The history of the Waterdale area

Over the last 150 years the Waterdale area of Doncaster has had many dramatic land use changes. In the 1850s Waterdale, as we know it today, was predominantly fields most likely used for grazing. With the rail and coal industries not fully established in Doncaster there was no need for large areas of housing.

As the railway industry expanded in the late 19th century, people came to Doncaster for the work and these workers required housing. A better use for the land had been identified – some of the fields were transformed into residential accommodation.

Glasgow Paddocks, named after Lord Glasgow, a racehorse owner and breeder, who stabled his horses here, was the home of bloodstock auctioneers, Tattersalls, who held sales on the site until 1957.  Glasgow Paddocks was not just about horses though as the public space welcomed carnivals and galas. Horse sales returned to Doncaster in 1962 when Doncaster Bloodstock Sales was formed on a different site.

Although new buildings arrived in the area such as Girls High School (1910) and St James Baths (1932), the next major transformation around Waterdale took place in the 1960s when the Doncaster Corporation began a large-scale clearance by demolishing the then sub-standard housing. Buildings incorporating architectural designs of the day were erected on the site.

Doncaster College replaced Beechfield House and its accompanying gardens, with the museum moving to its present site on Chequer Road. The museum that dates back to 1909 shows a cultural presence has existed in and around Waterdale for over 100 years.

Glasgow Paddocks, which became derelict following Tattersalls decision to relocate to Newmarket, was replaced with various civic buildings and parking. 

The 12-storey Coal House, more recently named the Council House, became the National Coal Board’s headquarters in 1966.

The current ring road, new housing provision and various supporting services such as schools and shops also appeared on the scene.

The town centre redevelopment was, at the time, one of the biggest in the country.

Waterdale in the Noughties

The Waterdale landscape changed little since the 1960s. However the buildings that were modern 40 years ago were in poor condition. They look tired, dated and ready for an overhaul. Buildings like the former Doncaster College was vacant as the College had moved to the Hub at Waterfront. The area needed revitalising by the Civic and Cultural Quarter.

Current Day

The first phase of the Civic and Cultural Quarter has been completed with Cast, new civic offices and Sir Nigel Gresley Square all open. The former Southern Multi-Storey Car Park has been refurbished and renamed Civic Quarter Car Park, other public spaces have been built and new town centre homes are going up.

The 12-storey Council House was demolished by controlled explosion on Sunday, 20 July 2014 and demolition of sites like the old Civic Theatre has been completed. These sites are prepared for the next stages of this major regeneration project.

Harewood Terrace

Harewood Terrace in the early 1900s facing onto grass and shrubs. Between 1814 and 1882 this area was known as Horse Fair as it was the venue for horse sales. These former terraced houses are now retail developments. The first shop appeared in Waterdale in 1920.


Waterdale Bus Station

In the 1920s the public realm in front of Harewood Terrace became a bus station. The bus station later moved to part of Glasgow Paddocks before a purpose built southern bus station was built in 1968. With the Doncaster Corporation also offering free parking to motorists in Waterdale many of the residents moved out.


Beechfield House

The Girls School in the distance was built in 1910. In the foreground is Beechfield House which was built in 1812. A captured First World War German field gun and tank are just visible in front of the building. This former private residence and grounds became home to the Museum and Art Gallery in 1909. In the 1960s Beechfield House was pulled down and replaced by the Technology College, the old Doncaster College has now been demolished. The museum moved to its present home on Chequer Road in 1964.


Glasgow Paddocks

The pictured Glasgow Paddocks held racehorse sales between 1866 and 1957. Bidders and spectators at the Leger week sales included all the distinguished people in the sporting world. The land is currently home to the law courts and parking.


Photographs and illustrations are courtesy of Doncaster's Local Studies Library.

Last updated: 19 March 2019 11:34:14