in the Lady Chapel. Mary Sumner founded the Mothers Union, an international organization of the Church of England, towards the end of the 19th Century.
    George Frederick Bodley designed this and other churches in the English Decorated Gothic style. He was a friend of several Pre-Raphaelite artists and William Morris.
    Bodley’s parish church designs became influential and include various parish churches plus Queen’s College Chapel, Cambridge, secular buildings for King’s College and Magdalen College, Oxford. Bodley was the also the architect for the Cathedral of St Peter and St Paul, Washington DC; St David’s Cathedral, Hobart, Tasmania; and All Saints Cathedral, Nagpur, India.
  • There is a Wesleyan church on Gibb Lane in Skelmanthorpe, a Methodist Church, the Trinity Evangelical Church and Saville Road Hall non-denominational.

Futurology for Skelmanthorpe

  • You can see the up-coming fixtures for Skelmanthorpe Cricket club on their web site. There are two crown green bowls clubs based at the Windmill Pub and in the centre of the village.
  • Skelmanthorpe along with the neighbouring villages of Scissett, Clayton West and Denby Dale have all been targeted for substantial housing development by Kirklees Council.
  • Skelmanthorpe Community Action Group continue to fight for a school crossing, to help protect our children, for improvements to road junctions, to improve safety and for repairs to our failing road system. They also keep an archive
  • The next big brass band competition will be The Yorkshire Brass Band Championships 3-4 March 2012 at St. George’s Hall, Bradford
  • Jobs or commuterland will be an issue in the area for at least the rest of this decade. Who can say what will happen.

Not Dull Hull – It’s a Hell of a City

The Maritime Weekender at Hull Marina  drew me to a City I normally only pass through on the way to the Ferry. Despite cool blustery weather the Sea Shanty singing along the Marina wall was in full flow despite the hands in pockets approach of one of the singers from Hissyfit. Bitter End had all the audience participating, Shellback Chorus had at least 15 singer and Kimbers Men sang in powerful bass.  As a music event in several pubs and outdoor stages it was fast moving, entertaining and well supported. Beyond the music there was other daytime entertainment and retail therapy set against Hulls seafaring history. 2017 is when Hull will be the UK city of culture

Walking from the railway station to the marina involved negotiating a street food market thronged with folk buying Yorkshire grub with the odd bit of exotic cuisine. This must have been specially designed to tempt me but I waited for Fish and Chips at The Green Bricks pub one of the singing venues on Humber Street. Moving on to The Minerva for more music and sustenance you got a good view of The Deep one of the ‘Visitor Attractions’ I didn’t have time to visit. This is home to 40 sharks and over 3000 fish in an area called a ‘submarium’.


Not Dull Facts From Hull

  • Its official name is Kingston upon Hull, it has two rugby league teams Hull FC and Hull Kingston Rovers.The premiership football team is Hull City Tigers and surprisingly after England Euro defeat we discover Hull is twined with Reykjavik Iceland.
  • People from Yorkshire’s only waterfront city are “Hullensians”
  • The boiled sweet and the liquid crystal display (LCD)  were invented in Hull
  • It is the birthplace of Lemsip, Humbrol modellers paint, Bonjela and Gaviscon
  • Aunt Bessie has the largest Yorkshire pudding factory in Hull
  • Famous people from Hull include, J Rank (Rank Hovis Mcdougall), Philip Larkin the poet, Amy Johnson the flyer, William Wilberforce who led the bill that freed slaves, former deputy prime minister John Prescott and the Beautiful South.
  • Hull’s Fair is the largest travelling fair in Europe and one of the oldest
  • Telephone boxes are cream and the telephone company is independent.

Hull Museums & Exhibitions

Continue reading Not Dull Hull – It’s a Hell of a City