Goole's success as a port came from its ability to compete with the railways to export coal from the Humber. This was achieved by a system of compartment boats developed by William Bartholomew in 1863. They were locally known as 'Tom Puddings' ('Tom' meaning something large and 'Pudding' because they compartments looked like intestines or a string of sausages or black pudding) and consisted of long trains of compartments which could hold around 40 tons of coal each. The compartments were lifted into awaiting ships at Goole via hydraulically operated hoists. Between 1863 and 1912, five hoists were used at Goole to cope with the enormous tonnage of coal. The system continued to be used up to 1985.
Normally trains of 21 compartments were used, although sometimes up to 38 could be carried in one go. The compartments often floated at different levels depending on the type of coal being carried. The front few compartments were usually not fully loaded to make the barge propeller more efficient. The limiting factor was the size of the locks (trains often had to be split) and any side winds which could skew the train too close to the bank.
Originally locks were between 215 and 265 feet long which allowed about 10 compartments through in one go. Eventually all the locks from Goole to Castleford were increase to 450 for a maximum of 19 compartments. Sometimes union agreements limited the size of the boats.
A large number of empty compartments and tugs were based at Goole. Collieries would inform Goole daily with their requirements. This allowed empty trains to go from Goole and be efficiently distributed between the different collieries and to ensure there were enough spare compartments to go round.
In the busy periods a tug would only have to visit one colliery, but later they had to call at two or three to be economical.
At the colliery, each compartment was dragged up from the canal onto a railway bogey running on an underwater railway track. These were then taken by an engine to the colliery for the coal to be loaded.
Once it was loaded, the locomotive would push the compartment back into the canal where it would float off the bogie and could be shackled together into a boat train and towed to Goole. The system became known as the 'Railway on the Water'. It was so economical that the cost of transporting coal this way was far cheaper than the railways or other canals in the country.
When they were towed, the compartments were held together by chains. An axe was kept handy to cut the chains as if one compartment sank, it could drag the others down. Each compartment had a walkway to allow the boatmen to move around.
A leader or jebus was attached to the front of the tug to act as a breakwater. The tugs were originally steam-powered and just given numbers, but were later powered by diesel and named after the collieries they served.
Once the compartments arrived at Goole, they were split up and stored ready to meet the demands of the outgoing ships. At peak times over 200 compartments could arrive at Goole each day. South Dock and Ouse Dock were used as storage places and could hold up to 800 loaded compartments sorted on the grade of coal they were carrying.
The hoists at Goole were 90 feet high. No.1 was built of wood and the rest of steel. A cage was lowered to below the water level and a loaded compartment was moved over it. At the same time hydraulic pistons could move the empty one out of the way. The loaded compartment was then secured to the cage and the whole thing raise to the required height for the ship. Another pair of pistons then rotated the case 125 degrees to allow the coal to tip out into the ship's hold. Two 'spoutmen' would used shovels to ensure no coal was left behind.
In the early days the hoists could handle around 100 tons of coal per hour. This increased to around 300 tons per hour as the design of ships' holds improved. The fastest loading was in 1947 when the 'Lady Sheila' loaded 251 tons in half an hour and arrived and sailed on the same tide.
Sometimes the compartments would carry bunker coal for the steamship itself. In most cases this had to be shovelled manually into a skip which was then loaded into the ship's bunker. It would take four men half a day to empty a compartment.
Hoist work was controlled at Goole by a Coal Inspector, two assistants and six Hoist Foremen. The Foremen checked which compartments needed tipping and would write the name of the ship with chalk on the side of the compartment. The spoutmen would then know which order to do the work.
It was often a Health and Safety nightmare, with the hoist operator having instructions shouted to him which he could not hear and inadequate lighting when working at night. The tugmen were notorious for turning up to work drunk and they often went poaching on the river banks to try and supplement their income.
No. 4 hoist was originally a floating hoist that could be moved from one part of the docks to another. It was built in 1910 and dismantled in 1968. Various devices were used to keep the coal in good condition. These ranged from devices at the collieries to covers on the compartments which were important to keep certain types of coal dry. Most coal damage came when it was tipped by the hoist into the ship's hold. Anti-breakage devices were tried at the end of some hoists, which would gently lower the coal on small conveyor belts, but they were fiddly to use. In the end the cheapness of the system was more important than the quality of the product.
Coal was not just transported via compartments. Railway Dock had a high-level railway coal drop run by the L&YR. Wagons would enter along a high-level railway line, be tipped in to ships, and returned via a low line.
The use of Tom Puddings ceased in 1986 due to reduced markets. The final shipment was made to the MV. Dimple with coal from South Yorkshire ending a system with 122 years of use carrying 55 million tons of coal. Of all the five coal hoists that Goole had, only hoist No. 5 remains intact and is now a preserved building used as part of the waterways museum. There are also the diesel tugs, two jebuses and four compartments in existence. Hoist No. 3 was demolished in 1993 as part of dock expansion, although the controls were preserved for display.
The last compartments were built in 1977. Accidents sometimes happened with ships hitting loaded compartments and sinking them. This was made worse if they were tied together in dock as one sinking could bring down many others. In the worse accident, sixty loaded compartments sank in Ouse Dock in 1960. Sunken compartments were recovered by lifting them up with chains or screws, or in extreme cases by lowering the water level in the docks.
I dragged my other half all round the system looking for a Tom Pudding (he'd been laughing at the name) and there wasn't one around at the time.
I found this site a few months back when we were looking for some reference to Tom Puddings (to do with an article in Archive magazine I think).
When the boats were laden, I believe from fallible memory (late 1940s - early 1950s) that the Jebus was coupled behind the tug, but when they were empty, the it was coupled in front as a false bow, when the leading boat would be "cocked up" i.e. the front aspect would be slightly raised. (Where else have I heard that phrase in connection with Goole?).
