Lads’ donation is the turning point as Dons fans come to rescue

In the 1950's it was common for entire families to go on holiday on a motorbike and sidecar
In the 1950's it was common for entire families to go on holiday on a motorbike and sidecar
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Evening Post and Chronicle, Scot Lane, April 1951

THE future of the Doncaster Rugby League Club is assured. But it was touch and go!

The directors were despairing of ever reaching the full £6,000 share capital required by the time appointed.

Then two Doncaster schoolboys set an example, chipped in... and the money began to roll in. The boys each bought two 10 shilling shares; then £10 came in, then £100 with a promise of another £100 and all was well.

John Williamson, a director, said the youngsters’ purchase was the turning point

“It was a hectic zero-hour scramble,” he said, “and we only reached the sum with 30 minutes to spare.”

Tony and Robert Laywood were the young saviours - perhaps somebody will remember their names in the years to come.

n A friend who works at the museum tells me that the new infirmary to be built on Thorne Road will be Doncaster’s fourth.

The first was down Frenchgate at the point where the old Great North Road used to cross the main railway line (the North Bridge does that job today). “It’s still there,” he said. “It used to be called the Dispensary. Go and see for yourself.”

I went to have a look and sure enough there it is, a ruin of a building close to Greyfriars Road baths and easily seen from the Bentley bus terminus.

I must have passed it hundreds of times without asking questions.

Clearly it has been neglected ever since the completion of the second infirmary, which is also still standing, in Whitaker Street.

The Dispensary dispensed free advice and medicine to all persons who were recommended as ‘proper recipients’.

So any old Tom, Dick and Harry who called there with a nasty pain in his lower regions would not automatically be admitted. If all the few beds were occupied he would simply have to go home, hope to be visited by a surgeon from the Dispensary and if the worst had to happen, die there like everyone else.

It was built in 1792 and apparently served the town’s 6,000 population well until its largely working-class citizens grew too numerous and unable to cope. Infectious diseases caused by appalling sanitation, poverty and wretched houses demanded a new hospital be built and the Whitaker Street building, with its warm fires and high airy ceilings was erected in 1868. Also the Plant works employees, 5,000 of them, had to have a proper hospital.

I went to school in the Whitaker Street building when our soldiers newly evacuated from Dunkirk filled Beechfield schools in Chequer Road.

n There is still a shortage of all kinds of accommodation in Doncaster. Dad is frequently asked by his workpeople if he knows anyone who could offer rooms. This letter to the Editor tells it all:

“I have been searching for a flat in Doncaster for three months and at the end of it all I am beginning to wonder if there is such a thing in the town. I am certain of one thing: I have as much hope of setting up a tiny little home in a compact flat as I have of finding a needle in a haystack.

“There are flats in Doncaster but it appears they are all let furnished at a price which makes my hopes as thin as a wafer sandwich.

“One agent told me he could let at least 200 in next to no time but it was uneconomical to build them. The high cost of labour and materials are among the snags. I have not given up hope.”

n Coal prices are rising. A merchant says householders are now paying an extra penny a hundred weight and the recent wage award to miners was a contributory factor. A penny doesn’t seem much to me. We should not begrudge the miners a penny.

n A ROBIN has built her nest in the saddle bag of a bicycle owned by Mrs Surtees, of Avenue Road. She did not notice it until her brother, riding behind her noticed some twigs protruding from the bag. The machine was left undisturbed and three days later they noticed four eggs. They decided to walk, or ride on borrowed bikes, until the eggs were hatched.

The chicks are reported to be doing fine.

n Nominations for the borough elections on May 10 show that 11 of the 12 wards will be contested. Once again the pundits will look at Doncaster’s results to see which way the wind is blowing.

n The sweet smell of freshly-cut grass fills the air over Town Field and tells us that everything is set for another year’s cricket. There are 101 teams competing in the Doncaster and District League, which can claim to be the largest in the world. There are several new clubs, including Doncaster Co-op. Hatfield Main are having their pitch resurfaced and will play all matches away. Mr O W Baines, the league secretary paid tribute to the sportsmanship of teams that will accommodate Hatfield.

Doncaster Town will have three professionals for the first time in their history. They are Whitehouse, Schofield and Cass.

n Billy Thompson, British lightweight champion, has had his eyes examined by a specialist for the British Board of Control as to his fitness to box.

“Why pick on me?” he wonders.

“I have had no trouble. I do have to wear glasses for reading but I hope to be a fighter for years to come.”

The Board have not forgotten his seven hours of blindness after a previous bout.

n The Doncaster Cycle Speedway League’s days are numbered. No league meeting has been held, no fixtures announced. A dozen clubs had expressed interest and that is as far as it ever got. Clubs are going ahead with their own friendly fixtures.

n If miners would cut their coal allowance to four tons, which is twice the ration for the rest of us, it would release about two million tons to be added to the present domestic consumption of 30 million tons, says Doncaster Chamber of Commerce.

The extra coal would be sufficient to provide two hundredweights a year on the ration.

The Chamber claims despite increased mechanisation coal is dirtier and miners are working fewer shifts than before the war. Average home coal throughout the country was 5.9 tons per man.

In 1950 the average over the whole country was seven tons and in the north-east it amounted to 11 tons per man They say miners’ wages have trebled.

Average wages in the last three years before the war were £2 17s and in 1950 they were £8 12s. Coal prices have increased from 23s 5d a ton pre-war to 62s 4d today. Output per man year has dropped from 302 tons to 294 tons.

What are we expected to do with these figures? If the miners are having it so good why aren’t Chamber members rushing to do a shift themselves?

The miners deserve all they can get. It was never an attractive career anyway.

n Lewis Yates, the Bentley blacksmith and artist in wrought iron, has successfully saved a dying craft in a largely mechanised countryside. He has mechanised his smithy and the old forge is heated using electrical bellows. Many hand tools have been replaced by other electrical machinery including welding equipment and a drilling machine. The old anvil remains, however, equally as useful for shaping part of a tractor as beating out horseshoes.

He still shoes two or three horses a week.

Ten years ago he shod 10 times that number. Mr Yates is 25. His great grandfather founded the business 100 years ago.

n Scholars of Chequer Road Baptist church are collecting waste paper at £7 a ton. So far they have collected half a ton and consider it a profitable venture.

n A firm with headquarters outside Doncaster is advertising for good condition post-war second-hand motorcycles. “We have £50,000 to spend. Good prices paid... cash given on the spot.”