img207Goole is a small industrial town lost in the middle of the Humberhead Levels, a flat expanse of land that surrounds the Humber estuary. Although it is small and isolated, Goole is one of the largest ports in England. The North Sea is 40 mi afar, but large boats easily reach Goole through the estuary.

img211The geographical site of Goole is completely artificial, as it was created in the 17th century by a Dutch engineer, Cornelius Vermuyden. Commissioned by Charles I, Vermuyden derivated the course of river Don, so that instead of flowing into the Trent, it converges with the Ouse. The works helped to dry up marshlands and because they improved the flow of the Ouse, they allowed large ships to reach the area. Therefore, the town of Goole was founded. However, it did not really develop until the 19th century, when it played a key role in the exportation of British coal. Nowadays, the port does not seem very busy although it remains one of the biggest on England’s East coast.


img210It is rather hard to figure out that Goole is just a few miles from the ancient towns of Selby and Howden. Unlike the two, it does not boast nice architecture nor proud landmarks. The whole town dates from the industrial era and it has always remained small, with just one high street, which stretches from the station to the church.

As such, Goole is not really what could be called a touristic place. However, the atmosphere of the port is rather interesting and unique and it will definitely be enjoyed by amateurs of industrial landscapes. The harbour can be discovered on foot. From the centre take Bridge Street then cross the docks through the pathway which leads to Aire Street from South Street. The port is surrounded by the Ouse and the Don, canalised in the 17th century. The Don is known as the ‘Dutch river’ in the area, in reference to Vermuyden.

img206The port is a collection of big warehouses, cranes and swing bridges. There are also quite a few pubs, lost in the middle of the docks or in line along Aire Street. It is hard to miss the Salt and Pepper Pots, two water towers which have become the symbols of the town. They were built in 1885 and 1927.

Goole has two museums – the Goole Museum, located in the library and dedicated to the local history (free entrance, open Tuesday to Saturday, website); and Yorkshire Waterways Museum, dedicated to canals and shipbuilding (free entrance, open every day during the Summer, closed on weekdays in Winter, website).

Back to the East Riding page

Around Goole :



Carlton Towers