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The Railway

Rise of the Railways

In the early days, Goole did not want a railway as this would have meant competition to the canal. However, to stop railway traffic going to Hull, the Company Directors decided not to oppose a railway to Goole, but to plan it so it helped the town. In the 1830s there were eleven proposals for railways to the town, this was reduced to six and finally the Wakefield, Pontefract & Goole Railway Co. was chosen as the successful line. Railway Dock was built to accommodate the new line and both opened in 1848 by which time the WP&GR had been taken over by the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway.

The "Lanky" has its origins in 1825, the year when the Stockton & Darlington Railway opened, with the forming of the Leeds & Manchester and Liverpool & Manchester railways. The M&LR had to cut across the Pennines and followed the traditional transport route between the old West Riding and Manchester following a twisting, winding course through two deep valleys cut at the end of the ice-age. After a lot of arguing with the Rochdale Canal Company, the construction finally got Royal Assent in 1836. Constructing the M&LR was hard with thousands of navvies building the tunnels, bridges, viaducts and embankments. The line was finally opened in 1841 and became the North's most important means of communication.

Victoria Station in Manchester was the impressive main station on the L&YR network. Despite years of grime, neglect and a Luftwaffe attack during WWII, it has a magnificent air of dignity and has two items of interest to Goolies. There is a huge mural still inside the station showing how powerful the L&YR had become at its peak. By the late 19th Century, it served every major town in the industrial north, or it had links to other towns with other railways. The mural shows the importance of Goole to its operations.

Outside the station, is a list of the major destinations served by the company. Goole is shown alongside London, Ireland and Scotland.

The Humber Ports competed with each other to export coal and this led to races from rival train companies to reach the sea. The Selby & Hull Railway opened in 1840. This became part of the York & North Midland Railway in 1845, and part of the North Eastern Railway in 1854. By the end of the railway building rush in the 1860s, the ports of Goole, Hull and Grimsby had their own railway networks. The L&YR catered for collieries between Leeds and Barnsley sending coal to Goole. The NER handled coal north of the River Aire for Hull. The Manchester, Sheffield & Lincolnshire Railway handled coal south of Barnsley for Grimsby.

The NER came to Goole in the 1860s to link Gilberdyke to the South Yorkshire Railway at Thorne. This created a new railway station on Boothferry Road which is still used today. The Hull & Barnsley Railway opened in the 1880s to provide a link from the Barnsley coalfields to Hull. A link was established between the H&BR and the L&YR at Hensall, allowing the L&YR to promote a Liverpool to Hull service. In 1910 the NER built a line from Selby to Goole.

The Axholme Joint Railway was originally promoted by two companies, the Goole & Marshland Light Railway and the Isle of Axholme Light Railway. The L&YR and NER took over the project and completed it in 1909 to link Goole to the Trent valley. Regular passenger services were operated on the 27 mile system until 1933. Freight services continued afterwards with the last section retained until the early 1970s.

Heyday of the Railways

The original L&YR station was built alongside Railway Dock and had two 100 foot platforms adjacent to St. John's Street. In 1881-82, the docks were expanded and the L&YR station closed down with all passenger trains using the NER station in Boothferry Road. They also built a large Goods Office across from Stanhope Dock. When the Selby to Goole Line opened, a spur was built between Rawcliffe Bridge Junction and Oakhill Junction for all passenger traffic. The line between Rawcliffe Bridge Junction and West Junction was always very busy with freight traffic to the docks. The branch lines led to a high-level coal drop and other parts of the docks.

Railway freight played an important part of the development of Goole. As well as the coal traffic, general goods were loaded onto ships and the L&YR took over the Goole Steam Shipping Company in 1905 to aid this growth. Originally most goods were loose and handled in the open air by a large number of men. Today everything is stored in containers or on pallets. A container service was first introduced by British Railways in the 1950s on their service between Goole and Copenhagen. Goole also had a Renault car terminal which transported cars by rail until the late 1980s.

