Over years of researching the history and heritage of Doncaster both for my benefit and for and on behalf of others,one fact keeps recurring. That is, that History and Heritage is more of a late 20th century concern and didn’t really interest the masses before. Hobbies were a luxury that only the rich could afford, everyone else hardly had enough time to take one hours walk on the village green. I believe this mentality spilled over into how we once felt and thought about our history and heritage.
The listing of building didn’t take place until about 1947 when a list was compiled of all the buildings that had been damaged during the German bombing raids. The listings were compiled to ascertain which structures were important enough before the damage to merit being rebuilt after. In some parts of Great Britain the process of listing buildings didn’t commence until as late as 1972.
As a direct result of this sort of mentality a great many building have fallen by the wayside. Either neglected to the point of dereliction or rased to the ground without a thought for the significance of the structure. One such example of this is a building and land that once stood on the fringes of Doncaster town centre. The building in question is the Sand House. Constructed in the 1850’s in a sand pit (or quarry) on the road to Balby. The fascinating aspect to this story is not the house itself, although that was a feat of engineering having been carved form a single block of sandstone, but rather the tunnels that were hewn out of the sandstone in the sub-terrain. The tunnels were full of carvings and interesting features.
The corporation of Doncaster purchased the Sand House which marked the beginning of its demise. I will say that it took decades for the Sand House to vanish altogether as the area was developed into high rise flats. Some say that there are parts of the tunnels that are still in existence. I, personally don’t know the answer to that, but deep down, I hope they’re right. There has been 2 books written on the subject, the latter of the two being the most comprehensive. One of the authors is a direct descendant of the man who constructed the Sand House over 160 years ago. There is also a magnificent web site where you can find out more information and learn about an exciting project that is taking place in 2012. Why not visit the Sand House website today.