GOOLE, a sea-port and market-town, and the head of a union, in the parish of Snaith, Lower division of the wapentake of Osgoldcross, W. riding of York, 4½ miles (S.) from Howden, 25 (W.) from Hull, and 175 (N. N. W.) from London; containing 2850 inhabitants. This place, which is situated on the river Ouse, near its confluence with the Dutch river, which communicates with the Don, has within the last thirty years risen from an inconsiderable and undistinguished hamlet into a town of commercial importance. The town and port owe their origin to the construction of the Knottingley and Goole canal, for which the Aire and Calder Navigation Company obtained an act of parliament in 1820. This canal, which communicates with the river Aire at Ferry-Bridge, and thereby completes the most important line of inland navigation in the kingdom, was opened to the public on the 20th of July, 1826; and in the year following, by commission from the court of exchequer, the town was constituted a port for foreign trade. On the 6th of April, 1828, a brig laden with merchandise cleared out of the dock for Hamburg, in the presence of a vast concourse of people, assembled from various parts to celebrate the event; and on the same day, a market for corn and provisions of all kinds, to be continued weekly, was opened in a commodious market-place. In the course of this year, the company obtained another act for further improvement in the navigation, and for the construction of additional docks for the accommodation of large steam-ships, then recently introduced; these works were commenced in 1835, and completed in 1838.
The harbour is situated near the confluence of the Dutch river with the Ouse, over the former of which is an ancient wooden bridge of three arches, connecting the town with Old Goole. It has an entrance basin 250 feet long and 200 wide, communicating with the Ouse, here 500 feet wide, by two locks, one of which will admit vessels of more than 300 tons' burthen; and, by gates, with a ship-dock 600 feet long and 200 wide, having an average depth of 18 feet, and with a dock for barges 900 feet in length and 150 in width, having a mean depth of 8 feet. These docks communicate with each other by means of gates and swivel-bridges; and the barge-dock has a communication also with the Goole and Knottingley canal, over which is a handsome stone bridge of one arch. The new works consist of a spacious wet-dock and a large dry-dock, the former communicating with the ship-dock, which has been lengthened for the purpose, and opening into the Ouse by a lock 210 feet long and 58 wide; and towards the river a stone frontage has been erected, connecting the entrance into the lock with the entrance harbour. The quays are commodious, and there are extensive ranges of warehouses for bonding merchandise of every description, one of which is approved as a warehouse of special security; yards for timber, iron, slate, and other articles; and a timber-pond capacious enough for floating 3000 loads. A patent-slip for repairing vessels was formed in 1830; and every requisite accommodation has been provided for facilitating the general business of the port. Between the docks and the entrance harbour are the custom-house and excise-office, forming a handsome structure, of which part is also appropriated as merchants' counting-houses, and offices for the Aire and Calder Company; and between the entrance harbour and the river Ouse, coal-sheds have been erected for the supply of steamers frequenting the port. In the construction of the various works and buildings connected with the navigation, the company have expended more than £1,000,000, at this place, and on their line of navigation to Leeds and Wakefield, since the year 1820. An act was passed in 1845, authorizing the construction of a railway to Snaith, Pontefract, and Wakefield, 27 miles long; and in 1846, another act was obtained empowering the railway company to construct a station, a jetty, coal-staiths, and other conveniences at Goole. The trade of the port consists chiefly in the exportation of coal, lime, the woollen and cotton manufactures of Barnsley, Wakefield, Leeds, and Manchester, and the iron and cutlery wares of Birmingham and Sheffield; and in the importation of corn, timber, wool, and other goods. The amount of duties paid at the custom-house, in a recent year, was £61,599; the number of vessels of above 50 tons' burthen registered as belonging to the port, was 163, and their aggregate tonnage 14,640, exclusive of small craft for the inland trade, and six steam-vessels employed in carrying passengers and merchandise to Hull, and towing vessels into and out of the harbour.
The town, which is situated to the north of the docks, consists of several spacious and regularly formed streets, containing numerous well-built houses; and, from the uniformity of its style, has a very pleasing aspect as seen from the river. A subscription library was established in 1836; and rooms have been erected by a proprietary, in which assemblies and concerts take place, and public meetings are held. The market is on Wednesday, and is numerously attended. The powers of the county debt-court of Goole, established in 1847, extend over the registration-district of Goole. The township comprises by computation 4280 acres, of which upwards of 3500 are in cultivation, more than 500 peat-moss, and the remainder water; the soil has been greatly improved by warping: formerly the staple produce was the celebrated Yorkshire kidney-potatoes, so much esteemed in the London market, but these may be said to be now almost entirely superseded by the Scotch red-potato. The old village of Goole extends southward along the banks of the Ouse, and consists of houses irregularly built. A temporary place was fitted up for divine worship by the Aire and Calder Company in 1830, accommodating about 300 persons; and a handsome church, for which the company gave the site, besides supplying the stone, and other materials to a great extent, has been since completed: it is dedicated to St. John the Evangelist, and contains 1000 sittings. The first stone was laid on the 28th of June, 1843, by T. H. S. Sotheron, Esq., who subscribed £500 towards the building. The living is in the gift of Trustees. There are places of worship for Wesleyans, Primitive Methodists, and Independents; and a free school with an endowment in land producing £21 per annum. The poor law union of Goole comprises 18 parishes or places, 16 being in Yorkshire, and 2 in the county of Lincoln; and contains a population of 12,535.