Doncaster schools support Great British Railways bid

Doncaster primary schools are rallying around the city’s bid to become the headquarters for Great British Railways.

Children from Town Field Primary School and Hilltop Primary in Edlington have written letters to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps to help persuade the government to choose Doncaster as the location for the major new organisation.

“The rich railway heritage of Doncaster is what makes us the obvious choice,” wrote one Year 6 pupil at Town Field Primary School, “Installing the GBRHQ in Doncaster would be great for jobs and careers as there would be more businesses and opportunities for people.”

Year 5 pupils at Hilltop Primary approached the challenge from a different angle, imagining what famous steam locomotives built in Doncaster would say:

"Should Doncaster become the home for Great British Railways,” says one pupil, writing as The Flying Scotsman, “I would love it if children could follow in the footsteps of my creators: you have the power to make Doncaster a better place!"

Following applications from 42 local authorities across Britain in the competition to find a location for the headquarters of Great British Railways, Doncaster has been named as one of six locations to have been shortlisted. 

Pupils in Year 6 at Bentley High Street Primary School rewrote the lyrics to Baddiel and Skinner’s famous football anthem, Three Lions, to gather enthusiasm around Doncaster’s bid.  “It’s coming home, it’s coming, Railway’s coming home!” goes the chorus of the song, recorded by the children to be released across social media.

The schools worked with Doncaster Stories, the local National Literacy Trust hub, in creating their letters and lyrics.  Phil Sheppard, Doncaster Stories Project Manager, said: “The enthusiasm and skill of the children in creating their letters was astounding, as was the wit and spirit that Bentley High Street brought to their parody song.  The children really got to grips with why Doncaster is such a natural fit for this opportunity and communicated this so effectively in their work.  The children are rightly proud of Doncaster as a city and are very aware of its railways heritage. I really hope their hard work pays off.”

Paul Hammond, Director of Steel Group who are overseeing Doncaster’s bid for Great British Railways, was equally impressed with the children’s work.  “The children of Doncaster could be the biggest benefactors of Doncaster becoming the centre for Great British Railways. So, given the opportunities and growth this could bring to the city in the future, it was with great admiration that I read the children’s letters.  They are acutely aware of Doncaster’s unique heritage in rail travel, and are rightly proud of the city’s achievements in this area.  The letters and song have added a new and vibrant dimension to our work in promoting Doncaster as the perfect place for the Great British Railways headquarters, and we would like to thank the children profusely for their contribution!”

Britain’s railways are embarking on a major, once in a generation reform that will transform the way in which the sector works.  It will serve as a single, accountable public body responsible for running Britain’s railways.  In October 2021, the Secretary of State for Transport announced that a competition will take place to find a location for the headquarters outside of London.  Members of the public can vote for Doncaster here: GBR National HQ Competition – Public vote | Great British Railways Transition Team (