Decline of the Railways

Railway traffic was always busy up to the war years, but in the 1950s traditional freight began to fall away. The Beeching Cuts of the 1960s saw the closure of all lines around Goole except for the lines between Doncaster & Hull and Knottingley to Goole. The Wakefield to Goole passenger trains were withdrawn in 1967 and a Leeds-Castleford-Knottingley-Goole service introduced. The flat Yorkshire countryside saw the construction of huge coal-fired power stations at Ferrybridge, Eggborough and Drax, this led to the re-opening of part of the H&BR line.

The Goole and Selby Railway


Visitor Comments

Posted by Geoff on 23/03/2006

My mum (nee Storr) tells me her granddad on her mum's side (Smith) drove the first passenger train to leave from Goole station. Can anyone confirm or add to this? Thanks.

Posted by Richard on 21/05/2006

In 1950s I attended Alexander Street Primary School. Some days I used to cut through Goole Station go onto the Hull bound platform, through the chute into the adjoining coal yard and out onto main road. It cut nothing off the walk home but it was exciting.

Posted by Elaine on 10/11/2006

Jones (who is into railways) on seeing the bottom postcard, produced The Observer's Book of Railways (1958) which describes the engine as a Lancashire & Yorkshire railway "B7" Class 0-4-0 Saddle Tank, introduced 1891 and designed by J.A.F.. Aspinall for dock shunting duties. Goes on to state "Several are stationed at Bank Hall and may be seen along the waterfront in the Liverpool dock area. Others are to be found at such widely scattered places as Goole and Bristol." Also, the loco in the post card above is the same type.

Posted by Shuffleton Streets on 04/05/2007

Who can give me more info on Oakhill Junction? I am interested in the "social" history as much as the "local".

Posted by Pedro on 12/05/2007

Oakhill Junction in the 1940s, my late brother was signalman here. I used to spend school holidays with him at work in the signal box. We would cycle down the track side from Bridge Street past the railway sheds to reach Oakhill. The railway wagons with coal and other goods would be diverted from here directly to Goole Docks, finally crossing Bridge Street to access the docks.

Posted by Shuffleton Streets on 16/05/2007

Pedro, thanks for your long memory and your family links to all things Goole! Do you remember whether the Oakhill Junction was near the former Oaks Hill Farm (in Airmyn parish - on Percy Estate landholding), or had the farm and buildings been demolished when the signal box, etc. was built and the Selby line laid c.1912?

Posted by Pedro on 17/05/2007

The only communication between boxes was telephone (no outside phone), just a line between signal boxes - the type where you lift off the ear piece and turn the handle. I remember how amused I was when a call came in; my brother would answer with "Aye Oakhill", then commence to pull the levers putting the train on the right track. My attempt with these levers was a dismal failure (I didn't have the strength). I also remember thick smoggy nights when he would have to walk up the line putting explosive devices on the track; when the train passed over one it would then stop directly outside the signal box before proceeding.

I hasten to add, none of these trains were passengers but solely goods wagons to Goole Docks. Sadly my brother passed away last year. Another case of (if I had only asked)

Posted by Shuffleton Streets on 18/05/2007

Thanks for confirmation, Pedro. I know the phones you mean, they were used in the first office I worked at c. 1955. Do you have any views on the siting of the Junction Box at Oakhill and the area generally with the engine sheds?

Posted by Pedro on 18/05/2007

Memory fading. My recollection in the 1940s is that we would enter Bridge Street from Stanhope Street - a set of gates here where the traffic lights are now situated. The gates used to close Bridge Street road traffic and enable goods trains access across to Railway Dock. The signal box here operating the gates. This is where we got on the track side with our bikes, cycled past the railway sheds crossing the lines various times. We then had a straight run approaching Oakhill signal box on our left (methinks). Oakhill Box was a two story building; downstairs some sort of tool store and coal store; up a wooden staircase to enter the work area. Heating was a coal burning stove. My brother previously walked to work here until our elder brother returned from the war in the pacific and bought him his first bike.

