Doncaster Civic Theatre (Arcadia)

Got in as soon as we could but unfortunately a bit too late as all the good stuff was auctioned off within a few weeks of closure.

Vintage pic – note the dome


The Civic Theatre, Doncaster was originally built in 1921 and when it was first opened was used as a sports hall and then turned into a theatre by architect Edgar Wilburn in 1922.

From this point it was owned by the pantomime star, theatrical producer and comedian Harry Russell and run with his Newcastle-born wife and former Tiller-girl Madge Allan as ‘The New Arcadia’.

It was converted for Cinema use in the early 1930s, but still run by Harry Russell, the building was renamed the Arcadia Picture House.

The building was bought by the local Council in the late 1940s who converted it into a Theatre and Cinema called the Doncaster Arts Centre.

In the 1970s the Theatre was refurbished and renamed the Civic Theatre. The Theatre can seat 495 on one level and has a traditional proscenium arched stage. There is no flytower.

Modern(ish) pic – note the lack of dome

Apologies for the lack of variety in the pics, there really was very little to see – dressing rooms were just mirrors, formica and white paint, front of house was stripped bare.

Shots from a couple of visits (spent too long failing to see the obvious on the first visit so had to go back a second time)

View from the projection room

Pimped up lighting desk


Moulding detail around the stage

Easily the best surviving feature

A few seats that didn’t get sold off

View from the auditorium

View from the stage

Thanks as ever to the local metal recycling team :thumb and to JW for the company.


Coal House/Council House, Doncaster

Built in the mid-1960’s as the Headquarters of the South Yorkshire area of the National Coal Board.

Coal House was “designed” by the infamous architect John Poulson who was later jailed for corruption along with the leader of Newcastle Council T Dan Smith in a scandal that also forced the resignation of the Home Secretary, Reginald Maudling. Poulson was also responsible for many other local authority and nationalised industry buildings in the 60’s, such as Leeds international Swimming Pool…shame he saved his best work for other places.

As a 16/17 year old, this was my usual view of Coal House as I made my way to school…pitched battles between the striking miners and the coppers and a daily interrogation as to where I was going dressed in my school uniform 🙄

After the decimation of the South Yorkshire coalfield (from around 30 collieries down to just one), the building passed to Doncaster Council who imaginatively renamed it as “The Council House”.

Doncaster Council have now got themselves a nice, shiny new set of offices and so the Council House is getting ready for demo so we thought it would be rude not to take a look. After a couple of abortive attempts where it was just too much of a stretch, things eventually fell into place…

(As someone better than me once said…if it’s shite, make it black and white!)

The Magistrates Court and police station next door (for all you Brutalist fans out there, these are by Gibberd who did the Catholic cathedral in Liverpool)

New theatre in the foreground and new council offices just behind

Thanks for looking!

Minitron, Sheffield

“Minitron” is an offshoot of the River Don in the Kelham Island area of the city – no doubt in the past it would have fed many water wheels to supply power to the many metalworking factories in this area, but is now largely culverted.

Some lovely stone work…

…eventually leads to some spraycreted sections…

…before there’s a brief open section…

…then a stretch of RCP before it joins back up with the Don

James doing his thang

Gave a couple of blokes walking home from the pub a bit of a shock when we emerged fully-wadered and asked ’em “Is this the way to Rotherham?” 😀

Harworth Colliery Conveyor

Harworth Colliery used a conveyor belt to move spoil away from the mine. The mine was put on “care & maintenance” in 2005 and not much has happened since.

In total the belt is about 1km long.

It’s a conveyor belt.

A long, straight conveyor belt.

You are going to see pictures of a mucky rubber belt.

Lots of pictures of a mucky rubber belt.

Looking back to the modern headstocks (1989 & 1996)

And looking up the spoil heap

End of the line

Firbeck Hall

Brief history:

  • Built in 1594 by William West, author of a legal textbook called “Symbolaeographia.”
  • bought by Henry Gally in the late 18th-century.  His son, Henry Gally-Knight, in 1820, substantially remodelled and extended Firbeck in the Elizabethan style we see today.
  • badly damaged by fire in 1924
  • sold in 1934 to businessman Cyril Nicholson who invested £80,000 (approx £4m – 2008 values) modernising the house to create a country club that was frequented by the prince of Wales and Amy Johnson
  • the Hall became an annexe to Sheffield Royal Infirmary during the war.
  • purchased by the Miners’ Welfare Commission in 1945 as a Miners’ Rehabilitation Centre, closing in 1991.
  • Jason Cooper of Doncaster purchased Firbeck Hall and its 45 acres (180,000 m2) of grounds on 6 July 2010. Cooper has a history of restoring Country Homes in the Yorkshire area. Good luck to him, he’s going to need it (and pots of money!)

What can I say about this place, other than it’s totally fucked in many places – the roof has been stripped and the water is now wrecking the floors and ceilings – if you go, watch where you’re putting your feet!

(Apologies for the grainy pics, my camera decided today was ISO 1600 day) :banghead

Nice art deco detail from the 1934 modernisation mentioned above

1950’s Paperwork from the Miners’ Rehab Centre days

Woollen Signs, Sheffield

  Woollen Signs was a Sheffield company who made signs…out of wool.

Woollen & Co Ltd was established in Sheffield in 1883 by Edwin James Woollen, a signwriter and Frederick Ibbotson, a lithographic printer. By 1897 Woollens had become a limited company and was based at 35 Carver Street in Sheffield. (info from the late 0742/Mark Wallis)

At some point they moved to Love Street and then in 2005 moved to new premises.

In 2008 Woollen & Co ceased trading after 125 years in business following a takeover. However a new company Woollen Signs Limited rose from the ashes and seems to be trading successfully.

In the time since my last visit, not much seems to have changed at all.

There are reminders of Sheffield’s brewing past everywhere.

Arty effort using a drying rack

Old school Mac


Balby Road Primitive Methodist Chapel, Doncaster

Balby Road Primitive Methodist Chapel, Doncaster

There’s not much history about this place available, other than it opened in 1868 as a Primitive Methodist chapel.
(The Primitives were a radical breakaway group of the Methodist church and also had a Top Ten hit in 1988 with Crash).

To make up for the lack of info, have a picture of a banner.


Sunday School 1946

(Photo courtesy of Alison Vainlo, owner of Arksey Village History )

The church finally closed its doors around 2008.

A bizarre game of royal tiddlywinks?

The building has been well-cleared of evidence of its past, in fact the only religious text we found was one page from a bible in the bottom of a box.

A “Spersom” thermostat manufactured by Sperryn & Co of Birmingham

Chapel hat pegs

I usually suck at these window shots so quite pleased with this one


Not the most inspiring of sites, but if you don’t kiss the frogs…