Doncaster – Police Station and Law Courts

I’ll try anything twice or more – including a trip to Doncaster.

Once in the rain two years ago, more recently in broken cloud and sunshine.

In search of the work of Frederick Gibberd .

Son of Coventry – architect, author and leading post-war planner.

From 1949 onwards plans were afoot to develop the Waterdale area of Doncaster – civic buildings, courts, educational provision and the like WH Price the Borough Surveyor at the helm. In 1955 Gibberd was appointed to oversee the site, though many of his designs were unrealised, his Police Station and Law Courts opened in 1969.

The area was also home to the Technical College and Coal – later Council House, both now demolished.

Information Doncaster Civic Trust.

The Courts and Police Station now nestle behind the much newer civic developments, part of much wider regeneration scheme.

So let’s go back in time to a wet day in 2016 – when first I chanced upon these municipal concrete bunkers of law and order – where Brutalism is embodied in the buildings content and purpose, as well as its style.

This is an architecture that instructs you to avoid wrongdoing at all costs – or suffer the inevitable consequences.

Come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough.

2019 and I’m back again – architecturally little or nothing has changed, still standing – stolid solid pillars of justice. The day is brighter ever so slightly softening the harsh precast panels against a bluer spring sky.

3 thoughts on “Doncaster – Police Station and Law Courts

  1. My first job interview was at Coal house in 1988. I was 15 and clueless and asked what I thought about the poll tax. Innocently I replied, what’s that? Cue screwface from interviewer and “it’s what you’ll be processing if you get this job”. Quite glad I failed the interview, in hindsight. I did later work at the college for a few years and had an office that sat right over the underpass/bridge that overlooked both the magistrate’s court (the ones in your pics) and the Police station. Then on the left you had crown court (where I’d actually been once or twice). I had a strange affection for the building, I loved the angular concrete base and the difference in pre-cast facings. It also had the added bonus of being able to watch people coming and going all day, I saw my old dealer a couple of times. The magistrate’s court also had a great underground canteen that you could go in, as members of the public.


  2. I used to work at Doncaster Police Station many years ago. It was designed to withstand a nuclear blast which is why the base of the building was so thick. The top two floors would have been blown away and there was a concrete “moat” surrounding the building which was about 12 feet thick at its very base. This was designed to take the impact of the blast and leave the lower floors intact.
    The cell area had a network of tunnels beneath it where local council members and dignitaries could govern from after a nuclear war. There were massive blast doors on rollers in the custody area to reduce the effects of a blast. The doors were finally removed during a refurbishment about 15 years ago.


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