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George Mair ADAM & Eden Grove

Crowd watching an event at Eden Grove


George Mair Adam, was born on 19th January 1898 in Doncaster, and commenced work on 10th January 1912 on Great Northern Railway in the Plant Works as a turner. Later he became an athlete and a member of Doncaster Harriers from 1920.


Doncaster Plant Works Athletic Club (DPWAC) under the aegis of the Great Northern Railway Company was originally titled Doncaster Great North Harriers. When the Great North Railway was absorbed into the newly formed London & North Eastern Railway Company (LNER) its name was changed to Doncaster LNER Harriers in 1923.

Further change took place in 1933, when the harriers identified themselves as a section of the athletic club and became Doncaster LNER AC (Harriers Section).

The home of the athletic club was Eden Grove, Hexthorpe which owes its development to Edmund Beckett Denison M.P. Eden Grove opened in 1914 for the use of the cricket team. It was opened by Hon F.S.Jackson, a member of the Yorkshire County eleven, and was the son of Lord Allerton, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Great Northern Railway Company.

The opening match was played between Doncaster and Darlington Works, a member of the Doncaster team was H.N.Gresley then 38 years old.

Photograph of the Doncaster Team is held by the National Railway Musem.

Whilst over the years the club was known as the ‘Plant’ it was after nationalisation in 1948 that the name Doncaster Plant Works Athletic Club was adopted.

In their first season in 1920, the Doncaster GNR Harriers hosted the National Cross – Country championships at Doncaster Racecourse coming ninth. The race attracted over 10,000 who paid one shilling besides many more that were crowed in the free course.

Under the captaincy of George Adam, the club built up a strong cross-country team. In 1925, George Adam (a hurdler) introduced track and field events, the latter being a novelty for the harriers.

In 1924, a notable visitor to Eden Grove was Eric Liddell of ‘Chariots of Fire’ fame and in 1933, Lord Burghley, LNER Director, and an Olympic gold and silver medallist also attended.

In 1957, the athletes who were accustomed to competing on grass, celebrated the acquisition of an all purpose cinder track designed by George Adam, which was formerly opened by Christopher Brasher, 1956 Olympic Gold Medallist.

The latter half of the decade saw the success of Arthur Rowe, a master of the shop put. In the 1970’s, George Adam a catalyst for 54 years, retired due to ill health and played no further part in the club’s fortune.

The 1901 & 1911 census returns shows George and his seven siblings living at 18 Arthur Street, Doncaster, with their parents Andrew and Martha

Both of whom were born in Scotland but married in Doncaster (September Quarter 1882). Andrew worked as a loco fitter at the GN Depot and the eldest son Thomas also worked on the Railways as an Engine Apprentice in the Works.

Thanks to Thomas H.Fox for supplying the information concerning the Doncaster Plant Works Athletic Club – further reading can be found in the library.

Private Stewart Donald ADAM

18275 Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry 6th Battalion

Stewart was born on 12th July 1893, Doncaster. He was the son of Andrew Adam and Martha Smith.
In 1911 the family lived at 18 Arthur Street, Hyde Park, Doncaster.
His father worked for G.N.R and was a Locomotive Fitter. Stewart joined the Plant on 15th June 1908 as a Turner.
In 1911 he was a Law Student as well.
Private Stewart Donald Adam was killed on 29th June 1915, France.
He is buried at Bedford House Cemetery, Zillebeke, near Ypres, Belgium.
Marion Baxter – Member 4042

Arthur Albert 1878-1917

Sapper Arthur Albert 31542, Royal Engineers.
Arthur was born on 16th August 1878, March, Cambridgeshire.
He married Elizabeth Thorpe in 1916, North Witchford, Cambridgeshire.
On the 1911 census Arthur’s occupation was a plumber and he lived with his parents at 14, Broxholme Lane, Wheatley, Doncaster.
Arthur started work at the Plant on 13th July 1912.
He enlisted in Doncaster and joined the Royal Engineers 61st Company and died of his wound on 11th November 1917, France, age 40.
He is buried at Boulogne Eastern cemetery.
By Marion Baxter – Member 4042

