Howdenshire History

Captain Samuel Wright of Goole

Goole History > Goole People & Families > Capt. Samuel Wright


From the Goole Times, 21st May 1897:




A well-known and greatly respected townsman, Captain Samuel Wright, died at his residence, Carlisle Terrace, on Sunday, after a protracted and painful illness, at the age of 75. The late Captain had had a long connection with Goole and its trade. In the early fifties he was the captain of one of the old class of passenger steamers which ran between Thorne Quay - or Thorne Waterside - and Hull, calling at Goole. Later, when the Goole and Hull Steam Packet Company was formed, Captain Wright was selected to take charge of the steamer Empress.

While connected with the Thorne boat, and also while with the Goole and Hull Co., the deceased gentleman was always noted for his extreme courtesy to all with whom he came in contact, and for his devotion and faithfulness to the cause of his employers. In fact the sterling integrity of his character, both in private and business life, were among the main features of his career.

The qualities which he exhibited as a captain were further displayed when, out of a large number of applicants, he was appointed harbour master and pilot master at the port of Goole. This was some thirty years ago when the trade of the port had not assumed its present proportions, and during the twenty years or so in which he held the post he saw a large development in the steam carrying trade of the port, as well as physical increases in the docks.

Some six or seven years ago he retired on a superannuation allowance from the Aire and Calder Navigation Company, by whom he was regarded as a conscientious and trusted servant who had applied all his energies in the best interests and to the success of the port. The deceased had not taken any prominent part in public affairs, the nature of his calling rendering that impossible, but he was a much esteemed member of the local Wesleyan body, having been a regular attendant at the North Street Wesleyan Church for many years. The late Captain Wright was twice married and leaves a widow and five children.

An account of the career of the late Captain Wright, so far as his connection with the port of Goole is concerned, must be largely a narration of the history of the port and the navigation of the river. Long before there was any railway communication with Goole from Hull or Doncaster, a line of steam boats ran from Thorne Waterside to Hull, calling at Goole on the way.

It was in the early fifties that Captain Wright took charge of one of those boats, the Don, a packet still remembered by many of the older inhabitants of Goole. A coach ran from Doncaster to Thorne Quay with passengers for Hull, the approach of which was heralded by a blast upon the coach horn when the vehicle was about a mile off, this signal being answered by a similar horn blown by the engineer of the Don, who evidently combined with the duties of an engineer those of a performer on the horn. The boat then called at Goole, pulling up in the Dutch River opposite the Ferry Boat Inn on Vermuyden Terrace, where the passengers for Hull embarked.

At this period the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway, having been extended to Goole in 1848, ensured that all passengers from Wakefield and the surrounding district for Hull travelled via Goole. There was always a good number of passengers who availed themselves of this route, and the Don and the other boats seem to have found the trade profitable.

This state of affairs continued till the year 1856 when the Goole and Hull Steam Packet Company (incorporated 1st December 1855) commenced on the 28th May of that year to run two steam boats from Goole to Hull. Captain John Moody was the chairman of the company, and one of its directors was the late Mr Jeremiah Bentley, to whom was offered the post of master to the new boat, the S.S. Empress. Mr Bentley declined the appointment, however, and it was then offered to the late Captain Wright, who accepted the mastership and commenced to run the vessel. Shortly after this the service from Thorne was stopped, and it is interesting to note that negotiations were commenced with a view to Mr Daykin, who had previously run the coach to Thorne, commencing a daily coach service from Doncaster to Goole to meet the Empress. An agreement was never, however, entered into, the parties not being able to arrange terms, and apparently the project of coach service was abandoned.

Captain Wright held the appointment of senior captain to the Packet Company till February 1868, and had charge of each new vessel as it was built for the company. In this connection it may be stated that owing to the shallowness of the River Ouse at low water prior to any alteration or improvement in the channel, navigation was extremely difficult, a circumstance of which Captain Wright had large and frequent experience while master of the Don and also later when in charge of the boats of the Packet Company. In fact, of such slight depth was the channel between Goole and the bottom end of Goole Reach that the steamer Her Majesty, which only drew from two to three feet, could not negotiate the channel at low water on the neap tides, and she had to leave early in the morning and go light to the end of the reach and wait there for the passengers who were conveyed thither in a 'bus. And even then it was no infrequent occurrence for the boats to be aground for a long spell.

During the whole of the time that Captain Wright was employed in the service of the Goole and Hull Steam Packet Company he discharged his duties to the thorough satisfaction of his employers, and gained the esteem of the passengers and all with whom he came in contact. It may be of interest to note in connection with the late Captain's service with the Packet Company that one of their boats, of which he had been in charge, the Her Majesty, was sold in 1860 and went to Portugal, while a later boat, the Princess, was sold in 1878 and taken by Captain Wright's son, Mr Sam Wright, to the West Indies.

