Crags Historical Timeline

Compiled by Friends of The Crags historian Neal Fitzgerald

January 0410

To 3rd Century

43-410AD – Romans are believed to have erected an observation tower on the top of the Crags overlooking the Don crossing at the Roman Ricknield Street track, linking the Midlands and the North-East via Adwick-le-Street.

January 0750

8th Century

680-750AD – St Peter’s Church built at Conisbrough, utilising a single central nave.

January 1090

11th Century

Conisbrough Castle built following William’s conquest of Britain in 1066

January 1100

12th Century

The Church of St John the Baptist built at Mexbrough in the 1100s.

January 1370

14th Century

1370 – First recorded ferry between Old Denaby and Mexbrough. Pathway across the Crags to the ferry links St Peter’s Church, Conisbrough and St John the Baptist Church, Mexbrough. Route probably skirted Lady’s Valley, with another pathway alone what is now Northcliffe Road.

January 1487

15th Century

1400s – An early trading route (a great trackway running from the Midlands) crosses the Crags and fords the River Don near what becomes Denaby Main.

From 1487 –  Bell Pits (a crude and dangerous method of mining coal and iron ore in simple pits dug 60ft into the earth) appear.


January 1745

18th Century

1745-1760 – Stone tramway. North Cliff Quarry (later Lady’s Valley) begins operation. A railway of stone is built down the Crags to transport trams filled with stone from the quarry to the Limestone kilns below, winched down by hand. A century later, a haulage engine is installed in the 1850s.

January 1800

19th Century

1800 to present day – Various stories of Crags ghosts and ghouls.

1840 – Swinton Road is built from Brook Square in Conisbrough to link Mexborough and Swinton. It will become Low Road, the A6023.

1849 – the Tinsley & Doncaster Trust Swinton branch line railway opens. It runs from Goole to Swinton, through the Don valley.

1863-68 – Denaby Colliery sunk and opened. First of 1,700 houses built on Danaby Mine Estate – which would become Denaby.

1878 – Prehistoric Bones. Bones of a mammoth, rhinoceros, horse and a hyena – more than 11,000 years old, and possibly 65,000 years – found in clay on Denaby Crags, by workmen laying the area’s first water pipes. The hyena appeared to have gnawed on the bones of the other creatures. All probably lived in a cave high in the Crags, when the Don was actually a huge lake covering the whole of what is now the valley.

1889 – Powder Works – making bombs, explosives and detonators – opened in Denaby Woods.

1889-93 – Cadeby Main Colliery sunk and opened.

1895-99 – Denaby reservoir built at the top of teh Crags, with water pumped from Cadeby Main Colliery.

Late-19th to mid-20th Century – Lady’s Valley, a notorious courting, picnic, gambling, prostitution and prize-fighting spot close to the North Cliff sandstone quarry, becomes popular.

January 1900

20th Century

20th Century Sledging – During the snowy winter evenings, the Crags become a focal point for the sledging with home-made sleds. Sledging runs (some of which are still in use) are given the following names:

  • The Elbow – from the reservoir down past the Swing Park and on towards St. Albans Church
  • The Snake / The Welfare – from Halifax Avenue down to the Miners Welfare
  • The Yorkshire Bumps – from the reservoir straight downhill toward Balby Street School
  • The Looney – from a point between Montague Avenue and Halifax Avenue over rough terrain
  • The Shute – from Copley Avenue
  •  The Roly Poly – a more gentle run for beginners, from Fullerton Avenue snicket down a short way toward the Snake

1901 – Output ceases at North Cliff Limestone Quarry (Lady’s Valley).

1902-3 – The Bagmuck Strike. A dispute over pit pay sees families evicted from their colliery-owned homes… many having to live rough on the Crags.

1902 – Denaby and District Civilian Miniature Rifle Club formed in Lady’s Valley. Taken over by the Territorial Army in 1922.

1924-27 – Conanby estate of 400 houses built at the top of the Crags.

1927 – Conisbrough Urban District Council lay metalled footpaths across the Crags.

1929 – A ‘rec’ called the Swing Park is created by CUDC and the local Miners’ Welfare schemes. It is replaced by soccer pitches in the mid 1960s.

1935 – RAF plane crashes close to the Powder Works in Denaby Woods. Pilot has a lucky escape.

1936 – Lady’s Valley hosts a bonfire party for the accession of the new King.

1938 – Air raid shelters for up to 160 people and defensive trenches set up on the Crags by Conisbrough Urban District Council.

1945 – Fighter plane (Hurricane or Spitfire) crash lands in Denaby Woods. The pilot is treated in Fullerton Hospital, Denaby.

1960s – Go-Karting becomes a Crags feature and Northcliffe School sets up its own Go-Kart Club.

March 1966 – Aliens! Three alien spaceships and captured on camera, flying across Conisbrough, over The Crags.

1968 – Denaby Main Colliery closed.

1980s – Crags are re-forested with new trees as part of a Youth Employment scheme.

1986 – Cadeby Main Colliery is closed down on Christmas Eve and the sight of colliers crossing the Crags becomes an overnight memory.

2019 – Friends of The Crags formed to resurrect the Crags to their former glories.

World Events

4,500 million years ago
Earth’s crust formed

345 million years ago

65-1 million years ago
Development of mammals, fish, birds, reptiles, invenebrates and amphibians

2,500,000 years ago
Ice Age begins

1-2 million years ago
Massive climate change. Glaciers come and
go four times

1 million years ago
Homo-erectus upright ape emerges in Africa

300,000 -10,000 Years ago
Homo-sapiens evolve – earliest use of tools

70,000-35,000 years ago
Neanderthal man populates Europe and Asia

11,700 years ago
End of glacial period

8,000 years ago
Britain becomes an island

600 years ago
Ancient British tribes make and use iron

Romans conquer Britain

5-15th centuries AD
The Dark Ages – cultural, intellectual and economic decline following collapse of the Roman Empire

The Black Death

Wars of the Roses

Captain Cook claims Australia

Battle of Trafalgar

Slavery abolished in Britain

World’s first air raid as Austria uses 200 balloons to bomb Venice

American Civil War

Telephone invented

Queen Victoria dies

World War I

Wall Street crash

World War II

Man walks on the moon

Miners’ Strike