Goole is a town, civil parish and inland port located approximately from the sea at the confluence of the rivers Don and Ouse in the East Riding of Yorkshire, England, although historically within the West Riding of Yorkshire. According to the 2011 UK census, Goole parish had a population of 19,518, an increase on the 2001 UK census figure of 17,600. The port is highly versatile and 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.
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. It made the lower Don navigable for barges so that coal from the South Yorkshire Coalfield 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 its broad canal from Knottingley in the northern sector of the coalfield in 1826, and built eight transshipment docks and a company built town. William Hamond Bartholomew the chief engineer introduced the Tom Pudding system of compartment boats, which could carry around of coal in 1863. In the docks, Bartholomew introduced large boat hoists to lift the Puddings and discharge them directly into seagoing ships to export the coal to all parts of the world. They successfully competed with rail and were used until 1985.
For most of the life of the port, coal was the dominant commodity handled. Another commodity associated with the mining industry was pit props which were traditionally stored floating in the water at the Timber Pond. With the decline of the mining industry, pit props are no longer imported. 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 of floating 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 they are inside, eight docks provide a total of three miles (5 km) of quayside at which they can berth. Beside 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, the Netherlands, 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 opened as a port, it was a new community of about 450 people. Now it is a town with about 18,000 inhabitants.
After a period of decline, commodities were replaced by containers, the export of steel, and the import of timber from north-eastern Europe. The two original 1826 docks, and the six built later, are still in operative. 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, which is also the centre of an agricultural district.