Posted by Shuffleton Streets on 04/06/2007

I recall those Stanhope Street/Bridge Street junction rail crossing and gates, also a footbridge over the line. Have been researching folks who lived at Oaks Hill Farm, the various cottages described as "Canal Cottages" (2 of these), "Canal Bridge Houses" (2), "5 Swing Bridge - Canal-side", "Orchard House", "Rose Cottage - Dutch River Side", "5 Old Bridge House" and "Earl Beverley's Sidings".

Posted by Shuffleton Streets on 10/06/2007

I took the opportunity to visit Oakhill with the Friends Group on their pond-dipping activity - was given a guided tour by Jamie, finding the site of the engine sheds, the "junction" and Lord Beverley's Siding. At this time of year vegetation hides much, but it was a really interesting experience to be down there among the glades and woodland and water. Shall return later in the year, but for now I have had at least this reccie, and can return to the maps with a better idea of this area.

Posted by Shuffleton Streets on 16/06/2007

Some detail to flesh out the Canal Cottages in 1901 - No. 5 Bridge House was home to Thomas Stones and his wife and four children. Thomas Stones was born in Rawcliffe and was a labourer working on the canal at this time. No. 6 Bridge House was occupied by Fred Roughton by then 60 years of age and foreman repairs on Canal. His wife and an adult son who was a hydraulic crane driver, and a daughter aged eleven. This family had birthplaces across the country - indicating that they had travelled with their industrial experience as jobs demanded. Dutch Riverside (north bank) had three cottages - occupied by Oxendale, Ward and Gibson households. First two were platelayers on the railway. Does this information strike anyone about their roots?

Posted by Goole Steam on 16/06/2007

Just been reading with interest the comments about the engine shed and Oakhill sites. As you say the best ref point above the old sheds site is the drain adjacent to what was Beverley Sidings. As youngsters we used to play under the bridge here, there is a walkway under the bridge and swallows and housemartins used to nest there, the water was pristine with sticklebacks, newts and the like. I went back there after 40 odd years and it was very depressing, full of burned out motorbikes, bits of car and the like. It is hard to imagine now what the place looked like in the 1950s and 60s, it was a real rural location, not like now with industry encroaching to the very door.

Posted by Barrie on 05/04/2009

Oakhill Junction. In 1951 I had become a railway and a radio enthusiast. I became friendly with the signal man at Oakhill Junction and his name was Frank Fairclough. He had been at the box since he came out of the services which I believe was around 1947 and I think that he would be about 25 years of age when I knew him. He was engaged to a young lady from Forge Valley near to Scarborough and around 1953 he actually married the lady and took up residence in Goole.

Oakhill Junction box was located on the passenger line which ran from Rawcliffe Bridge Junction to join the North Eastern railway at Boothferry Road signal box. The Selby branch joined this route at Oakhill Junction and the signal box was a Lancashire & Yorkshire box. We used to use the LMS bell code for all our signalling communications and Boothferry Road (a North Eastern box) had the inconvenience of using both bell codes.

I spent many happy hours down at the box as an unofficial guest of Frank and, living at the Woodland Avenue (north) end of Goole, used to cycle down the farm road to the signal box after school but on returning later in the evening I would follow Frank on his bike and we would cycle down the side of the track to the Dunhill Road area where we join the road. Occasionally we would go across the tip next to signal box and pass canal cottages coming out in Bridge Street near to the docks.

Posted by Eric on 01/07/2007

Both of the bottom two postcards show Lanky "Pugs" as the dock shunters were nicknamed. Two of these have been preserved by the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Trust. The one numbered 51218 has visited Goole Docks and worked in steam there in March 2003 - it is currently out of ticket, in the queue awaiting overhaul. If anyone has other pictures and is prepared to let us display them on our site, please let us know.

Posted by Fred on 06/04/2009

I used to travel on the Goole and Selby line in the 1960s. It looked that it may close, but with the building of Drax Power Station it now has a totally new lease of life!

Posted by Chris on 17/06/2009

Interesting site, I was born in Goole 1950, and still use this fact as a claim to fame even now. I have an uncle, Gerald Tighe, who lived in one of the cottages on the Dutch River where the railway crosses over. I remember visiting in the late 1950s and being surprised how basic they were. Also a friend of my maternal grandmother, Ivy Rowley, was a shunter driver, probably a pug, he would give me and my gran a ride on the docks lines in the 1950s - his name was Freeman Orange. Happy days.

