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Doncaster News and Features: History of Doncaster Plant


In the early 19th century the first North-South railways bypassed Doncaster. However Doncaster champion Sir Edmund Beckett became Chairman of the Great Northern Railway Company, and he ensured Doncaster was placed firmly on the railway map.

In 1851 the Great Northern Railway (GNR) committee voted against Peterborough in favour of Doncaster as the location for their General Rail Repair Shop. Two years later GNR established an 11-acre site on the edge of town for the repair and maintenance of locomotives and carriages, replacing earlier facilities at Boston and Peterborough. These were the beginnings of what became one of the areas biggest industries and employers 'The Plant'.

Sir Patrick Stirling became The Plants Locomotive Superintendent in 1866 and from then on further functions were added at The Plant as the railways began to carry out great expansion plans - locomotive manufacturing and carriage design started here. He introduced the revolutionary Stirling Singles, also known as 'eight footers' which were for their day very fast indeed. A total of 53 were built at Doncaster between 1870 and 1895. The first of the class, No 1 is the only engine to be preserved, and can be seen today at the National Railway Museum in York.

In 1873 the first sleeping cars where produced and by 1879 the United Kingdom's first ever dining cars were made here. Three years later the first corridor coaches arrived.




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