About the Plant Works

Doncaster became an important railway centre in 1853, when the Great Northern Railway Company opened its Locomotive Works - locally known as the 'Plant Works' - in Doncaster, relocating them from Boston in Lincolnshire.

For more than a century the Plant was a major employer in the town and the producer of some of the finest locomotives, of which the Flying Scotsman and the Mallard designed by Sir Nigel Gresley, are still-celebrated examples. Both of these famous steam engines are now to be found at the National Railway Museum at York. The Plant Works went into decline from the 1960s and now, although the buildings remain (excepting the now-demolished Crimpsall workshops, for which see Doncaster Archives reference DZMD/805), is only a vestige of its former self.

The history of the Plant Works has been written by Philip S Bagwell. Titled Doncaster Town of Train Makers 1853-1990, it can be purchased from Doncaster Archives for £3.50. To this should be added £2.00 for postage and packaging, if the book is to be sent to a UK address; a price for overseas orders can be supplied on request.

Doncaster Archives holds relatively few records relating to railways. This is because when the railways were owned by the State, the records of all the former railway companies were deposited in the National Archives, where they can be consulted. The website for the National Archives, which contains all its catalogues, is to be found at www.nationalarchives.gov.uk.

The National Railway Museum, Leeman Road, York, YO26 4XJ (telephone 01904 621261, e-mail nrm.library@nusi.sc.uk) has records relating to the locomotives produced by the Plant Works.

Doncaster Archives has some of the personnel registers of the Plant works. They include records from: 

  • Locomotive works 1897-1966
  • Carriage and Wagon Department 1908-1935
  • Premium Apprentices 1898-1939

There are also some less comprehensive staff registers and records for different periods between 1875 and 1989 and a register of premium apprentices at the Gorton railway works, Manchester from 1924 to 1935.

In addition, Doncaster Archives has a complete record of the staff employed at the Plant in March 1887.  This has been published by Doncaster and District Family History Society as The Train Builders by Pam Lindley.  Other records of plant works employees can be found at Doncaster Archives amongst the archives of the Great Northern Railway Locomotive Society whose records cover the years 1857 to 1972 and the archives of the Great Northern Railway Sick and funeral fund from 1867 to 1971.


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Tel: 01302 859811

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