Special Collections: Brian Masterman menu


Special Collections: Brian Masterman

By 2008, Old Goole historian and former shipyard worker, Brian Masterman, had completed his manuscript recording the history of boat and ship building in and around the port town of Goole, Yorkshire. It was to be called simply Goole Shipbuilding. Painstaking research by Brian over many years had resulted in a detailed account of the boat and shipbuilding companies which had come and gone since the port opened in 1826, the fluctuations in trade which had directly impacted so many of the local workers and their families and of course the hundreds of vessels produced over the years by the skilled Goole workforce.

It was Brian’s earnest desire to see Goole Shipbuilding in print, a task often easier said than done. It was Arthur Credland, then Chairman of East Yorkshire Local History Society who came up with the solution. Rather than publishing Brian’s manuscript as a whole, Arthur suggested an alternative option which was to have Goole Shipbuilding appear in the highly regarded Journal of the East Yorkshire Local History Society, The East Yorkshire Historian. It was to be published in four parts across the four annual editions commencing in 2008. We are told that Brian was absolutely thrilled by this proposal and the photograph of Brian, taken in 2011, proudly holding the four copies of the Journal tells its own story.

Brian Masterman passed away in 2022 leaving his extensive collection of photographs and documents in the care of Moorlands Community Charity and the volunteers of Yorkshire Waterways Heritage Society. His original manuscript was discovered and recognised for the immense value it offers modern local historians. The presence in the collection of Brian’s four editions of The East Yorkshire Historian inspired the idea of republishing the four articles on this Society’s website. In a chance meeting with Arthur Credland, now President of East Yorkshire Historical Society, at Hull Minster in May 2024 Arthur gave his blessing to that idea and you can now read the four articles for yourself. 

Brian Masterman Collection: Goole Shipbuilding Part 1.

Brian’s narrative is primarily about the main Goole shipyard, Goole Shipbuilding and Repairing Company. In this article, writing about the lesser known names in Goole shipbuilding between 1826 and 1902 he names eleven shipbuilding firms which had collectively produced over fifty vessels by the mid 1850s.  A steady progression in shipbuilding capacity and capability was seen over the next fifty years. The first seagoing iron screw cargo steamer was built at the port in 1875. By the 1890s, the industry had consolidated into just three companies building and repairing boats and ships at Goole. The collapse of Thomas Scott’s business in 1902 came as a great shock. Acquired by Messrs Craggs the new business would be called Goole Shipbuilding and Repairing Company. Operating at the Victoria Shipyard, Goole they launched their first ship into the Dutch River in June 1902 an event extensively reported at the time because it marked a major change of fortunes for shipbuilding at the port.  

Masterman, Brian. (2008) Goole Shipbuilding – the beginning. The East Yorkshire Historian. Vol 9. Pages 55 – 83.

Brian Masterman Collection: Goole Shipbuilding Part 2.

Titled Goole Shipyards (part two) this part of Brian’s account appeared in Volume 10 published in 2009. 

it documents the activities of Goole builders Craggs, Cottingham Brothers, T H Scarr of Howden Dyke and the Goole Shipbuilding and Repairing Company during the period from 1902 through to the end of the Great War in 1918. Towards the end of this period Goole Shipbuilding and Repairing Company moved to a new site in Old Goole, a move that was not without incident.

Masterman, Brian. (2009) Goole Shipyards (part two). The East Yorkshire Historian. Vol 10. Pages 41 – 73.

Brian Masterman Collection: Goole Shipbuilding Part 3.

Brian’s narrative covers the period 1919 to 1937, which proved to have been a very difficult time for all involved in shipbuilding in Goole. The Goole yards and their workers enjoyed something of a post war boom but only until November 1920 when the early effects of what would become a global economic recession began to be felt. Over the next fifteen years shipyard workers walked out amid numerous local disputes, national strikes were called by the coal miners and other trades and a shortage of orders for new vessels or repair contracts led to yard closures. The country experienced its first ever general strike in 1926. All this had caused considerable hardship for the families of the unemployed in Goole over that time and it would be mid 1935 before there were signs that orders were returning to a level which would keep shipyard workers fully employed.

Masterman, Brian. (2010) Goole Shipbuilding (Part III). The East Yorkshire Historian. Vol 11. Pages 75 – 102.

Brian Masterman Collection: Goole Shipbuilding Part 4.

After the depression years which had seen Goole’s shipyards and their workers struggling through a shortage of orders to keep them busy, this part of Brian’s narrative begins in 1937 with more positive news. The launch of a motor coaster, a type of vessel already built by Goole Shipbuilding and Repairing Company in small numbers, marked a milestone as she was for a local owner and was the first to be also registered in Goole. The impressive Bluebird, a motor yacht for the famous Sir Malcolm Campbell, was launched in 1938. During the wartime years shipyards throughout the country were kept busy and Goole’s were no exception. This bonanza of orders continued for some years after the war but it was not to last. Goole would see nationalisation and changes of ownership before the last ever vessel was launched in October 1987 ending Goole’s 161 years of shipbuilding industry.

Masterman, Brian. (2011) Goole Shipbuilding Part IV. The East Yorkshire Historian. Vol 12. Pages 27 – 55.

 Publication permission for copyright images

We acknowledge that copyright images are being shown for which no explicit permission to publish has been given to this Society. Many of the digital images shown had originally been produced with the knowledge and permission of the now defunct Yorkshire Waterways Museum from original photographs deposited there for public display.  Following the closure of that organisation in 2019 and the break up of their collection those original photographs have disappeared and have effectively been lost to the public.

Through an incredible stroke of good fortune digital copies of those images were donated to this Society in 2022 allowing our volunteers to finally achieve the wishes of those photographers and collectors who had made the original donations.

If you are the copyright holder and would like to contact the Society please use the form below.


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