Doncaster – A History of Locomotion

flying scotsman

Doncaster has a rich background with locomotives, and the locomotive industry. 

Today we will look at the history of this, and some facts and figures you may not know!

Doncaster has a large industrial background, and the town boomed at the time of the industrial revolution. Doncaster was known for Milling, Wire mills, and steel foundries. As we know, this means of production is nothing without export, and this is where transportation comes in. 

Railways were essential to the industrial revolution and helped to transport goods around the country, for instance, Doncaster to Sheffield train, and the Doncaster to Rotherham train which would have moved steel, and other goods. 

Doncaster Works

The works Doncaster is perhaps one of the most well known names to be associated with the town. Also informally known as ‘the plant’ Doncaster Railway Works was founded in 1853 to build trains, and other items required for the upkeep of the railway. 

Most notably, Doncaster locomotive Works produced the Flying Scotsman, the record breaking first train to reach 100mph, and the Mallard – the fastest steam locomotive in the world. 

Known for Innovation

The plant also invented and created the first sleeping cars, the first dining cars and the first corridor coaches. The corridor coaches opened up a new way to travel in more luxury than ever before. With passengers having their own compartment, with area for storage above them on racks above their head. This opened up a lot more opportunity for storage, and alleviating space issues that could have accumulated with their being a luggage cabin, and allowed for more passenger cars.  

Steamer Trunks

steamer trunk
steamer trunk

Not being ones to travel light, you may have seen the Steamer Trunks that the Victorians and Edwardians like to travel around with. These luggage trunks were often large, and distinctive, and not too portable. The Victorians also used wardrobe trunks, which were portable wardrobes on wheels.

Cabin Trunks

Known as ‘Cabin Trunks’ because their reinforced wooden outer made them durable enough for life on trains, ships, or bumpy coaches.

Some vintage cabin trunk can weigh as much as 100 pounds! Cabin luggage trunks were popular amongst the middle and upper class Victorian population. 

Flying Scotsman

flying scotsman
flying scotsman

The Flying Scotsman was completed in 1923, and was made to travel non stop from London to Edinburgh Waverley. Back in the day people often holidayed at home, and so this train would have been packed full with businessmen, holidaymakers and other passengers alike. 

You can still travel in the Flying Scotsman train, buy flying Scotsman tickets, or look at the flying Scotsman timetable today. Trains to Doncaster should always keep in mind this iconic train. 

We love that the most iconic steam locomotive is Doncaster through and through!

Mallard Train

mallard steam train
mallard steam train

The Mallard is another brilliant Doncaster export. The mallard steam train still holds the record of fastest steam train ever built, 90 years after its creation. Check out a mallard train video if you don’t believe us. The mallard train at speed is a magnificent site, and reminds us what we love about Doncaster. An unassuming town, but full of rich cultural history to Yorkshire, the UK and even the world.

Train Holidays

As well as these familiar trains and innovations, Doncaster produced regular trains for transport, travel and even holidaying. Holidays in the Victorian era were primarily only available for the rich, upper class. Popular destinations included: Blackpool, Bath, and Brighton. You may see some classic images of tourists with their vintage steamer trunks on the way to their holiday destination!

Doncaster Railway Station

This being said – a station the Victorians would have surely passed through and travelled through, would have been Doncaster railway station. It is on the East Coast Main line and also the Cross Country route. This is also a stop on the way to Edinburgh Waverley, just like the Scotsman would have done in the 20’s.

Next time you are taking the Sheffield to Doncaster train, the Doncaster to York train, Doncaster to London train, or York to Doncaster train; Think about the rich history that Doncaster and the North of England has had on the locomotive industry. And, indeed, how it intertwines a rich cultural history that has spanned the world over. 

If you are looking for more historical information about Doncaster, visit our blog page on things to do in Doncaster. Or, give us a visit!