Wednesday, 6 November 2019


NEWSLETTER – 4 November 2019

Hi everyone

There is just one Calendar left if anyone is interested.

If you have ever used this footpath, we are still looking for witnesses; all you need to do is write a statement saying how long you have known it was there and that you have used it. This statement should include your name, address and signature.  It should then be sent to me. Thanks.

Don’t forget to support us if you are a member of the Co-op by choosing us as your charity for the coming year.

We had another great meeting on 25 October, even if it did get a little out of control towards the end!  Notes will be going on the SOH Blog shortly.

We have now heard that we will receive 105 free trees and shrubs next March and will be looking for help to plant them.  They will enhance the landscaping of the fish pass area and the field alongside.

As mentioned above, we now have a new Facebook page for all those who are into social media so updates will be given on there as they arrive.  We hope this will enable information about what we do to be spread more widely and will encourage more local people to become interested in what we try to do.  Just search for Don Gorge Community Group.

For those who don’t do social media, newsletters will still appear as usual, when they will also be sent to Twitter and Facebook.

I recently had an enquiry from a gentleman who wished to donate 2000 English Bluebells to be planted in the woods around the hairpin bend.  However, on asking Natural England if they would approve of this, as it is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), they said it should not be done.   Wild garlic grows in profusion in the woodlands on that side of the river, whereas bluebells are more prolific on the north side.  It is Natural England’s policy that only flora which germinate naturally from seed should be encouraged.  As it would not be known where plants would be sourced from, there was also the possibility that they might bring diseases in the soil. 

Sunday, 20 October 2019


Registered Charity No:  1121646


Hi everyone

Autumn is now upon us and summer has passed us by; the year has passed so quickly and who knows what the winter will bring us.  The canal has already been over the top and everywhere seems very wet at present so we can only hope it won’t get any worse.

I hope everyone has had a good summer and enjoyable holidays.  We haven’t been anywhere since March so are ready for a Christmas and New Year break, which we are sharing with our daughter and her family.

Just to confirm that the calendar is now available for collection from me and that there are only a very few copies left if anyone want one.  I would be grateful if collection could be made asap or, alternatively, let me know if you can’t collect so that I can arrange delivery.  Many thanks.

More committee members would be very welcome as we are still operating without the necessary officers, ie chair and treasurer, so please give it some thought

The committee has met three times since July and a review shows that we have been involved in the following activities.

We hosted a good number of managers from the Co-op in July who did a great job bashing Balsam in the fish pass field, but we need to keep up our efforts if we are to win this battle. 



You may have noticed that this was missing for a while, but I can now report that it is back in place near the landing stage, having been restored magnificently by Ken Green with a little help from one or two other of our volunteer team.

We created a scarecrow for the village festival at the beginning of September, which received lots of favourable comments, and provided a bit of fun.

We are still pursuing the registration of this with Doncaster Ramblers and are looking for witness statements from anyone who has used it in the past or still does.  The further back we can go the better of course.  I have certainly been aware of the steps for most of my life and walked it years ago, though I must admit it hasn’t been a regular occurrence.  Apparently an application was started by someone on 19 November 2009, but not followed through. 

If you have ever used this footpath, all you need to do is write a statement saying how long you have known it was there and that you have used it. This statement should include your name, address and signature.  It should then be sent to me.

This group continues to meet on alternate Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout the year.  Numbers have varied throughout the summer due to holidays and family commitments, but we hope they will return to normal now that autumn is upon us.

Doncaster in Bloom: The presentation evening for this competition was held on 16 October and we were thrilled to hear that we had received Silver Gilt Standard for the historic wall which is being renovated by our volunteers near the fish pass.  You will remember we received a grant from Tesco Bags of Help towards this.  It is now almost complete and we are thinking about landscaping and how to finish it off with a picnic table, etc.  Free trees are being offered by the Woodland Trust and we are hoping we might be successful in obtaining some to use as part of this project.

Another brushcutter has been donated to our group by a Friend, for which we are very grateful.

Following the recent heavy rains, lots of rubbish has again come down the river.  Anyone able to take part in clearing some of this would be welcome to join the volunteers on the following scheduled workdays:
Tuesday 22 and Thursday 31 October.  Meet at either the lock house or the fish pass from 10 am onwards.

