On track to repair rail pioneer’s grave

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A fundraising campaign has been launched to repair the crumbling final resting place of a man who helped put Doncaster on the railway map.

Locomotive engineer Patrick Stirling was one of the pioneers of the great railway boom of the Victorian era and his work helped to turn the town into a hub of the rail network.

Symeon Waller

Symeon Waller

But following his death more than 100 years ago, his grave in Hyde Park Cemetery has fallen into disrepair – and now a drive is underway to help restore the monument to its former glory.

Local historian and campaigner Symeon Waller, who is spearheading the push, said: “As we go about our daily lives it is easy to forget how the town’s prosperity owes so much to the pioneers of the Victorian era.

“A great deal of work has gone into improving the site but attention has now moved to restoring the monuments that have suffered the most.”

The first memorial to be renovated will be that of Stirling who was instrumental in transforming Doncaster’s railway fortunes in the latter days of Queen Victoria’s reign.

Born in 1820 in Scotland, Stirling, chief locomotive engineer for the Great Northern Railway from 1866 until 1895, was responsible for creating a locomotive which revolutionised the railways.

His father, the Rev Robert Stirling was also a railway engineer and set the wheels in motion for Patrick’s most famous creation, the 4-2-2 steam locomotive Stirling single called ‘eight-footer’ because of the 8ft diameter driving wheel.

The engine type set speed records during the race to the north with an average speed of more than 60 mph in 1895 - the same year Stirling died.

Because of his strong connection to Doncaster’s railway heritage and the family’s affinity with the town, a grave plot was chosen at Doncaster Cemetery, now called Hyde Park Cemetery.

Added Mr Waller: “Doncaster Cemetery had fallen by the wayside as plots became scarce and the Rose Hill cemetery was opened in 1934. However, thanks to the incredible work of the Friends of Hyde Park Cemetery, the cemetery is protected and cared for once more.”

The plot of Mr Stirling and his two sons is one of the first to be attended to as part of a far-reaching project to restore the graves of some of Doncaster’s most famous sons.

His son, also called Patrick, was also an important part of the town’s history, playing for Doncaster Rovers and also becoming Mayor of Doncaster.

The Stirling Appeal has now been created to raise the £1,440 needed to carry out the work.

You can help Friends of Hyde Park Cemetery meet the target by contributing to the appeal via the FOHPC website www.fohpc.org.uk or by sending a cheque to: Friends of Hyde Park Cemetery, c/o DMBC Bereavement Services, Rose Hill Crematorium, Cantley Lane, Doncaster, South Yorkshire, DN4 6NE.