With one exception the late Captain Wright's boats were free from casualty while he was in command and the only occasion on which there was any serious accident was in no way due to the master of the Empress. It happened soon after the Goole and Hull Steam Packet Company had been formed, and before the construction of any jetty at Whitgift. Passengers who desired to join the steamer there were ferried from the shore in a small boat. On the particular occasion of which we write, the time of the year being winter, the ferry had put off with six occupants, including the ferryman. Directly after starting, one of the men remembered he had left some tobacco on shore and the boat put back in order that he might obtain it. Once again started, two drovers who formed some of the passengers commenced to quarrel regardless of the fact that they were in an open boat. It was quite dark at the time and in their struggles the boat ran against the bows of the Empress, capsized and passed under her keel. With extreme difficulty two of the men were rescued. The other four were drowned. As an instance of the important part which trivial incidents play on great occasions it may be remarked that immediately on one of the men, a rat catcher, being rescued he began to lament the loss of his ferrets without any expression of gratitude for his own escape.

In February 1868, Captain Wright was selected from numerous applicants as dock master and pilot master at Goole, in succession to the late Mr Snowden. He remained in the service of the Aire and Calder Navigation Company till 31st March 1890, when he retired on a pension after a total service with the dock company of twenty-two years and one month.

During that long term Goole witnessed greater developments in her trade and made more rapid strides than at any other period of her existence. Both the Aldam Dock and the Railway Extension or Stanhope Dock were constructed to meet the growing demands of the trade of the port, and to accommodate the numerous steamships which were added to the local fleets, and also to make provision for the expanding logwood trade.

During the same years, however, the trade with which the late Captain Wright had been intimately connected decreased very much in importance owing to the opening of the Doncaster to Staddlethorpe branch of the N.E.R. with their station at Goole, which caused an immediate decline in the passenger traffic of the steam boats. Incidentally it may be mentioned that it was the opposition of the then Packet Company that led to the North-Eastern Railway withdrawing the clauses in the Bill by which they undertook to provide a foot and carriage way to the Hook bridge.

During the many years which Captain Wright spent as harbour master at Goole he won the respect of his employers and also succeeded by his genial manner and tact in maintaining the friendliest of terms with those with whom he had business relations. He was essentially a strong man, and a person of great personal integrity and worth.

During the whole of his life he had had practical experience of the Ouse and Humber, and the peculiarities of the channel were so well known to him that his knowledge was almost unique. In fact, his acquaintance with the river under all conditions was so wide and varied that whenever new schemes were promoted in Parliament affecting the river, he was invariably called upon to give evidence to the Committee. Thus, when the Hull and Lincolnshire Railway Bill was before Parliament, by which it was sought to bridge the Humber near Hessle, and which would have affected Goole as a seaport very seriously, Captain Wright was one of the strongest witnesses against the Bill, which was ultimately abandoned.

On the occasion, too, of the Ouse Lower Improvement Act 1884, by which the Aire and Calder Navigation Company, as conservators of the Lower Ouse, obtained authority to carry out certain improvements which have only lately been completed. Captain Wright gave evidence before the Select Committee and the value of his local knowledge and experience was of the utmost advantage to his employers.

It may be said of the deceased gentleman, finally, that he saw the beginning of Goole as a port of importance, used his best endeavours in his own sphere for its advancement during its probationary term, so to speak, and lived to see that success assured.


The late Captain Wright had been a member of the Goole P.S.A. [Pleasant Sunday Afternoon] since its inception, and at the meeting on Sunday afternoon a unanimous vote of condolence with the widow and relatives was passed by the members.


The funeral took place on Tuesday afternoon at the Goole Cemetery. The mourners were Mrs Wright, widow; Mr R. Watson Wright (goods department N.E. Railway, Newcastle), son; Mr S. Wright (Batley), son; Mr and Mrs J. Huntingdon, daughter and son-in-law; Mrs Fowler, daughter, and Mr Alec Fowler (resident engineer, Ribble Improvement, Preston); Masters Thomas and Richard Duckels, and Misses Annie and Nellie Duckels (Rawcliffe), grandchildren; Mr Fred Sanderson (Beverley), grandson; Mr Charles Fisher (Willoughby); Mrs Baxter (Thorne); Mr Wm Anson (Reedness); Mrs David Wright, Miss Reed and Mrs Newton. The Aire and Calder Navigation were represented by Mr W.E. Grayburn, Capt Bowman, Capt Ingleby, Messrs Beaumont, Young, Brown and Pratt. Mr J. Sutcliffe represented the Goole Towing Company, and there were also present Capt Bradley, Capt Robinson, Messrs Greenfield, Greenwood, Bentley, Pilot Jackson, Pilot Garner, etc. The officiating clergyman was the Rev. J. Caley. Several handsome wreaths from the relatives of the deceased were placed on the coffin.

Memorial Inscription: In loving memory of / Eliza / the beloved wife of Samuel Wright / of Harbour House, Goole / who died November 23rd 1885 / aged 65 years / Also of the above named / Samuel Wright / late dock master / who died May 16th 1897 / aged 75 years

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