Goole is a town, civil parish and port located approximately 45 miles (72 km) inland on the confluence of the rivers Don and Ouse in the East Riding of Yorkshire, England. The port is “highly versatile”, and is capable of handling nearly 3 million tonnes of cargo per annum, making it one of the most important ports on the east coast of England.
Goole is twinned with Złotów, Poland, (and was twinned with Rostock, East Germany in 1969 although this seems to have lapsed). Goole was informally twinned with Gibraltar in the 1960s; at that time, Gibraltar Court was named in Goole and Goole Court was named in Gibraltar.
The Dutch civil engineer Cornelius Vermuyden diverted the River Don northwards to the River Ouse in 1626-1629 to drain the marshland of Hatfield Chase at the behest of King Charles I. This also made the lower Don navigable for small barges so that coal from the South Yorkshire Coalfields could be transported to “Goole” at the new mouth of the Don (or “Dutch River”) for transfer to seagoing vessels.
The Aire and Calder Navigation Company opened their broad canal from Knottingley in the northern sector of the coalfield in 1826, together with eight transshipment docks at Goole and a company-built town. This gave rise to several innovations in materials handling by the chief engineer, William Hamond Bartholomew. In 1863 he introduced the Tom Pudding system of compartment boats which could each carry around 40 long tons (41,000 kg) of coal. In the docks, Bartholomew introduced large boat hoists which could lift the Puddings and discharge directly into seagoing ships which exported the coal to all parts of the world. These managed to compete with rail and were used until 1985.
For most of the life of the port, coal has been the dominant commodity handled. Another commodity associated with the mining industry was pit props. These were traditionally stored floating in the water at the Timber Pond. With the decline of the mining industry, pit props are no longer imported and the Timber Pond is now a marina trading under the name Goole Boathouse. It has berths for 150 boats and is the largest inland waterway marina in Yorkshire.
Three locks keep the water in 37 acres (150,000 m2) of docks at a constant depth of six metres by preventing the level from rising and falling with the tides in the River Ouse. Ships and barges entering the port must first pass through the locks. Once inside, there are eight docks with a total of three miles (5 km) of quayside at which they can berth. Besides the docks are transit sheds where cargo is stored, many of which are equipped with overhead cranes. Goole has regular cargo liner services to Norway, Sweden, Finland, Germany, Holland, Belgium, France, Spain, Morocco and South Africa. There is also trade by charter vessel to and from many other countries, including Russia, Denmark and Italy. Cargo from other parts of the world such as United States of America, China and Australia reaches Goole by transshipment services from Rotterdam.
When Goole first opened as a port it was a small new village of about 450 people. Now it is a small town with about 18,000 inhabitants.
The Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway built a line from Pontefract and Wakefield in 1848 and the North Eastern Railway connected with Doncaster and Hull in 1870. The prosperity from the coal and general cargo trade with the West Riding industrial area continued for 150 years after the opening of the canal. After a period of decline, these commodities were more than replaced by containers, the export of steel and the import of timber from north-eastern Europe. The two original 1826 docks, along with all six others built later, are still in full operation. Goole railway station is on the Sheffield to Hull Line and is the terminus of the Pontefract Line.
Glass and clothing are produced in Goole and it is the focus of an agricultural district.
Unusually in terms of English place-names, “Goole” has its origins in Middle English. It derives from the word goule, meaning “stream, or channel”. Goole was not recorded in the Domesday Book. Its first mention was in 1362 as Gulle.
Goole is south of the M62 linking it with Kingston upon Hull in the east and the West Yorkshire urban belt in the west. The M18 runs west of the town, connecting it with South Yorkshire, the South and the Midlands. Goole also has a railway station with services to Hull Paragon Interchange, Doncaster, Sheffield and Leeds, as well as the commuter railway stations in between. There are also bus services from Goole to surrounding towns and villages. Goole is within commuting distance from Doncaster, Hull, Leeds and York.
Before the reform of local government in 1974, brought about by the Local Government Act 1972, Goole was in the West Riding of Yorkshire. It was then placed in the Boothferry district of the newly formed county of Humberside, until that was abolished in 1996. Since 1996, Goole has been in the East Riding of Yorkshire. It is represented by six councillors on the East Riding of Yorkshire Council. Goole is currently in the parliamentary constituency of Brigg and Goole. The constituency is represented by one Member of Parliament in the House of Commons.
Goole has a modestly sized town centre with many high street shops, independent retailers and public houses. The main shopping area is Wesley Square, off Boothferry Road (which has been pedestrianised around the main shopping area). There is a modern retail development in the town centre, a leisure centre next to the docks, and the Goole and District Hospital, to the north of the town.
Goole’s most prominent landmarks are its twin water towers, dubbed the “salt and pepper pots”. In the winter months, Goole’s gas holder on Anderson Road is visible across the north of the town. Many of the hoists and cranes of the docks can be seen across the town. The steeple of Goole Parish Church is also tall enough to be seen across the town. The town’s landscape is made up mostly of utility and industrial structures. Because of its relative flatness, all the structures are largely set at the same height. A clock tower is also within the main shopping district of the town centralised on a roundabout.
Goole’s industrial park, Capitol Park, has attracted two large employers: Guardian Industries, which built a glass manufacturing plant, and Tesco, which built a distribution centre. The arrival of these employers resulted in hundreds of new jobs being created. A new Morrisons store opened in Goole on 2 August 2010, built on land previously occupied by Timms Mill on Boothferry Road.