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Doncaster is one of the major towns in South Yorkshire in Northern England. It is part of the Yorkshire and Humber region. With a population of just over 109,000, it is the largest town in the Metropolitan Borough of Doncaster. The locals refer to Doncaster as "Donny".
Doncaster was founded by the Romans near an important road junction on Ermine Street between Lincoln and York. The Domesday Survey of 1086 gives precise details of its location, describing it as "a market town in Bainardeschire".
The town derives its name from Douno-gau or Dounoceto meaning "town on hill". It is believed that the Romans built a small fort in Doncaster, but it was destroyed by Anglo Saxons.
Doncaster received market town status in 1194 from Richard I and became a local commercial centre for wool, with trade guilds established to support these industries. The town grew further still when the Great North Road (now known as A1) which had superseded Ermine Street as the main route from London to Edinburgh, was routed through Doncaster in 1750. In 1849 Doncaster's first railway station opened at Marshgate Lane (later renamed Shaftholme), near where an earlier station had been located.
Doncaster postcodes start from DN1 - DN12. Its phone area code is 01302.
Doncaster is a major transport centre with its mainline station and Doncaster Sheffield Airport. The town has the second biggest marketplace in Europe after Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. However recent plans for regeneration will see that record beaten.
Doncaster is also home to an ice-skating rink which also houses a cinema and several public swimming pools. One of these, Silksworth has been recently built and was opened in 2008 by British Olympic Swimmer Mark Foster MBE. In 2007 it was said that Doncaster had more trees per person than any other town or city in Europe.
It is one of the largest settlements in South Yorkshire after Sheffield and Rotherham. The town is served by an extensive bus network which is operated by Stagecoach Yorkshire.
Doncaster Metropolitan Borough covers the nearby villages of Adwick le Street, Finningley, Rossington and Warmsworth as well as part of Thorne. All areas are within a 5-mile radius of Doncaster and most are linked to it by an hourly bus service.
Other communities close to Doncaster include Conisbrough, Mexborough, Cadeby, Balby Carr House (part), Carcroft Hall (part), Bessacarr, Bawtry (part), Finningley (part), Thornes Park Estate (part) Wheatley Hills Estate(Part). These places all have a regular and extensive bus service operated by Stagecoach, the bus company.
There are also many railway stations in the area such as:
Doncaster Carr, Doncaster Central, Doncaster Lakeside, Edlington, Sandtoft and Thorne to name a few. These are all on the East Coast Mainline which is part of Network Rail's National Routeing Guide. A large proportion of these stations have additional facilities to assist mobility-impaired passengers with access to buses. Rail services from these stations are operated by Northern rail passenger company. London North Eastern Railway operates the Hull to York service which runs via Selby stopping at Adwick le Street.
Rotherham Parkgate Interchange is the largest transport hub in Doncaster, offering bus services which include connections to local and county towns and villages as well as long-distance services via East Midlands Airport, Sheffield, Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire and West Yorkshire.
There are a number of other major transport links including The Dearne Valley Line that runs from Mexborough towards Rotherham Central Interchange with its numerous stops in between both North & Southbound (including Bentley). There is also the end-to-end Sheffield Supertram service/line that runs over 17 miles to terminate at Halfway Station on the southern side of Rotherham town centre or at Herdings Park - located on the northern side.
Doncaster is part of the London-North Eastern Railway zone which covers the northeast and East Midlands of England. The main railway station (as well as the headquarters of South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive) is listed at Grade II* in the National Heritage List for England. It was built between 1841 and 1848 by Edward Stevens but modernised between 1985 and 1987 to feature a subway link from Doncaster town centre to the platforms.
The Doncaster economic landscape comprises a number of established medium and large firms such as the Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber Bank. Whilst there are also smaller family businesses. The main industries in the area are manufacturing, retail and tourism.
The area around the River Don is an economic hotspot for Doncaster; this area includes major employers such as Siemens Wind Power, Network Rail, Doncaster College and The University of Lincoln.