Further to my last report about this, we have found a possible way to reduce legal fees and are continuing to investigate. 

I have had no response following my last Newsletter, but it would be interesting to know if Friends are for or against it, so I’d be grateful if you could let me know.

Following information reported to you in my last Newsletter, I have just heard this week that we have been chosen as one of the beneficiaries of this fund, which is excellent news.  1% of purchases by members are returned to the community and so far £72,835 has been received by causes in our area.  Purchases can cover food, insurance, funeral costs and legal services.  If you would like to consider becoming a member, it costs just £1 and is very easy to do online.

Stores within a 5 mile radius of Doncaster can be found at Mexborough, Becket Road, Doncaster, Woodlands, Bessacarr and Goodison Boulevard.  I realise the shops are not on our doorsteps, but online facilities are available.  I will report further when I have received more information

I hope you will support this project in any way you can, eg by becoming a member of the Co-op and telling friends and neighbours about it, as it could provide much-needed funds for us.

We continue to have enjoyable and fruitful meetings of this group on the last Friday of each month at either Sprotbrough St Mary’s Church Hall or The Stables on Main Street. 

Please do come and join us if you have any information from the period 1925-1965 that you think might be useful

You may remember that one of the grants we received for the SOH group was from Healthwatch and I was invited to go to a meeting this week regarding the utilisation and implementation of technology in patient care.  The gist of the information received was that a patient’s record was accessible by all medical staff involved in their care so that the best treatment could be provided. Mobile phones are being used by all staff to do this and therefore will be apparent on the wards by patients and family members visiting them.  So, if you visit and think staff are wasting time checking their emails or playing games, they are probably just checking a patient’s programme of care!!  They were keen to get this message out to the community, hence my including it here.

Liz Reeve, Secretary

Tel: 01302 313030

Sprotbrough Oral History
Project Manager

Monday, 23 September 2019


Our Calendar is now under production and should be available soon.  If ordered by 31 October, the price will be £5; those purchased later will cost £5.50.  As I will be away from mid-December, I am hopeful they will all be distributed by early December.

We have decided to try a different format this year.  Several people have said they would like a bigger space to write diary appointments in and so this year, the calendar will be long and narrow, rather than A4.  I hope everyone will like it and find it useful.

A big thank you goes to Simon Roe who has provided photographs from his Wild Life in the Don Gorge collection.  We are always looking for contributions from others and hope you will remember to send in any good Jpegs for consideration for 2021.

This is an example - our January picture.

Orders can be taken by me by
Telephone on 01302 313030 or
Email: lizreeve@dongorgecommunitygroup,com

As we have had good support from you in the past and been complimented on our photographs, I look forward to hearing from you again.

Many thanks.


Wednesday, 24 July 2019


from Rural Estate to Real Estate

Were you or your family born in Sprotbrough Old Village
either before or in the 1920s?


Did you live, work or play there between
1925 and 1965?

If you are interested in participating or helping in any way, we would love to see you
at Sprotbrough Church Hall on

AT 2.30 PM
Please check on arrival whether this is in the Church Hall
or The Stables, Main Street, Sprotbrough

This month we will be thinking about 

There is scope for interviewees and interviewers, as well as research, photography, computer support or other artistic input.

If you are unable to come, but are still interested, please let me know so that we can keep in contact.

If you are house-bound or need help getting to the meeting, please contact:

Liz Reeve, Tel: 01302 313030 or
Cynthia Ransome, Tel: 01302 728310
for further information.


Wednesday, 17 July 2019


The Don Gorge Community Group has had the pleasure of hosting a team of helpers from the Co-op today.  Organised by Dorothy Miller, the Doncaster Member Pioneer,  about 20 members of staff from around the area have been Balsam Bashing.  Over the past few years, we have been working to eradicate this invasive species from the Gorge and have seen signs of improvement.  However, it is important to break their cycle of growth by pulling up the plants before they seed and any offers of help are much appreciated.  

