Don Your Way column: Taking a trip back in time over Doncaster on the Goodyear Airship

One of my somewhat geeky passions has always been a love for aerial photography.

Thursday, 19th April 2018, 8:03 am
Updated Thursday, 19th April 2018, 8:06 am
Darren Burke has delved back into Doncaster's aerial archives.

There, I said it.

But don’t stop reading just yet.

I’ve always enjoyed picking up books and trawling websites showing the nation’s landmarks, buildings, countryside and football grounds from the air.

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There’s something fascinating about taking a rarely seen look at our surroundings from a bird’s eye view.

You see the shapes, the designs, the road layouts - which often seem to make far more sense from the skies than they do at ground level.

Normally, the only chance we get to take a look at Doncaster from the air is the few brief moments we get when we’re taking off or landing at the town’s Robin Hood Airport.

Recently, in the line of work, I stumbled upon a haul of photos of our town from the air taken in the 80s and 90s.

Some of them haven’t been seen since they were originally published - some of them have never been seen before at all.

What’s clear from studying them (and you can see the full gallery on the Doncaster Free Press website HERE) is the monumental and massive changes that have taken place in our town over the course of the last few decades.

Some changes have been for the better, others less so.

While the residential and suburban areas remain largely unscathed with their tidy, terraced rows, huge swathes of the town centre have been wiped away in the name of progress.

Gone are places like the North Bus Station, the old Council House, Doncaster College, the Civic Theatre, the Odeon, Belle Vue - all swept away to make way for new projects and developments.

Of course, the new Civic Offices and Cast, along with the extended Frenchgate Centre and interchange have all given the town a new look - and the new St George’s Bridge (although it now seems old) is nowhere to be seen on the old photos.

However, what delighted me most about taking a nostalgic dip into the past, is discovering that many of the photos were taken from the much-loved Goodyear Airship.

If you are of a certain age, mere mention of its name will bring back throughts of hearing it gently buzzing through the endless blue summer skies over Doncaster and racing out of your house to catch a glimpse.

It seemed to be a hardy staple above South Yorkshire back in the early 80s and I can clearly remember being among excited youngsters waving frantically from the ground as it gently hovered above us.

Nowadays, you only ever seem to see it hovering over big sporting events at Wembley and the like - presumably pleasure trips across the inudstrial north don’t quite have the appeal they once used to have.

Truly a glimpse into a bygone Doncaster from a bygone form of transport from another era.