Down memory lane with Peter Tuffrey

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Doncaster’s character was completely altered by the coming of the railways.

In the 1850s it was a quiet market town with a population of just under 6,000 people but by the turn of the century it had been transformed into a busy industrial centre with a population of 30,000.

People from Lancashire, Nottinghamshire, East Anglia, the South East and Midlands converged on Doncaster to find work with the town’s new industry.

They settled in scores of terrace houses built in Hyde Park and Hexthorpe, which became known as the town’s railway suburbs.

A terrace in Hyde Park even bore a plaque ‘Engine Men’s Cottages’.

The above photograph, thought to be of blacksmiths, provides a picture of the men who worked at the Plant during the late 19th century.

n The iron foundry was constructed during 1881. It had a large centre bay and two small side bays.

Separating the bays were two rows of cast iron columns, which also supported the roof structure and housed the rails for an overhead crane.

Originally, the crane was operated from the shop floor by a rope.

Initially, there was only one cupola for melting iron and the ‘blast’ was produced by a small driven Roots blower.

During the late 1880s the Foundry’s equipment was modernised.

A sand riddling machine was introduced in 1887 and two Darling and Sellars moulding machines were purchased in 1889.

Three years late the manoeuvre of metal ladles became easier by the installation of a 15-ton overhead, steam-driven crane, seen above in 1912, obtained from J Booth & Bros of Rodley, Leeds.

During the 20th century the iron foundry played an important role in manufacturing many of the parts for the famous Plant-built steam locomotives.

However after the demise of steam traction during the mid-1960s, the iron foundry became redundant and was converted for use as a crane and chain repair shop.

n The erecting shop was built by the Doncaster firm of H Arnold & Son near the forge and new boiler shop in 1890/1, at a cost of £13,000.

The new building consisted of two large erecting bays and a smaller bay for machinery.

Both erecting bays accommodated a centre road with pits on either side. Each pit was capable of holding five engines.

Two 30-ton overhead cranes, supplied by Craven Bros, Manchester, were housed in both of the erecting bays and were operated by cotton driving ropes from the main shafting.

The machinery comprised lathes, radial drilling machines, shaping, slotting and screwing machines which were driven by shafts, powered by a two-cylinder steam wall engine.