The splendour that was once Wheatley Hall

Wheatley Hall - for DFP Nostalgia.
Wheatley Hall - for DFP Nostalgia.

To a generation - or even two - of Doncaster people the name Wheatley Hall will only be familiar when followed by the word Road.

So it may come as a surprise to many that there was once a magnificent mansion of that name which stood in fine grounds just north of Thorne Road which was the seat of Sir William Henry Charles Cooke-Bart, Lord of the Manor and principal landowner of the day.

Wheatley Hall - Golfers

Wheatley Hall - Golfers

Strangely, despite it being a most impressive residence, complete with heavy stone work, four stories high and containing many intricate windows (a popular attraction of the time), it was built in 1680 close to the River Don.

This was low-lying land and flooding occurred with frequent regularity causing damage and inconvenience throughout the area. It made the whole of the area something of a dismal outlook and could have been easily avoided if the house had been consructed just a couple of hundred yards south of its original site.

It would also have provided the residents with a superb view and made it unecessary to pipe drinking water half a mile along dirty lead pipes. On the good side, to the south of the house stood stately grounds and some of the finest oak trees in the whole country which created an area of 103 acres later known as Wheatley Park.

The building itself remained the seat of the Cooke family until around 1914 when the latest lord, Sir William Cooke, moved out to be nearer the colliery he owned in neighbouring Bentley.

The hall was later leased to Wheatley Golf Club, who used the ground floor as a club house and sub-let the upper two storeys as flats.

By 1933, upkeep of the by now deteriorating building had become too much for the golfers, who moved to their current home on Armthorpe Road. The estate, much of which had been converted into a golf course, was eventually purchased by Doncaster Corporation for housing, whilst the crumbling Jacobean Hall itself, like many other impressive local structures, was demolished in 1938.

The site of the Hall was then converted to industrial use and occupied by International Harvesters then the McCormick International Tractor factory complex and at the same time the estate disappeared beneath the Wheatley Park housing estate.

In 1884 the Wheatley Estate itself was created by the laying out of St. Mary’s Road and Beckett Road, it was a slow start but the growth of Wheatley as a district began in real earnest with the creating of Avenue Road, the Highfield Estate, Kings Road and Queens Road, together with Highfield Road.

Other roads followed and by 1898 almost all the land to Avenue Road was in the the hands of the builders.

This land was higher than the rest as well as being well drained with good soil and was ideal for residential development, and that’s just what happened.

So much so that by 1898 the population had increased from 183 inhabitants to over 3,000 with more than 675 houses.

The area is now a thriving and bustling mixture of housing, factories and car showrooms, a real change to its original use all those years ago.