Askern is a former mining town and civil parish within the Metropolitan Borough of Doncaster, in South Yorkshire; its history can be traced back to the reign of Edward III; apparently the people of Norton complained to the Sheriff of Osgodcross that the people of Askern had failed to keep part of Askern pool in a clean state; as a result the Kings highway had been ‘overflowed and drowned so that neither horse nor foot passengers could use it’.
The nearby lake and the surrounding wetland area have dominated much of Askern's history starting from the settlements at Sutton Common and continuing through to the Spa of the Victorian era; Askern, which was originally a small farming village, became known locally for its waters in the 18th century when Dr Short, in his book ‘Mineral Waters of Yorkshire’, refers to the waters as having a most unpleasant odour and taste.
Far from being detrimental to the area, Dr Short's comments actually helped Askern to gain a reputation as having water with healing properties and during the 19th century the lords of the manor built the first bathhouse called Manor Baths; after this other baths were built till in the late 19th century Askern had earned the title of Spa and had 5 bathhouses and the water could also be taken at the Spa Hydropathic Establishment.
Askern came to be the place to stay and the railway was built to enable people from across the Pennines to come and partake of the healing waters; many people were now coming to Askern by road and rail; hotels were being built and guesthouses lined Station Road and Moss Road.
Then in the early years of the 20th century the quest for coal identified a good seam of coal near Askern; it was decided to access the coal from a mine built above the village; two shafts 905 yards deep ,were sunk into the Barnsley seam in 1909 and the colliery began producing coal in 1911; however, the shafts were found to be in a heavily faulted area and the pit bottom ended up being below the level of the major reserves of coal in the seam, this was corrected in 1947 by making a new pit bottom some 60 yards above the original.
Askern colliery was originally called Edlington Main but this was later changed to the Yorkshire Main; when the mine opened the New Village was built to house the workers and their families; this new population was at odds with the well to do visitors and as the 1st World War started in 1914 the death knell was sounded for Askern Spa and the spa visitors declined to no more than a few regulars.
Once again Askern changed direction and became a thriving pit village and welcomed people from all over the country to come and work and live in the area, giving the town a mixed background; the mine was regarded as producing very high quality coal and the opening of the Coalite works confirmed Askern as a place of high employment and a pleasant environment to live in; this however changed as the Coalite plant pushed a lot of smoke and fumes into the atmosphere.
Unfortunately, Askern suffered the same fate as many of the other surrounding vllages and towns when the Yorkshire Main colliery finally closed down in 1985 creating mass unemployment in the area.
Askern is now fairly well known in South Yorkshire for its greyhound racing stadium.