Monday, 15 July 2019


Well Summer is here and we have had a mixed bag of weather so far so, if you’ve been holidaying in this country, I expect you might have had to dodge a few showers.  Hopefully you’ve seen a bit of the sun as well though and that it might continue until at least September!

The committee has met three times since I last wrote in April and a quick glance through the Minutes shows that we received grants from both Sprotbrough & Cusworth and Warmsworth Parish Councils towards our Public Liability Insurance.  We are always grateful that we can ensure our conservation volunteers are covered whilst working on our behalf. 

A regular group are now meeting on alternate Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout the year and, whilst still working with Yorkshire Wildlife through the Summer, are continuing to work on the historic wall near the fish pass.  The next dates for anyone wishing to join the group are Tuesday 16 July and Thursday 25 July.

We are very pleased to be able to host a group of staff to help with Balsam Bashing on Wednesday next 17 July.  Our efforts towards eliminating this invasive species seem to be progressing well, with areas of grass appearing in place of the dreaded weed.  It will be necessary to keep on top of it throughout the year, though, to stop it seeding again and, hopefully, there will be no flooding this Summer to carry seeds down the river to land on our shores again.

I had an enquiry from a group of walkers who asked whether a handrail might be erected at the side of the fairly steep steps, just beyond the Travellers’ site, which join a footpath leading to Cadeby Road just before the school.  This set in motion quite an investigation, but it has now been established that it is on land belonging to DMBC and is the responsibility of the Asset department.  As it is not registered as a Public Right of Way (PROW), however, we have registered an interest in making it one and hope to hear something in the not too distant future.  In the meantime, our original request has been passed to the Asset department to see if they can provide a handrail.  Who could have imagined what a hornet’s nest such a request would have provoked.  We continue to live in hope. 

A similar investigation ensued regarding a notice of works being carried out on the Cuckoo Bridge on Nursery Lane on 25 April.  So far, I have failed to confirm who was responsible for it, but think it must be Highways England (Historical Railways Estate), but I have yet to receive a reply from them since writing in April and again in May.  It would appear, however, that the rail track itself is privately owned.

Most of our energies, both physical and nervous have been employed in decision-making about the proposed car park on Nursery Lane.  We have been talking to our solicitor, but discover this will entail more funding than expected.  So far, most of the owners have very kindly agreed to either donate or sell 22 of the plots and, having come this far, we are loath to give up at the final hurdle. 

For those not aware of our hope for a larger car park in the Gorge, the land in question, comprising 27 individual plots, is ideal for a car park as it already has a concrete base and would also provide space for other educational activities by interested groups.  The 19 owners concerned purchased the land in the 1980s in order to protect it from other developments, so this makes it very difficult to talk to them altogether, as a number of them have moved away from Sprotbrough and now live in other parts of the country. 

Some people have suggested that another car park is unnecessary as it will only attract more people to the area and spoil it, but this argument seems counter-productive, as people will still continue to come as it is a free, open area.   People have visited the Gorge for two hundred years at least, when there were few buses and no cars, so there is no reason to expect them not to come in greater numbers now and in future.   The number of vehicles passing through the Gorge has vastly increased over the past 15-20 years, and similarly the number of people wanting to stop off here for an hour or two.  The increase in the number of cyclists on the greatly-improved Trans-Pennine Trail also brings vehicles carrying cycles so that families can ride the trail from here. 

Another argument put forward against it is that people will not want to walk down Nursery Lane to the river.  However, there are many beautiful places in this country that can only be reached by walking so, if the only way to protect the Don Gorge is to encourage that, then surely that is what should happen.  It is already possible to see how the grass verge on Nursery Lane has been degraded by the parking of vehicles on it to the detriment of wild flowers.  It is also dangerous for pushchairs and wheelchair users when vehicles park on the footpath on the bend near the Boat Inn, making them have to walk into the bend in the middle of the road.  Parking on the private road which prevents emergency access to the river bank as well as the cottages, is also unacceptable.  If we are successful, people would be able to walk directly into the woodland and there is also a chance that a woodland walk can be created from the car park towards the Boat Inn.

An application has been made to the Co-op Community Fund to become one of the three charities to be supported by them.  If we are successful, we would not receive anything until the end of next year but, if successful, it could help with the creation of the car park.  If anyone has any other good fundraising ideas, they would be welcome.

