Doncaster’s first museum at Beechfield House opens its doors to local public

Doncaster. Beechfield House.
Doncaster. Beechfield House.
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Doncaster has had its own museum since 1910, with its collections stored in Beechfield House that was opened to the public on March 23 that year.

Situated in what is now the Civic Quarter, the museum was at Beechfield House until 1964, when it moved to Chequer Road, and has stayed there to this date.

Doncaster Museum under construction in the early 1960s.

Doncaster Museum under construction in the early 1960s.

Beechfield House was built in 1812 and was a private home until it came in to use as museum and art gallery.

During the First World War, the museum at Beechfield stayed open and added to its collections when possible.

From December, 1915, rooms were set aside for displays of war trophies and relics.

One notable exhibit that was donated to the museum in 1921, was a German machine gun. This was handed to the museum by Nigel Gresley, the famous steam locomotive engine designer from Doncaster.

Part of the new display to forgotten regiments at Doncaster Museum. (D2235CB)

Part of the new display to forgotten regiments at Doncaster Museum. (D2235CB)

After the war a tank took up residence in the museum gardens, after being given in recognition of fundraising efforts made in Doncaster during a special Tank Bank Week in 1918. This was, however, scrapped for its metal at a later date.

Some medals donated as early as 1922 do remain on show.

Eventually, Doncaster Technology College replaced Beechfield House and its gardens, during major transformation work around Waterdale in the 1960s.

The Chequer Road Museum has purpose built art galleries containing some national treasures along with varied moveable exhibitions, and Yorkshire pottery.

The museum constantly varies its exhibitions and holds special activities to invite new interest. Its mainstay collections include natural history, archaeology, local history, fine and decorative art.

Plans have been drawn up for a new £15m building to house Doncaster’s museum and library in five years time.