Thomas ANDREWS 1892 -1918

Thomas Andrews was born on 12th March 1892, Doncaster.
He was the son of Abijah James Andrews and Annie Emily Epton. In 1911 the family lived at 122, Shady Side, Hexthorpe, Doncaster.
Thomas’s occupation was a Brass Finisher at The Doncaster Plant.
On 8th April 1915, St. Jude’s Parish Church, Hexthorpe, he married Selina Mitchell, they had one daughter Bessie who was born in 1918, Doncaster.  
On 6th April 1918 Thomas left the Plant to join the army.
He joined the Yorkshire Hussars, 13th Battalion, 235672 as Private.
He died of his wounds on 23rd March 1918, France, age 26.

He is buried at Bac-de-Sud , British Military Cemetery, France.

By Marion Baxter – Member 4042

William Gathorne ASPINALL


William Gathorne Aspinall did his apprenticeship at the Plant Works and his occupation was given as blacksmith on his marriage certificate when he married Lucy Emily Butler in St James’ Church on April 8th, 1909. 

In 1912 , William, Lucy and baby Phyllis (my mother) emigrated to South Africa.  The stay was short. William contracted malaria and was seriously ill.  The doctor told him that he wouldn’t survive another attack and so, before the doctor would allow him to leave hospital, he sent Lucy, Phyllis and baby Jean home before him.

They arrived back in February 1915 and William joined them in June. That would agree with Plant records, when he returned to work there again.

The leaving date of 1918, would be when the family moved to Rossington. 

I think Grandad moved to Rossington because of his health. Mother told me that as a girl, Grandma Lucy regularly used to send her to the chemist for some drops of Quinine.  In the 1920s, the family moved to Moorends but I don’t think it was anything to do with the pit.  They also lived in Wilkinson Ave, not a pit house. The earliest photo I have of us together was taken in 1940 on the flat bed of his lorry.  He was a road haulier on mother’s marriage certificate in 1935. Plus I had a cousin, 12 years older than me, who said he helped Grandad during school holidays in the lorry in the 1920s. So, perhaps being self-employed was a good decision  while his health was a problem.

By Pauline Stainton – Member 4573

Frank Curtis 1907-1952

Frank Curtis was born in Morton in Derbyshire, the son of coal miner, George Curtis, who hailed from Melton Mowbray.
The family moved to Doncaster with George searching for work at the newly opened Edlington Colliery and in 1921 they were living on Earlesmere Avenue in Balby.
Frank was schooled in Doncaster and joined the Plant Works in January 1923 as a Wagon Fitter’s Apprentice.
By the time of the 1939 register, he had advanced to become a Railway Engineering Draughtsman in the LNER Carriage & Wagon Works Department at the Plant Works.
He was living with his wife Gertrude, and their daughter Lesley, on Wivelsfield Road in Balby, owning their own house.
Frank and his family moved to the Gorton Works near Manchester as a manager for the Carriage & Wagon Department there, and subsequently moved to the same Department at the York Works in a management role.
He was tragically killed in a motorcycling accident whilst visiting his mother at Earlesmere Avenue late on Christmas Eve in 1952 aged only 53 years.
If it wasn’t for the strength of Gertrude the family may have been pushed into poverty, but they survived having moved back to Wivelsfield Road, with no pension and no money.
I am proud to say Frank was my Grandfather who I wish I had known and Gertrude was my amazing Grandma, Lesley being my lovely Mum.
Andy Harbon – Member 4461


A short biography of Sir Nigel Gresley (1876-1941)

