Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Bennett steamship company of Goole

After reading my post about the Bennett family of Goole Harvey Tripp, editor of The Norseman, the journal of the Boothferry Family and Local History group,  sent me the following interesting piece.

Goole Times, 19th December 1975

END OF 100-YEAR-OLD SHIPPING LINE

On Friday one of Goole's landmarks disappeared - the sign on the offices in Stanhope Street which for almost 50 years proclaimed proudly that here were the offices of the Bennett Steamship Company.
The removal of the sign - one of the 'patent' signs made by Gunnill of Goole - coincided with the disappearance of the company as a separate entity after a century of trading from Goole. From the beginning of the month the Bennett Steamship Co. Ltd became part of P & O Ferries (General European).

John Bennett's Red Cross Line of steamers was founded in September 1875 and for 100 years the company has operated a Goole to Boulogne service. Bennett was a Goole farmer who imported fruit, vegetables and potatoes from Boulogne, using chartered ships. Outward cargoes were of coal, and Bennett soon raised sufficient capital to buy his own ships.

His original idea was to establish a regular cargo and parcels' service between Goole, Calais and Ostend but after initial setbacks a regular Goole to Boulogne service was established, largely to replace the service by the General Steam Navigation which was being discontinued. Even today the Goole to Boulogne service still sails weekly. The 528 ton Petrel regularly carries 15 000 to 18 000 cases of whisky for the French market.

The red cross of the Bennett steamship line was soon established and well- known both in this country and in France, but in 1922 its use caused trouble with the War Office, which claimed that the funnel marking of a red cross on a broad white band infringed the Geneva Convention.

The managing director of the shipping line, John Bentley Bennett, son of the founder, replied that the red cross was a well-known and valuable trade mark, and had sentimental value from its associations.
The War Office was not impressed and stated that "the continued use of the red cross emblem on the flags and funnels of your ships .......... could not be reconciled with the international obligations entered into by His Majesty's government."

Help was sought from Goole Chamber of Commerce and Shipping and from Goole's M.P., Captain T. E. Sotheron-Estcourt, who asked the finance secretary to the War Office to intervene.
It was all to no avail and in April 1933 Bennett was given two years in which to remove the red cross from the ships and house flags. A compromise was, in fact, reached and the house flag was redesigned to show a red flag on a blue background with a white border.

During the Second World War the three Bennett Steamship Co.'s vessels, Corea, Sparta and Hydra, carried munitions to France and food supplies to the population of Boulogne. The first loss was the Corea,  which was blown apart by a mine off Harwich on 7th December1939. Six of the crew were lost in addition to the master, Captain Harry Needham.

Sparta also struck a mine in the English Channel in March 1941 and sank. She was originally the Petone and came to Bennett's from New Zealand. The third vessel, Hydra, was a lighter and was sold for scrap after the war.

John Bentley Bennett died in 1946 and the original family name of  the company disappeared when the concern was taken over by General Steam Navigation, restoring the Goole to Boulogne service they discontinued 45 years earlier. General Steam Navigation in its turn was acquired by P & O lines.

At the height of the Goole to Boulogne trade - between the wars - Bennett's had a staff of almost 400 in Boulogne and nearly as many in this country. Today the service is run by a handful of staff at each end, headed by the general manager, Mr Douglas Longhorn, who has been with the company in Goole for 25 years.

Cargoes handled by the company in its century of trading have varied enormously. The first consignment for Goole 100 years ago included seven cases of silks from Lyons, and other cargoes included fruit, flowers and vegetables, and thousands of wicker baskets shipped direct to London and northern markets between the wars.

A quick turn-round was the secret of Bennett's success and in 1908, on the day before the Bank Holiday, 67 000 packages of vegetables were loaded on to the three ships which left between 3 p.m. and midnight to catch the Covent Garden market the next morning.

At one time the line carried cars, and in 1926 Bennett steamers crossed the Channel 534 times to carry 8 000 Citro├źn and Renault cars, mostly for use as London taxis. Recently cargoes have included raw wool, ores for smelting, steel strip and whisky, of which Bennett's carry 60% of France's importation.
Now the company has disappeared, bringing to an end one of the port's oldest shipping lines and a link with the 19th century entrepreneurs who built up Goole's prosperity.