Posted by Wilf on 18/06/2009

Chris, I knew your dad Ken, we both worked at Goole shipyard and also later at Brough.

Posted by Chris on 18/06/2009

Wonderful to hear from someone with a connection to the Inglebys. Ken died 1998. I hope you had good memories of him because I think he upset a few people along his way! I am his eldest son (59)

Posted by Patricia on 25/08/2009

You mentioned Ivy Rowley. Any relation to Watson Rowley? My granddad Frederick Arthur Watson was the man who trained Freeman Orange.

Posted by Chris on 13/09/2009

How I wish I could talk to all these characters now with all our modern technology to record and remember. Best wishes to all Goolies past and present.

Posted by Phil on 25/06/2009

I wonder if you can help with some info on Hensall Junction? My father was a platelayer there in the 1950s. There is an old spur there that used to connect to the ECML. Do you know its purpose and when it closed? Also there is still an engine shed and turntable pit at Hensall Junction? Were any locos ever based there? I assume they were L&Y or maybe H&B. Thanks.

Posted by Shaun on 21/10/2009

The old spur at Hensall Junction was never used. The railway companies fell out about money and it stood idle ever since. The old engine shed was a stop off point for crews to rest and changeover but when the LMS took over the H&B in 1922 this stopped. My mate Dave Bell worked at Hesall Junction until 1959.

Posted by Barrie on 16/11/2009

One of my friends Colin Batty lived in Snaith and his mother worked either the Hensall Junction box or Gowdall Junction box for most of the war years. I think that she would have been in her 20s then. There was an acute shortage of labour due to the war and a lot of women were employed in jobs that were traditionally men's work.

Posted by David on 21/09/2009

I have many happy memories of standing on the Hull bound platform at Goole waiting for a (very) early excursion train to Hull, changing there for the East Coast resorts of Filey, Bridlington and Withernsea. We never had a "proper" holiday but my dad Richard (Dick) Lloyd worked on the docks and was able to get "privilege" tickets which gave us cheap fares on the railway several times a year.

This was the 1960s and steam trains were still widely used but diesel trains had started to make an appearance. The small diesel multiple units were a disappointment as they were just like buses but what a fantastic experience when a mighty Class 55 Deltic pulled into the station with a rake of corridor coaches and the whole platform shook!

I have just completed a working scale model of the Guisborough Railway where we now live and have started looking around for my next project. Goole Station came to mind but it would very much depend upon the overall size and how much research information is available. Has anyone any ideas where I can start to get more information on the railway - particularly the station/goods yard area - during the 1960s?

Posted by Patsy on 29/09/2009

I remember direct excursion trains going to Bridlington, Filey and Scarborough from Goole on a Sunday. These were in the early 1960s and I got on at Saltmarshe with my parents and my friends joined me at Staddlethorpe Station.

Posted by David on 01/10/2009

Since my last message I have managed to obtain a good map showing the railway - unfortunately it is far more extensive than I realised and just to make a scale model of the station itself (extending from the Monkey Bridge to Kingsway Bridge) I would need a 40 foot room to get it in! Back to the drawing board for other ideas I think.

Posted by John on 07/01/2010

As a child I travelled by steam railcar (a Sentinel?) named after a stagecoach from Goole to Drax Hales and return. The A645 seems to have obliterated most of the line.

Posted by Jackie on 16/01/2010

I wonder if anyone can help me find details about my grandfather Fred Potter? All I know about him is that he worked for the railway and when he retired he sold newspapers at the entrance of the Railway Station at Goole. He stood outside there all weathers, well into his 70s, always with a happy disposition. He lived in the "railway house" opposite the station; the site now operates an Indian Restaurant and a charity shop I think. I believe he died in the 1970s. Anything about him would be most appreciated. Thanks.