I was told that the position of the Jebus was altered in order to create a flow down the sides of the boats to help maintain a less deviating path, and the "cocking up" lessened drag.
Incidentally, does anyone out there know the origin of the use of the word 'Jebus' in this connection?
I served my apprenticeship at Goole Repair Yard, known locally as the Top Yard. This was situated on the Dutch River side about 400 yards before the timber pond and the then called Smiths boatyard. It had a "pan" shop, a boiler shop, a fitting shop, carpenter's shop, blacksmith's shop, sawmill, tinsmith's shop, sailmaker's. It boasted a dry dock and slipway for winching flyboats / barges out of water. The inlet from the canal was approx 500 yards upstream of the No 3 drydock which was situated adjacent to the old gas house at the back of the "Cape of Good Hope" public house. Its function was to repair compartment boats or "puddings" jebuses, or leaders to give them their correct name, tugs, of which there were originally 3 long tugs (used for towing flyboats), and approximately 7 or 8 tugs for towing the strings of "tom puddings" up and down the canal.
When I started my apprenticeship all the tugs were steam driven reciprocating engined vessels,and were all rivetted construction as were the "puddings." The compartment boats were floated into a small cut at the end of the pan shop and then an overhead crane picked them out of the water and deposited them on four blocks which stood them about four feet off the floor, from which position they were repaired. The "pan shop" could hold approximately 12 pans and they were worked on in rotation with two or three pans a week being repaired. Boiler work was also under taken and shell repairs on the tugs and barges as required.
Without this yard the coal trade would have come to a grinding halt and yet strangely there seems to be no mention of it.
Can F. Huntington fill in on the former Dog and Duck across the canal. Used to be taken there as a child in the 40s, to visit the Acaster family.
the name above has always been applied to the repair yard,which was then(in 1949)a part of the Aire and Calder navigation,and was subsequently part of the nationalisation of many industries.It subsequently was called the D.I.W.E.(divisional inland waterways engineering) or executive.The yard manager at that time was Mr Charles Marland,and he was superceded by Mr Leslie Pearce,the well known Goole Town cricketer.The timber pond was a shallow area some 200 yards upstream of the repair yard where baulks of timber were floated in and left to season or stored until required .Directly across from the timber pond was a basin known as the "Dog and Duck",I seem to remember being told that sometime in the past a pub of that name had been located there.At the time I worked at the Top yard the "Dog and Duck" basin was the site of Camplings repair yard owned and managed by the late Claude Campling. I have a host of memories of the time I worked there from 1949,until 1964.If anyone wants to know of people or events during that time I would be glad to help them and share my memories of that period of my life
In the 40s, it was home of Acaster family, although perhaps it began as a lock-keeper's canalside cottage. There were small cottages for canal workers south of present Dutch River and Canal bridges. Called Bridge Houses 5 and 6 in 1901 census, lived in until 40s, if not later.
sorry,I have no recollection of the Cooperage.or its whereabouts.There will no doubt be some info in Goole's archives,I would suggest somewhere around the 1900's.
Found a guy living in Manuel Street 1901 census who was a working cooper too.
Couper Street, O.Goole, named after developer of that time - one George Couper. Incidentally he was a pal of George Gleadow, father of the hatter and hosier.
My question is does anyone have any information on the "S.S. Remus" of Goole. Torpedoed 23rd Feb 1918 off the Orkneys. My GG Uncle Martin Morrisroe drowned in this attack. I have been to the Towerhill Memorial and Trinity house but the records are very short.
It worked a treat and we got a plug on BBC TV.
The idea was to start a service from Leeds to Goole, with up to 8 puddings in a string (one 20ft container in each), taking approx a day to make the journey. The energy required was insignificant.
Unfortunately BWB had the redundant Tom Puddings (there were about 80) cut up for scrap, so there was nothing to convert,
My uncle Fred Overington was lost in the incident and i am just trying to find the location and any further information.
Thanks in advance.
Waddingtons bought the pair of them and the last i know they were layed ashore topside of swinton lock.
and they both love to swim in the canal ,I went too School in Old Goole At aged 5 , but I can still remember the day we landed in Goole or Should I say Airmyn yes Number 5 swing bridge was in the borough of Airmyn Not Goole it was right next too the BR engine shed ,yes I had my own railway to my self Thank you BR you could set your watch by them coal trains ,like WD 2-8-0 austerity Locos Number's90531 90300 90213 90228 90186 90281 all 25C shed code of Goole 90099 .90132 .90172 90094 90091 90009 All 53Aor 53C for Hull Depot's these are the ones i remember the shunters where 0-6-0 tender locos and some tank locos ,mostly Aspinalls class 23's and class 27's L&YR the smallest ones we have at Goole where the unforgetable 0-4-0 L&YR Aspinall Pugs like 51222 (3 little ducks) thats what we all call it! and numbers 51241&51244 well i can go on for ever with steam loco's . And I was One of Gooles Moblie DJs And I not done any Djing work for some 10years or so But Now I'am Back , So if you like to make a booking then Email me at Annajeannette@btinternet.com , for top music in Rock&roll Tamla Mototown Northern Soul, Party Disco 70s80s, All At Rock-it Roadshow , yours A J Dixon
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I'm interested in the chain compressors that were fitted to some pans whilst in the dock (commonly called knacker bouncers). As far as I can see they were at one time fitted to 2 of the surviving pans but have been removed. If anyone knows where there is one, or likely to be one, I would be very interested. They were made of cast iron and fixed to the deck by 4 bolts. They had a bed with the shape of 3 chain links, and attached hinged arm with a heavy round weight on the end to flip over and trap the chain. They were used like modern chain compressors for a quick release of the chain.
Regards N R
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