David Bowie's Doncaster cousin speaks of 30 year quest to track down her superstar relative

David Bowie has Doncaster roots.
David Bowie has Doncaster roots.

The Doncaster cousin of music legend David Bowie has spoken of her thirty year quest to get in touch with the superstar.

The globe is in mourning following the death of the music icon at the age of 69 after a private 18-month battle against cancer.

The room in St Sepulchre Gate where David Bowie's father was born in 1912.

The room in St Sepulchre Gate where David Bowie's father was born in 1912.

Now his Doncaster-based second cousin has spoken of her fruitless quest to contact her famous relative over the past three decades.

MORE ON THIS STORY: VIDEO: David Bowie’s Doncaster connections

Shirley Rust never met or spoke to the Space Oddity star, whose dad was born in Doncaster in 1912.

But she spent several years trying to contact the singer who appeared on stage twice in the town during his Ziggy Stardust era.

The family of David Bowie were owners of the Doncaster Free Press during its early days.

The family of David Bowie were owners of the Doncaster Free Press during its early days.

She said: “I tried many times over the years to try and make contact after finding out the family connection, but never managed it.

“We contacted his management, biographers, everything to try and make the connection but he was so elusive.”

Bowie’s Doncaster roots stretch back to the 1900s - his grandad owned the Jubilee Boot and Shoe Company, which was based in St Sepulchre Gate, where the Caffe Nero coffee shop is now situated.

His father Haywood Stenton Jones, more commonly known as John, was born at the address at 41 St Sepulchre Gate in the town centre in 1912.

Bowie's grandmother is buried in Hyde Park Cemetery.

Bowie's grandmother is buried in Hyde Park Cemetery.

Mrs Rust, whose husband Bob was weatherman for Yorkshire Television during the 1980s, said: “Haywood was oprhaned at around the age of five and was brought up by my grandparents until the age of 21. He lived and went to school here.

“They lived at Morley Road and Copley Road before he moved down to London to find fame and fortune and where he eventually settled with his wife and where they had David in 1947.”

After moving to the capital, Mr Jones lost touch with his Doncaster roots - although he did return to the town in the 1960s to open a Barnardo’s children’s home - he worked for the charity as a publicity officer during his later years.”

The family also have links with the Doncaster Free Press - Haywood’s cousin Lilian Blackburn was a majority shareholder of the newspaper during its formative years and the star’s grandma, Zillah Blackburn, is buried in Hyde Park Cemetery.

It is not clear how much the singer knew of his Doncaster roots and connections - although he did perform two concerts ih the town during the 1970s.

The first date was September 1, 1972 when he brought his Ziggy Stardust tour to the Top Rank Suite - now Kooky nightclub - in Silver Street.

The global tour across the United Kingdom, North America, and Japan in 1972–73 was to promote the studio albums The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars and Aladdin Sane. Tickets for the concert cost just 95p in advance and £1.10 on the night.

The singer was back less than a year later, returning to the same venue on June 27, 1973.

According to ‘Kim’ a fan on a Bowie fourm on the web: “The doors opened at 8.00pm and Bowie came on stage at 9.20pm. The ticket price was £1.30. There were five costume changes. The place was packed and he wooed them all, including me!”

The singer himself was born David Jones in London in 1947 and the family lived in Brixton.

Haywood died in 1969 - and it wasn’t until the 1980s that Mrs Rust, who lives in Bessacarr discovered her family connection to Bowie.

“We knew Haywood had got a son who was in music, but we didn’t know it was David Bowie,” she said.

“My husband worked in TV so had connections and we tried to contact him by fax in Switzerland, where he was living at the time, but never heard anything.

“We tried umpteen times over the years but never had any joy. There were so many barriers stopping us getting to him.”

“No-one believes me when I say I am related to David Bowie, but all the evidence is there. Hearing the news was sad and I just wanted people to know about the connections he had with Doncaster.”