David Bowie's son Duncan Jones reveals how late dad was keen to discover his Doncaster roots

The son of late music icon David Bowie has revealed how the star was keen to discover his Doncaster roots before he died.

By Darren Burke
Monday, 10 June, 2019, 09:01

Duncan Jones, the singer’s film director son, revealed on Twitter that Bowie – who had many connections with Doncaster – had been ‘digging into his family tree’ before his death in 2016.

The family has strong connections to the town – Bowie’s dad was born here and his grandfather ran a successful boot and shoe empire.

His grandmother is buried in Hyde Park Cemetery and his second cousin, Shirley Rust, wife of late TV weatherman Bob Rust, has previously spoken of her connections to the Ziggy Stardust icon.

In a tweet, Jones wrote: “Need to get more info, but dad was really digging into his family tree when he was still around. Believe his grandad ran a boot shop in Sheffield. Anyone up there know anything about it?

He later corrected himself and wrote: “Forgive me! Was Doncaster, not Sheffield!”

Rock icon David Bowie. (Photo: Adam Bielawski).

Bowie’s father, Haywood Stenton Jones, more commonly known as John, was born at 41 St Sepulchre Gate in the town centre in 1912. His birthplace is where the Caffe Nero coffee shop is now situated.

At that time, it was the Jubilee Boot and Shoe Company, run by the singer’s grandad.

The singer himself was born David Jones in London in 1947 by which time his father was a promotions officer for Barnardo’s.

Following his death in January 2016, his Doncaster cousin spoke of her thirty year quest to get in touch with the superstar.

Second cousin Shirley Rust revealed how she never met or spoke to the Space Oddity star - but she spent several years trying to contact the singer who appeared on stage twice in the town during his Ziggy Stardust era.

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She said: “I tried many times over the years to try and make contact after finding out the family connection, but never managed it.

“We contacted his management, biographers, everything to try and make the connection but he was so elusive.”

Mrs Rust, whose husband Bob was weatherman for Yorkshire Television during the 1980s and who died earlier this year at the age of 77, said: “Haywood was orphaned at around the age of five and was brought up by my grandparents until the age of 21.

"He lived and went to school here. “They lived at Morley Road and Copley Road before he moved down to London to find fame and fortune and where he eventually settled with his wife and where they had David in 1947.”

After moving to the capital, Mr Jones lost touch with his Doncaster roots - although he did return to the town in the 1960s to open a Barnardo’s children’s home - he worked for the charity as a publicity officer during his later years.

The family also have links with the Doncaster Free Press - Haywood’s cousin Lilian Blackburn was a majority shareholder of the newspaper during its formative years and the star’s grandma, Zillah Blackburn, is buried in Hyde Park Cemetery.

Added Mrs Rust: “My husband worked in TV so had connections and we tried to contact him by fax in Switzerland, where he was living at the time, but never heard anything. We tried umpteen times over the years but never had any joy. There were so many barriers stopping us getting to him.”

The singer also performed twice in Doncaster during his career.

On September 1, 1972 he presented his other-worldly ego Ziggy Stardust, playing at the Top Rank in Silver Street.

Tickets were 95p in advance and £1.10 on the night and he returned a year later to the same venue on June 27, 1973.