I therefore appeal to you, as the Friends of the Don Gorge, to support our intention to preserve the Gorge in a natural state for future generations. 

Any comments, for or against, this scheme would still be very useful and should be addressed to me.

SCARECROW FESTIVAL - 7/8 September 2019
This is being run again this year and our group has entered.  Our scarecrow is to be made by our conservation volunteers and will be sited in the Well at Lower Sprotbrough so I hope everyone will come and have a look at it.  I understand programmes with a map of sites will be on sale nearer the time.  It is in aid of the Children’s Society and Action for Children.

We have been successful in obtaining two small grants for this project, £300 as seed funding from DMBC and £500 from Healthwatch, for which we are very grateful as it will help us to pay for room hire.  We have also been able to receive a recorder for interviews and other stationery items.  It is hoped to produce a plan of the village as well as a book by next Spring.  We have just been encouraged to apply to the South Yorkshire Community Foundation for a grant for the latter.

I have decided to send this Newsletter to the Friends of the Don Gorge and those of the Sprotbrough Oral History group so, if you receive it twice, I hope you will forgive me and just delete one of them.

Have a great Summer.

Liz Reeve, Secretary

Tel: 01302 313030

Sprotbrough Oral History
Project Manager

Friday, 8 March 2019


Dear All

Just a reminder about the ……..

KEEP BRITAIN TIDY LITTER PICK IN THE GORGE - 13 & 14 APRIL 2019 at 9.30 am – 12 noon
The Don Gorge Community Group will be taking part in this event on Saturday 13 April.  Please wear appropriate clothing and footwear.  Meet either near the Fish Pass or near the Boat Inn.  Equipment will be provided.

Warmsworth Environment Group will be meeting on both days Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 April meeting at the Fish Pass.  Contact Clarissa for further details:

We would love to see you there on either or both days, whichever you can manage.

Further to the two litter bins missing from the car park near the landing stage, please note ONE has been replaced near the entrance to the river bank.

Our meeting on 22 February was again a great success with 18 people turning up to chat and hear each other’s stories.  It’s obviously not possible for everyone to come to every meeting, but several new members of the group arrived.  Since then, we have made recordings of some of the older members of the community and this will continue in the months to come.  Please check out our Blog for further information.

Our next meeting is the last Friday in March, the 29th, when Cynthia will be in charge.

Please pass the word along to anyone who may not have heard about our project.  We already have quite a lot of people in their 70s and so are particularly interested in people who knew Sprotbrough between 1925 and 1965, especially older residents in their 90s whose recall of the early days is still good.

Further to my last newsletter, I have now had a lengthy response from Yorkshire Wildlife Trust setting out their case for removing such a large amount of trees in one go.  They tell me they had already received permission to remove these from the Forestry Commission and Natural England in an attempt to enable new trees to grow at different levels, thereby encouraging flora and fauna to be increased.  I quote:

Our felling licence for the site specifies the following conditions:
1. The land on which the felling took place is to be managed in accordance with good forestry so as to secure restocking.
2. All licence trees felled are to be removed quickly.
3. The land is to adequately cleared and prepared and weeded during restocking.
4. If before 30th  June 2021 the restocking described in 1. is not achieved then the land is to be planted or sown before 30thJune 2023.

In addition to our felling licence Natural England prescribed some additional recommendations including:
1. the aim to create 3 age-classes of tree in each compartment.
2. To allow 5-10 trees per ha allowed to grow to over maturity/death 
3. sycamore dominates the canopy at places within the site, eradication of the species would cause considerable damage to the woodland, so mature sycamore should be classed as an acceptable naturalised species.

Regardless of their reasoning, it is now a fait accompli and more is likely to follow in the next few years.  I quote:
“In total this year’s work totalled 0.46hectares (or 1.14 acres) and were completed in Sprotbrough Planation, not Pot Ridings Wood. Our felling to coppice licence is for 2.24ha of the 32ha unit so there are considerable works left to complete over coming years.”

