This is an unofficial guide to all things Goole-related. For those of you who haven't heard of the place, it's not a search engine based in East Yorkshire, but a small town in Northern England full of Goolies. It is unusual because it's an artificial town, originally built to serve the Aire & Calder Canal. It is one of the few places in this country that knows exactly when it was formed. The Clock Tower marks the year, 1826, when Goole opened its doors (or should that be lock gates?)
Purpose of this site
This site was set up by an expat to see if anybody out there is interested in the town. Judging from the feedback, there is some demand. Hopefully, by browsing this site, it won't just be the people of Zlotow who've heard of the place.
I do value your comments and contributions. I read all feedback, although I'm notoriously unreliable for replying to them. Most feedback is for lots more historical information. Being a sea-port, the Goole genes have spread around the world and people are trying trace their ancestors. There is now a lot more of this, which hopefully will be of interest to people in the town as well.
Please send questions, compliments or complaints to email@example.com
If you're trying to track down relatives from the area then visit the genealogy page, if your ancestors sailed from the port then try the ships page, if you want to see where Goolies are around the world then dip into the Goole Gene Pool, if you want to view feedback or even send some of your own then go to the emails page, if you've got a funny nose then try The Reedness Test, if you've ended up here because you can't spell then you probably want Google, otherwise feel free to browse or use the search box in the top-left.
Remember that this site is completely non-commercial, was written firmly tongue-in-cheek and should be taken with a pinch of salt. If I make a light-hearted comment about syringes in parks, then it does not mean that national newspapers should quote the phrase out of context. If I have a webcam and subsequently say that the pictures are hand-drawn by a primary school, then assume it's not for real. Be careful about using this material for radio phone-ins in case I've got my facts wrong.
Where Is It?
Goole is found in God's own county of Yorkshire. This is the largest county in Britain and also the friendliest (in any Yorkshireman's opinion). Yorkshire stretches from the Holderness coast in the east to the Dales in the west, and from Middlesbrough in the north to Sheffield in the south.
Originally, Yorkshire contained three Ridings. It is currently split into North, West and South Yorkshire. Due to popular revolt, the old county of Humberside has been split into the East Riding of Yorkshire, North Lincolnshire and Hull.
It is the home to Tetley Beer, sheep farming and coal mining. It is also a cultural centre containing the National Film, Railway, Armouries and Pop Music Museums. The 0 degree meridian passes through Cleethorpes (and Greenwich). In the sporting world it is famous for cricket, football, Rugby League, whippet chasing and pigeon racing. It is the home of the world's largest kebab, the world's largest Yorkshire Pudding and the world's longest single-span suspension bridge (after that new one in Japan).
Yorkshire has friendly rivalries with Lancashire and Lincolnshire as well as the general north/south rivalries within Britain itself.
Goole is situated where the River Ouse meets the Aire and the Don. It's the most inland port in the country. Being such a popular place, various counties have laid claim to the town. Although it currently resides in East Riding of Yorkshire, it has belonged to Humberside and West Yorkshire in past decades. Goole is a very isolated town. The nearest large towns are Selby, Doncaster, York and Hull - all over fifteen miles away. This isolation helps give the inhabitants an identity.
How to get here
- By Car - The M62 motorway runs past the edge of the town - leave at Junction 36 and follow the signs for the town centre. There are nice views of the town from the Ouse Bridge which carries the motorway over the river.
- By Bus - There are regular bus services from York, Hull and Doncaster.
- By Train - There is a frequent service from Doncaster and Hull. The Inter City service from Hull to London once passed directly through the town (at 125mph).
- By Cycle - The surrounding countryside is flat and ideal cycling country. Goole lies close to the Trans-Pennine cycle route and the Sustrans Hull to Middlesbrough cycle path.
- By Canal - The Knottingley/Goole canal is a popular trip for recreational canal boats. There is also a canal to Doncaster.
- By Air - There was a plan to build an international airport on Thorne Moors in the 1960s. This never took off, so you'll have to fly to Leeds/Bradford, Humberside or Doncaster airports.
- By Ferry - In the old days, you could get direct ships to the continent as part of the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway service. Nowadays the nearest ferry is from Hull to Zeebrugge.
- By Steam Packet - In the old days there was a steam packet service linking to Selby and Hull.
- By RAF rescue dinghies - A sore point with the villagers of Gowdall, Cowick and Snaith
Goole. It is part of a flat countryside where dykes and canals, windmills and willows, are everyday things; it stands where the Ouse is met by the Don, known on its journey between Snaith and Goole as the Dutch River, a cutting begun in Charles Stuart's day for draining the marshes of Hatfield Chase, now 70,000 acres of fertile land. Though it makes paper and has engineering, chemical, and other works, Goole looks to the sea for most of its living, the sailors (who love it) calling it Sleepy Hollow.