Posted by Tina on 16/05/2015

I only came across this site today and read with great interest that in 2010 a lady was asking about Fred Potter. He was my great-grandfather. I appreciate it's a long time ago since she made the request, but if Jackie would like to contact me via email we have lots of information about him; in fact my mother has his George Medal that was awarded to him and all the documentation for his actions at the sidings one fateful night.

Posted by Vanessa on 29/09/2010

Does anyone know of Arthur Palmer who was born in Goole in 1926? His father was a railway goods guard in Goole and his mother's maiden name was Blackburn. They lived I think at Jefferson Street. Thanks

Posted by Harry on 12/11/2011

The Arthur Palmer I worked with was a signalman in Oakhill Junction. I believe he was in the Royal Navy. His father, also Arthur, was a goods guard at Goole. From the railway he went to work on Goole Docks where I caught up with him in 1964 after the railway closed in Goole.

Posted by Dean on 27/11/2014

I'm Arthur Palmer's grandson Dean. He was in the Merchant Navy, Royal Navy, signal man at Oakhill and a Docks worker until the mid-1980s. He unfortunately passed away in March 2005.

Posted by Ex Signal Box Lad on 04/09/2011

In 1967 in Boothferry Road signal box, the signal men were Jonny Straughn, John Bennett and Bill Brant. The signal box lads were David Owens (doggy) and Malcolm Raywood (rag). The relief signal men were Ron Barrow, James Harnett and Cyril Wright. The station master was a Mr Ellis, his understudy Stan Vince.

Posted by Ex Signal Box Lad on 22/04/2012

I remember Donny Smith who was a porter. A proper gentleman and very warm hearted

Posted by Ron on 11/01/2013

Does anyone remember my uncle Edward Ellis who was station master at Goole Station during the 1960s? Any information would be appreciated. Thanks.

Posted by John on 18/12/2013

I travelled with Ted Ellis, station master, from Goole to Wakefield after he finished his last working day. I recall him saying that he didn't know what he was going to do in retirement. I started in the traffic agents office, Stanhope Street, spent a period in the parcels office and the motive power depot. Upon closure I moved to the amenities block near Goole Goods Junction. Happy times.

Posted by Harry on 23/12/2013

I remember Ted Ellis well. He went with me to Hull, when I had an interview for the station inspector's job at Goole. Stan Vince was also a good friend, we were goods guards together. We also ran the Goole mutual sick fund together, my friend was a box lad in Boothferry Road and I was at the LMS (Lanky).

Posted by Norman on 30/04/2014

I worked on the railways and enjoyed every moment of it. A friend who I worked with at the old flax mill said the railways are setting on firemen; we went to the office in Stanhope St; he was first in to the office; they only wanted one fireman so he got the job. I finished up being a number taker at Marshalling Sidings along with foremen shunters and fellow number takers. When my job ended I finished up at the station goods yard delivering goods to the local shops and parcels to the local villages,

My colleagues were two of the best, Ken Batty and Harry Yoeman I have many more good memories

Posted by Tony on 26/07/2014

Used to go to Selby train spotting on the old push and pull trains. The driver let us ride the footplate between a couple of stations once we were on the single track.

Posted by Keith on 03/07/2015

I feel that British Rail are just having a laugh at Goole. I was held up today at the crossing gates, it was about five minutes before the train arrived at the station another five minutes before it unloaded its passengers, then another five before the barriers lifted. Surely there was no need to drop the barriers before the train stopped or until the train had unloaded? Anyone else get frustrated with Goole crossings?

Posted by John on 06/08/2015

I was a learner driver with Campbell's Driving School in the early 1960s and the level crossing gates seemed to be permanently closed between 17:00 and 18:00 at that time.

You would think that with the automatic crossings, albeit controller by a signalperson, there would be no need for the barriers to be closed to road traffic across Boothferry Road for some fifteen minutes to let one DMU pass through. I suppose the answer given would be that it was done on grounds of safety.

Should be consistent though, as when I was leaving Bridlington yesterday on my way home to York, the barriers dropped for a train to pass through for Hull at say 40 mph and then they were raised straight away after the train had passed. All complete in less than three minutes and this train was travelling at speed. The latter being completed without any involvement of a signalman.

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