I have asked that before any future felling takes place we should be consulted so that we have warning of such action in advance.  This is not only for the benefit of the general community, but also as our conservation volunteers have been asked to clean up the site, which does not please everyone.  I believe the investigation is still not complete.

Our AGM will take place on Monday 11 March at 10 am at Martinwells Centre, Edlington.  There are vacancies for the Chair as well as two other interested people.  Members of the public are welcome to attend though it will be an extremely short meeting.

Liz Reeve, Secretary

Tel: 01302 313030

Monday, 4 February 2019


Dear All

Just a reminder about the ……..

Litter Pick in the Gorge, 
on the Warmsworth side near the fish pass 
and on the Sprotbrough side on Nursery Lane 
on Saturday 9 February from 9 am to 12 noon

We would love to see you there.  Please wear appropriate clothing and footwear.  Meet either near the Fish Pass or near the Boat Inn.  Equipment will be provided.

To add to the news about the missing litter bins last week, we have had another incident of vandalism this week when one of the hides had its windows, ledges and seats smeared with black grease.  It almost makes you want to cry that some people are so intent on causing damage and being so disruptive of people’s simple pleasures in this way

Our meeting last Friday 1 February at St Mary’s Church Hall was once again a great success.  Sixteen people turned up, despite the snow and cold, to spend two hours chatting and remembering amid laughter and amazement that such things were possible.  Sheets of paper were spread around the room with lots of different topic headings so that people could write their memories down, and a couple of interviews were begun with scribes doing the prompting and writing.  Since then, I have spent a day and a half typing these up so that their stories can be continued at future meetings or in individual interviews. 

We agreed we should meet monthly and this will take place on the last Friday of each month until April 2020.  The next meeting will take place on Friday 22 February 2019.  We have a long list of people wanting to be interviewed and their memories will play a large part in the book that is produced at the end of that time. 

Meetings are open to anyone interested in sharing or learning about the history of Sprotbrough Village from 1925 to 1965, so do feel free to come and meet other enthusiasts, as well as to tell others about it. 

For information, the address for the SOH Blog which provides all the news about this can be found as follows:

Or just by searching for Sprotbrough Oral History

Do look us up and follow our activities.

If you have visited Sprotbrough woods in the last week or two, you will have noticed that quite a lot of tree felling has taken place.  I have already written what I know about it on the blog, so please check it out.

Liz Reeve, Secretary

Tel: 01302 313030

Saturday, 2 February 2019


I thought I should try and clarify what is happening in Sprotbrough Plantation.  This part of the wood is not considered a SSSI and is managed by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust on a long lease.  No work had been done in the woodland for many years and, therefore, many trees had grown too close together, thus restricting the growth of them all.  Since they took over the lease, the Don Gorge Conservation Volunteers have helped YWT with thinning over the past two or three years near the top on the right-hand side of the right-hand fork.  Apparently, YWT considered it also needed doing on the left-hand side as well and a contractor has been hired to do this.  I agree a lot has been taken out, so this is not really thinning and it does look awful at the moment.  I can, however, agree with Dave Glover's comment that this will let in lots of light and should promote growth of plants and flowers which has been restricted for a long time now.

Having had a conversation with one of the contractors, I am told some re-planting will take place, though I haven't had this confirmed by YWT.  The wood taken out, which has been many lorry loads, will be used for firewood as apparently it was not good enough or big enough to plank.

At present, I haven't been able to locate who is responsible for the felling near the bridge on Nursery Lane.  I will write again when I hear back from those I have contacted.

In the meantime, a SOLD sign has appeared on the woodland on the right-hand side corner of Nursery Lane and Cadeby Lane.  The purchaser is not yet known, but there are some Tree Preservation Orders on this land and the biodiversity officer at DMBC informs me that they would not agree to felling taking place here.

I hope this clarifies the situation to some degree.  I was shocked when I saw all the timber coming down the lane past my home and went to see the large area of land cleared, but we can only hope it is worth it in the end.  No doubt the next thing will be the electricity board contractor clearing trees under the power line which goes up the wood.  Last time they didn't just take a swathe under the lines as normal, but cleared the land right to the footpath edge!

Liz Reeve, Secretary, Don Gorge Community Group