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.