Don Your Way column: Why we need to celebrate Doncaster’s pubs

We need to raise a glass to Doncaster pubs, says Darren Burke.
We need to raise a glass to Doncaster pubs, says Darren Burke.

Recently, I took a rare trip into Doncaster town centre on a Saturday night.

I say rare, because my boozing and partying days are very much largely a thing of the past. And more often than not, big nights out these days are few and far between.

Back in the day, there would be occasions when I’d be out and about in the town’s bars and pubs maybe three or four times in a week.

Mind, that was when I was a young and carefree teenager, without children and commitments.

Nowadays, as anyone racing into middle age will know, the wallet isn’t as bulging as it once was and rather than being able to neck 10 pints night after night without ill efffect, a hangover now takes the best part of a week to shake off.

I’m joking of course, but you know where I’m coming from.

That’s not to say I don’t enjoy a night out in Doncaster town centre – I do. But after dark, the town’s streets have always been a place that have very much divided opinion.

Some love the lively party atmosphere, others detest the ‘Wild West’ style scenes and the threat of disorder and violence that seems to go hand in hand with too much ale.

What did strike me however were how much quieter the streets seemed to be from back in the 1990s when the town centre would be awash with people hitting the pubs come Friday and Saturday night each week.

To say it was a Saturday in the height of summer, some bars were worryingly quiet. No spending 20 minutes frantically waving a tenner about in the barmaid’s eyeline trying to get served, in some cases you could walk right in and get your pint without a moment’s hesitation.

Maybe its because Doncaster has more bars than it had back then but I suspect that the real truth is that people go out far less than they used to.

What was also noticeable was that the majority of those out letting their hair down were a similar age to me.

Mums and dads in their 40s and 50s, people who have been there, done that when it comes to seeing all Doncaster’s rich and varied nightlife has to offer. And who undoubtedly keep coming back for more.

However, the number of younger people seemed to be far less than I would have expected. OK, we might not have been treading the sticky carpeted floors of the bars that they may prefer to congregate in, but Silver Street, which used to be heaving (sometimes quite literally) at the end of the week, was distinctly lacking in the young and beautiful.

I’m sure Doncaster’s nightlife economy and vibrant pub scene are just as shipshape as they ever were and maybe it was just an off night.

But love ’em or loathe ’em, Doncaster’s watering holes are a vital part of the town’s economy and unless they are full like they once were, it won’t just be the drinkers suffering a nasty hangover.