Sir Nigel Gresley was one of Britain’s most famous steam locomotive engineers.
He became Chief Mechanical Engineer of the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER). He was also the designer of some of the most famous locomotives in Britain, including the LNER Class A1 and LNER Class A4 4-6-2 Pacific engines.
The A1 Flying Scotsman was the first steam locomotive officially recorded over 100 mph in passenger service, and an A4 number 4468 Mallard, still holds the record for being the fastest steam locomotive in the world (126 mph).
Herbert Nigel Gresley was born on 19th June 1876, Edinburgh, Scotland. Son of Reverend Nigel Gresley and Joanna Beatrice.
His grandfather was Sir William Nigel Gresley, 9th Baronet.
In 1881 he lived with his family Netherseal Rectory, Netherseal, Derbyshire, age 4. By 1891, age 14, Nigel Gresley was living with his Uncle and Aunt in Clifton, Gloucestershire and attending Marlborough College.
After school in Sussex and Marlborough College, he served his apprenticeship at the Crewe Works of London and North Western Railway, then as a pupil he was under John Aspinall at Horwich of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway.
In 1901 he married Ethel Frances Fullager, in Fylde, Lancashire. They had four children, Nigel, Violet, Roger, and Marjorie. Also, in 1901 Herbert Nigel Gresley was a mechanical engineer for LYR.
In 1904, Nigel became Assistant Superintendent of the Carriage and Wagon Department of the L&YR. A year later he moved to the Great Northern Railway (GNR) as Carriage and Wagon Superintendent. GNR controlled the line from London to Doncaster and allied itself with the North Eastern Railway and the North British Railway
In 1911 the family were living at Shillington (No. 24), Avenue Road, Doncaster, and Herbert Nigel Gresley was an Engineer Superintendent. They were also living at that address in 1914 .
In 1929 Ethel Frances Gresley died. In that Year Herbert Nigel Gresley along with his daughter Violet set off to Quebec, Canada. In 1938 Sir Nigel Gresley arrived back to England from South Africa.
Sir Nigel Gresley was Knighted in 1936. In 1939 he lived at Watton House, Hertfordshire, England and was Chief Mechanical Engineer for LNER.
He died on 5th April 1941, Watton, Hertfordshire. He is buried at St. Peter’s Churchyard, Netherseal, Derbyshire.
By Marion Baxter – Member 4042

Patrick STIRLING - The Mayor

Patrick Stirling (1862-1925)

Patrick Stirling was born on 5th November 1862, Kilmarnock, Scotland.

He was the son of Patrick Stirling (Railway Engineer and Locomotive Superintendent of the GNR) and Margaret Laird.

With his father being employed by GNR the family moved to Doncaster. 

On the 1881 census at the age of 18, he was employed as an engine fitter at GNR Doncaster Works, and the family lived Highfield House, Thorne Road, Wheatley, Doncaster.

By 1885-86 he was playing for Doncaster Rovers.

On 29th April 1891 Doncaster Patrick married Sarah Ann Roberts.

Patrick Stirling gave a lifetime of public service to the town and became Mayor of Doncaster in 1914, until 1915.

He died in 1925, Doncaster age 63. He is buried at Hyde Park Cemetery.

Marion Baxter – Member 4042

Sir Patrick STIRLING - The Engineer

Sir Patrick Stirling (1820-1895)

In 1837, Patrick Stirling began his engineering career as an apprentice to his uncle, James Stirling, at the Dundee Foundry. In 1851 he became locomotive superintendant of the Caledonian & Dumbartonshire Junction Railway and then, in 1866, he took the same position with GNR, at Doncaster; after just ten months in the job he became Chief Locomotive Superintendant.
He is most widely know for his design of the Stirling Single locomotive which was built at the Doncaster works.
The 1881 census showed he lived with his family at Highfield House, Thorne Road, Wheatley, Doncaster.

He remained with GNR until he retired, in 1895, ten days before his death.

He is buried with his wife in Hyde Park Cemetery in Doncaster next to his sons.