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How Goole handles Coal

Taken from Goole - the Official Handbook, Goole Corporation, c. 1963...

The Port of Goole, fifty miles from the sea and almost within sight of the nearest Yorkshire Collieries, is very suitably equipped to handle considerable tonnages of coal and at the present time is shipping at the rate of about 2,500,000 tons per annum. This tonnage can be considerably increased and Goole is quite prepared to accept new demands without undue embarrassment to the efficient service and quick despatch for which it is, and will undoubtedly continue, to be noted.

Goole is in the unique position of having two distinct methods of handling coal - the railway and compartment boat systems, both of which are speedy and efficient. The port is equipped with four compartment and five rail loading appliances and all are situated in non-tidal docks, maintained at one level which never varies more than a few inches.

The loading of coal compartments at Goole Docks The compartment boat system, introduced many years ago by the Aire and Calder Navigation, is the only one of its type in the world. Coal is transported down the canals to the port in compartment boats which are steel containers measuring approximately twenty feet in length, fifteen feet six inches in breadth, and eight feet in depth. The carrying capacity of a compartment is in the region of forty tons. After being loaded at the collieries the compartments are formed into trains of nineteen which are towed by specially designed tugs and delivered to the port in readiness for shipment on the following day. On arrival at Goole, the coal is shipped, often in a matter of hours and return trains of empty compartments are on the way to supply the constant requirements of the collieries.

Tugs and compartments are regularly maintained by the British Waterways at their engineering department in the canal area at Goole. The four compartment hoists operated by hydraulic power can each deal with coal at an average rate of 3 / 400 tons per hour. The loaded compartments are towed on to the cradle of the hoist with the assistance of hydraulic capstans and are then lifted bodily and tipped sideways, the coal being transferred to the steamer by means of a chute, except in one case where it is tipped into a hopper which feeds a conveyor belt. Anti-breakage appliances are fitted to two of the compartment hoists and these can be used for the larger types of house coal.

At the present time, coal is transported by the compartment method from Allerton Bywater, Fryston, Wheldale, Water Haigh, Whitwood, West Riding and Hatfield Main Collieries, and opencast coal is loaded at Swillington Staithe, near Wakefield. All deep-mined coal is loaded into compartments at the colliery staithes from internal users' wagons and opencast from self-tipping lorries. Other collieries are connected to the canals and before the last war tonnage was also shipped from Parkhill /St. Johns, Newmarket, Rothwell Haigh and Savile. Coal is also carried by barge from the South Yorkshire area, transferred to compartments at Goole and shipped in the normal manner.

During the season coal tar pitch, from the Yorkshire Tar Distillers Plants at Stourton and Knottingley, is shipped by compartments and from time to time a considerable tonnage of coke is handled.

The rails section of the port is well equipped with five loading appliances, two hydraulic hoists of forty and thirty-two tons, hydraulic crane of fifty tons, and a 40-ton electric crane. These appliances have a total working capacity of more than 10,000 tons per day. The cranes are ideally suited for the shipment of tender coals and are capable of lowering wagons almost into the vessels' holds prior to the coal being released. Goole is extremely well placed in regard to siding accommodation and can carry a stock of over 15,000 tons of rail borne coal alone on any one day. The sidings are within easy reach of the port and no problems exist in regard to supply.

Stocks of certain fuels are normally on hand at both rail and compartment docks and in the interest of despatch, steamers can often be switched from one system to the other prior to commencement of loading, thus avoiding congestion on any one department. Every endeavour is made to prevent two-way loading and today it is unusual for this to be necessary.

Many receivers of coal from Goole import similar ranges of fuel and in consequence a pooling system of groups of coal was introduced which, over a period of years, has proved very successful and has certainly assisted shipowners and charterers to maintain the 'regular loading' terms which are peculiar to Goole. Other owners who are chartered on hours loading are, of course, subject to similar service, and quick turn-round is the constant aim of everyone connected with the trade.

The question of bunker coal receives daily consideration. A stock of good quality South Yorkshire brands is available at all times and each shipment receives individual attention.

Geographically, Goole is fortunately placed as a coal loading port as numerous major collieries are within a distance of twenty-five miles. Coal can be transported very rapidly in case of necessity and normally is marshalled at Goole in readiness for shipment within a few hours of leaving the collieries.

Coal shipments at present are principally coastwise. Since 1951 coastwise coal shipments have been at an annual rate of 1,500,000 to just over 2,000,000 tons. Over and above these tonnages there are foreign shipments of coal, coke and pitch. Goole specialises in the shipment of all qualities of coal, from house coal to graded industrial coal for gas and electricity undertakings and industry generally. Vessels leave the port to destinations along the East and South Coast and Channel Islands with cargoes varying from a few hundred tons for the smaller ports and harbours to cargoes of up to 2,000 tons in modern vessels for the larger consumers. Vessels carrying coke cargoes take a considerable deck cargo tonnage in addition to full holds.

Foreign coal and coke shipments are generally to ports in Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Holland, Norway and Sweden, and it is by no means unusual to despatch occasional cargoes to many other countries. The port is also noted for the shipment of coal tar pitch and each year deals with practically the entire export of the Yorkshire plants.

Shipping authorities in Goole look forward with confidence in regard to exports and the question of quick despatch combined with efficient service will not be overlooked. At the moment, the port is undoubtedly regarded as being among the first in Great Britain as far as despatch is concerned and there is every reason to believe that the position will he maintained.

Capacity at the port of Goole is far greater than has been achieved to date, and it would be safe to say that the record port coal shipments of almost forty years ago - 2,773,640 tons - could be achieved without undue embarrassment. In 1956 in fact the appliances handled 2,492,000 tons. The canal system could carry and ship an appreciably greater volume of traffic. The majority of vessels which are being handled are of modern construction and require little trimming. There are few delays and the appliances are free to tip coal almost constantly. Another feature is that in view of the coastwise traffic flowing into the port on a weekly basis, stemming of vessels can be regularised and this is what is actually happening today when there is no major congestion of shipping.

Finally, a few words about the human relationship which exists in Goole. There are no labour problems in regard to coal and none is anticipated. A friendly and co-operative atmosphere exists between all concerned and regular communication is maintained with trimmers, coaling appliance workers and dock and railway employees with a view to maintaining a genuine interest in the work.

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