The town has a number of business parks including the Roscoe Business Park off the A18 at Rossington which is home to a large Sainsbury's store and several call centres, as well as the Enterprise Zone at Cantley where there are plans for an industrial estate to be built.
Doncaster's was built beside Doncaster railway station in 1994. It is home to about 3,300 people from more than 130 countries of origin and provides training and employment opportunities in a variety of fields including landscaping, horticulture and catering.
The Borough's regeneration strategy is focused on the River Don, which flows northwards to the Humber Estuary at Goole. The regeneration area covers an area from the town centre southwards to Adwick le Street, with its boundary extending to Mexborough, Conisbrough and Denaby.
In terms of the demography of the area, Doncaster is a young town with a population characterised by its ethnic and cultural diversity. White British are the majority in the borough accounting for over 80% of the population in the area, there are also minorities from Black and Asian communities.
Doncaster has several good schools at primary, secondary and tertiary levels. The largest educational institution in the area is Doncaster College, which has twelve campuses in the Borough. The larger of these campuses are at Belle Vue and Intake, with other locations including Mexborough, Bentley and Wheatley. The College has around 17000 students, with a staff of over eight hundred. It also has a Faculty of Education and Health, which have won many awards for their teaching standards. The college also runs several courses to enable students to gain degrees from the University of Hull and Sheffield Hallam University which are nearby cities.
The town has one further education college in the form of Dearne Valley College which was established in 2003 when the former Humberside Polytechnic site at Wath upon Dearne was taken over by the University of Lincoln and became known as Dearne Valley College.
Doncaster secondary schools include Askham Bryan College, Doncaster Free and Parochial School, Mexborough School, Rossington All Saints Academy, Woodhouse Grove School.
Doncaster is home to several secondary schools including two grammar schools - Don Valley Academy and King Edward VII School, one comprehensive-funded school – Boston Spa Comprehensive School – as well as Wickersley School & Sports College, Kirk Sandall Fielding Community Arts College, Valley Park School & Technology College and The Rosary Roman Catholic Voluntary Aided High School.
Doncaster has three sixth form colleges; Doncaster College, King Edward VII School and Wickersley School & Sports College.
In addition to its secondary schools, the borough has six preparatory schools namely Brampton House Preparatory School, Doncaster, Doncaster Junior School, Doncaster, Riddings Preparatory School, Rossington All Saints Primary School and Wilthorpe Primary School.
Other notable primary schools in the area are St Peters, St Josephs RC Primary School, Mowbray Green Primary School, The Oaks Primary School, Bishops Woodfield Primary School and the Maltby Community Academy.
Major landmarks in Doncaster include the main Frenchgate shopping centre, which is located in the town centre. This area includes a variety of high street names including Debenhams, French Connection, Next and M&S as well as an Asda store. It also includes a market called Doncaster Market. The market was redeveloped in 2005 to include multi-million-pound investment into its infrastructure.
Other landmarks include the Orchard Square shopping centre, located in the eastern suburbs of the town. The Doncaster Dome was another landmark in Doncaster, but this closed on 25 March 2010 due to funding issues. In 2007 a plan for its demolition and replacement with a new facility named Aeroplex was put forward by developers.
Doncaster is also known for its sporting attributes, with Doncaster Rovers Football Club having spent many years in the historic top flight of English football. The club's traditional home is Belle Vue, but since 2015 it has been ground-sharing with the nearby Doncaster Knights Rugby Union team at Keepmoat Stadium. Other famous sporting people from or connected to the town include golfer Luke Donald, cricketers Ian Pont, Joe Root and Dean Headley and Yorkshire County Cricket Club captain Gary Ballance.
The Doncaster racecourse is the oldest established in England, dating back to 1615. Cricket is also popular in Doncaster; Yorkshire County Cricket Club play home games at Grange Lane and Rovers play at Belle Vue.
Doncaster was the last place where a pair of peregrine falcons were seen in England before they became extinct there – for over a century it held the distinction of being the most northerly known location with breeding pairs.