Darnall was initially a small hamlet usually included with Attercliffe. William Walker, a resident of the settlement, is one of several people rumoured to have been the executioner of Charles I of England. A hall was built by the Staniforth family in the centre of Darnall in 1723; in 1845 this became a private "lunatic asylum".
Holy Trinity church, the first in Darnall, was built in 1840, followed by a hospital in 1855 and a school in 1875. By the mid-nineteenth century, it was a centre for farming and coal mining, and was known for its amateur greyhound racing. Industry was also important, with the Don Glass Works established around 1793, augmented by the Darnall Works steel foundry from 1835.
In the later 19th century, the area was built up to house steelworkers working in the large foundries of the Lower Don Valley. Darnall railway station was built on the Sheffield to Lincoln line to serve the suburb. Unemployment grew as the foundries shut or laid off many employees from the 1970s on, and the area is now one of the poorest in the city.
A mix of council housing, 1880s steelworkers cottages, small terrace housing and 1930s private semi-detached houses make up the accommodation within the Darnall area.
Demographic changes over the years have reduced the population with a consequent reduction in the number of school-age children in the district. One nursery/infant (4 - 7 yrs) and one junior (8 - 11 yrs) school (sharing the same name, Greenlands) and one community school, Phillimore, serve the area. Secondary level schools outside the area provide education for children aged over 11 years.
High Hazels Park is the major open space in this area of the city.