In less than a century it has become a notable port. England's farthest port inland, 50 miles from the sea. Its liveliest scenes are on the water front, where ships from far and near come up on the tide to enter the fine docks; funnels and masts, cranes and warehouses, making a ragged skyline, with the tall spire of the 19th Century church rising by them.
Between the town and its neighbour Hook is a bridge carrying the railway over the Ouse. Said to weigh 670 tons, it is 830 feet long, and has a movable section of 250 feet which can be opened in less than a minute. Two miles from Goole the fine new Boothferry Bridge takes the road traffic to and fro.
Goole's great Water Tower, the biggest in England, is 145 feet high and holds three-quarters of a million gallons. The peace memorial is a small copy of the Cenotaph in Whitehall, standing in green lawns among roses and orange blossoms. Close by are fine schools in their own pretty gardens.
In the cross-shaped church are memorials to heroes of land and sea. The portrait of one is in a window, an aeroplane over his head; an inscription to another tells us that he ran to his death leading his men in the first year of the Great War. There is a tribute to those who went down with the Calder in 1931, and another to the men of the Colne who sailed from Goole in 1912 and vanished with their ship.
"The King's England", edited by Arthur Mee
The word Goole is a Middle English word meaning "a small stream" or "water channel." Goole did not exist until the early 1800s. Until then there were small farming villages nearby at Hook, Airmyn, Howden. The rural past is reflected in some of the street names such as Westfield and Marshfield.
In 633 AD the area was the site of the Battle of Hatfield in which the powerful Northumbrian King called Edwin was defeated by Penda, King of the Mercians (the Midlands). The King's head was laid in a small chapel in York which was later to become the site of York Minster. In later centuries Hatfield became the site of a manor and a famous Bishop of Durham called Thomas Hatfield was born here. His tomb lies below the bishops' throne in Durham Cathedral. For most of its history, the land surrounding Hatfield was known as Hatfield Chase. The chase was a swampy, fenland area and stretched far into Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire.
The history of Goole begins when a Dutch engineer, Cornelius Vermuyden, diverted the river Don by ten miles to make it flow into the River Ouse rather than the River Aire. This was done at the request of the King who liked to go hunting on Hatfield Chase near Doncaster and was fed up with the land always flooding. This allowed the land around Goole to become more habitable. His name lives on in Goole when the old Grammar School was renamed as Vermuyden School.
In 1826, the Aire & Calder Navigation Company opened a new canal from Leeds to Goole. This was the start of Goole as we know it and a large town built up exporting coal from the West Riding of Yorkshire to the Continent.
Various shipping lines set up in the town, each one having their own fleet of ships, ensigns and offices in the town. The railway came a few decades later with the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway using the port as its outlet to the North Sea and boom time came.
Other Goole engineers such as Stanhope, Aldham and Bartholomew invented radical ways to improve the efficiency of the docks. The most famous of these were the coal hoists. These allowed small barges (Tom Puddings) carrying coal from the Yorkshire coalfields to be lifted from the water and their contents loaded directly into waiting ships. These were in use until the mid-1980s and only one of the original five remains. This is now a listed building.
At its peak, Goole was a rival to Hull. A mural at the L&YR's Victoria Station shows the prominence of the town. There were passenger ferry services to Europe and the world, and local steam packet services to Hull and York. For a town of 10,000 people there were three cinemas, two theatres and a ridiculous amount of pubs serving both the locals and visiting sailors. Various municipal parks were built and the town expanded to the surrounding countryside. Goole benefited greatly from the manufacturing power of Yorkshire and rail links were built to Selby, Hull and Doncaster. A shipyard was built across the river in Old Goole.
The Victoria Pleasure Grounds were built and Goole Town FC was successful in the local leagues. Famous Goole landmarks such as the "Salt and Pepperpot" water towers, the cranes, mills, the Grammar School and chimneys were built.
Despite its prosperity, Goole was still quite isolated and surrounded by beautiful flat countryside. It became known as "the Port in Green Fields".
The town was bombed during the zeppelin raids of World War I. A mass grave for the victims, when a theatre was hit, still exists in the cemetery. It was only bombed once in World War II by a lost plane. Goole's merchant sailors played a great role in keeping supply lines to Scandinavia open (Norway provide the town's Christmas tree every year as way of thanks), and sections of the Mulberry Harbour, used in the D-Day landings, were constructed in Goole and floated down to France.