Doncaster photographer was there to capture key moments
In the past, Doncaster has been fortunate in having several photographers and photographic companies of real class.
They have recorded the changing scene not only in Doncaster but also in surrounding areas.
From the early 1890s to the mid 1920s, Luke Bagshaw photographed every important town centre development.
Between 1905 and 1935, Edgar Leonard Scrivens (ELS) took countless postcard views of Doncaster town centre and recorded all the major events which took place there.
He also toured round South Yorkshire, North Derbyshire, North Nottinghamshire and North Lincolnshire, as well as places such as Wakefield, Scarborough, Goole and York.
Balby photographers James Simonton & Sons followed a similar path as did the two companies Arjay and Empire Views.
Geoff Warnes died just over a year ago and I am convinced, in time, he will be regarded as one of the town’s major photographers.
He captured many aspects of the changing face of South Yorkshire from the late 1940s and even up until his death.
A great number of his pictures also have the advantage of being in colour.
Today I will illustrate some of the buildings Geoff photographed before they were demolished, horribly converted or left abandoned.
Doncaster’s new £250,000 ABC cinema – part of the Golden Acres development near the town centre – was opened on May 18, 1967, by the Mayor of Doncaster, Coun G F Hardy.
The cinema was packed on the first night for the inaugural screening of Carlo Ponti’s production of Dr Zhivago, starring Omar Sharif, Geraldine Chaplin and Julie Christie.
Seating 1,277, the ABC was an outstanding example of the company’s confidence in the future of the cinema industry.
The Doncaster ABC was the last in a succession of cinemas opened by the circuit, which included Sheffield, Preston, Blackpool, Bristol and Grimsby.
In the mid-1980’s the ABC was absorbed by the Cannon Group and was renamed Cannon and closed on 18 June 1992.
Since then, the premises have remained empty.
Balby Cinema opened on September 5, 1921.
Inside, a large airy hall, 99ft by 39ft, was tastefully decorated in plaster and carpeted throughout.
Seating accommodation for 720 people was provided.
A name that became synonymous with the Balby Cinema was that of manager Albert Dobney.
For 36 years he lived in Balby, next door to the cinema!
He ran children’s Saturday matinees for 34 years.
At one time, 400 attended in the morning and 600 in the afternoon.
After the matinees, Albert Dobney was a familiar figure with his red flag as he saw the children across the road.
“I always like to see them safe,” he once said.
Balby Cinema closed on 11 June 1960.
The Windsor Cinema
The Windsor Cinema at the Oswin Avenue/Balby Road junction was opened by Suburban Cinemas (North Midlands) Ltd of Worksop on Monday, August 1, 1938.
The opening films were, from Monday-Wednesday, Second Best Bed, while on Thursday to Saturday the option was The Prisoner Of Zenda.
Seating was provided for approximately 900 in the auditorium and 300 in the circle.
The cinema was taken over by the Star Cinema Group on March 1, 1954 and improvements were carried out including the installation of Cinemascope.
Roulette and bingo were to replace films and the cinema was to be renamed the Windsor Casino, it was revealed at the beginning of November 1962.
The cinema finally closed on June 27, 1964 and was demolished shortly afterwards.
The Don Cinema, near the North Bridge, Doncaster, opened on August 17, 1939 with The Citadel.
The enterprise was the scheme of J.R. Hebditch and the seats provided for about 1,000 patrons.
The cinema was designed by J Blythe Richardson.
The last film to be shown at the Don was the Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night on January 30, 1965.
The building was subsequently occupied by the Don Bingo and Social Club and was demolished around 1992 for road improvements.
Prince of Wales,
The Prince of Wales at the Carr House Road/Nelson Street corner may be traced to at least 1863; the D.N.L. Gaz. August 26, 1864 stating: ‘Spirit licence refused for Prince of Wales, George Haughton had kept it one year.’
It was rebuilt in 1898, the Doncaster Gazette of Friday October 14, 1898 recording: ‘A dinner in commemoration of the opening of the new Prince of Wales was given last Monday.’
The pub closed on October 18, 1973 and was demolished.
The Y.M.C.A. was originally constructed as a hospital in 1853 by George Dunn. It provided facilities for the people of Doncaster for many years until eventually becoming the Y.M.C.A. headquarters.
In 1963 the building was demolished to accommodate road improvements.
Crookhill Hall was situated between Edlington and Clifton.
It stood in the midst of 90 acres of its own park land, overlooking an extensive sweep of the countryside.
On January 7, 1927, it was announced: ‘The latest and most modern home for consumptives in the West Riding came into existence when Crookhill Hall opened its hospitable doors for the reception of early and serious consumptive cases.’
In 1948, on the introduction of the NHS, the Hall was inherited by the Doncaster Hospital Management Committee, continuing to run the premises as a TB hospital until 1963, when it was closed due to the decline in the incidence of the disease.
Sadly, some time afterwards, the building became a target for vandals and was severely damaged by two fires in September 1968, resulting in its subsequent demolition.
Later, during 1973, the grounds were converted for use as a golf course, a club house being erected on the old Hall’s site.
Prince of Wales, Balby
In November 1968, it was announced that a new public house on Balby Road, Doncaster, to replace the Prince of Wales, Queen Street Balby, was planned by John Smiths Tadcaster Brewery Ltd, as part of the Queen Street redevelopment scheme.
The Prince of Wales had to be demolished to allow the Queen Street area to be cleared for new houses.
Originally it was suggested that the new pub should be at the lower end of Queen Street, near the junction with St Catherine’s Avenue, but that site was not accepted by the Brewery.
The new pub opened during September 1970 but has since closed.
Prior Well Inn, Hexthorpe
The Prior Well Inn, dating back to at least 1867, was the headquarters of the Balby-with-Hexthorpe Allotment Gardeners Society of which Mr Denne was President and in whose work he took a great interest.
He was also President of the St James’s Football Club, who had their headquarters at the inn.
Several inquests were also held there and past owners included Joseph Garside and the Worksop & Retford Brewery Co Ltd.
The house closed in 1973 and was demolished in July 1974.
* Sadly, after exactly 30 years, this my last article for The Star. I would like to thank readers for their support and kind comments over this long period.
It was reassuring to know that you enjoyed looking at old pictures and reading the historical information as much as I did compiling it all. Thanks everyone.