Bank Chambers, Goole showing the Bennett sign mentioned above


Visitors from Seattle

It is definitely now autumn. The leaves are turning and coming off in the wind. And it is conker time. Although we no longer string them on a bootlace to play with I still could not resist picking up a pocketful this morning as I walked Molly and putting them in a small bowl on the kitchen table. I know they will soon lose their brown shininess but for the moment they are attractive to look at.

I had a lovely time last week showing Tammy and her husband who are from near Seattle USA around Howden. Her great grandfather Arthur  Weatherill was born in Howden in 1862 and later emigrated to the USA. Arthur was the son of a Methodist minister so I could take Tammy to exactly where Arthur was born in Hailgate and also show her the site of the old Methodist chapel where her great great grandfather would have preached. I really enjoy meeting the people with whom I have been communicating over e mail. E mails are great but nothing beats a face to face contact. And they loved Howden!


Inside the Howden Wesleyan chapel

I spend a lot of time looking up things on the British Newspaper archive site. It can tho' be very distracting as you look up one topic and then find the search has thrown up several other articles to read.

This is how I came across this charming description of Howden from July 1891 which appeared in the Hull Daily Mail. I have edited it slightly but, like my American visitors, the author was impressed by his visit to Howden over a hundred years ago. I must admit to being impressed myself by the eloquence of his prose.



FLOWERS AND BELFRY BELLS. AN AFTERNOON IN HOWDENSHIRE. 

 I travelled 20 odd miles by the Hull and Barnsley Railway yesterday, and discovered a new county - by no means a fruitless afternoon's work.

After the manner of Gulliver, I found a county (as he did a country) which is "not on the map," and of which not one Englishman in 50,000 is aware. And, oddly enough, I only set out to make acquaintance with a somnolent country town and a flower show. But I unearthed, I have said a "county" and one of the handsomest perpendicular parish churchcs in England.

 Oh! no! I do not claim to be the pioneer of unknown land ! It has all been "discovered" long since, no doubt. Still I mean to make it more widely known, and if possible more generally exploited. Let me present to you, then, Howdenshire and the Church of St. Peter! The district is veritably known as "Howdenshire." l am not making any play upon words. And it is  the capital—Howden —where this beautiful ecclesiastical edifice is to seen.

WHAT THE BELLS OF ST. PETER'S SAY !

'' Come and see Howden ! Come—and—see— Howden! " Thus sing the bells in the tall church tower! " Here —Is —a Flower—Land! Here—ls —a—Flower —Land !
Thus do they vary their refrain! I hie thither as quickly as I can over the tortuous cobbles of the corkscrew streets. Would that the day were finer ! It has been raining, though is not doing so now, being early afternoon, and it means to rain again (though happily I do not know it or I should flee away home) with an overwhelming arrogance which forbids even tearful entreaty. However, just now it is fine, with faint gleams streaming from storm-laden clouds. So I go at once to the Church, being devout, with my eagle eye soaring in aspiration to the summit of the said Church tower.

" EXCELSIOR !" AND THE VIEW !

 The streets are picturesque and pretty, like all village highways in the broad county, and the houses are demure with age, as they present their faces straight to the footpaths and their backs to the greenest of old time gardens, like folk of frosty exterior with genial hearts. The soft stately splendour of the old church rises benignly before us. Its grey buttresses and sad hued walls, its weather-chipped pinnacles and crumbling niche-figures, speak of the never ceasing war between the elements and the stone.

Founded in 1267, the church has stood its ground well, but it is going, vanishing though imperceptibly, and' some of it has already been ravaged to the state of ruin by time. Witness the once splendid Choir and dainty-lined Chapter House. And above all soars the splendid tower, with its deep, perpendicular transoms —the windows of its soul !
Breathless with mounting the 140 odd steps of the stair turret  I gain  the leads, and gaze down from and beyond the embattled parapet. There is a magnificent view. Far across the smiling land of the great Plain of York one's eyes flit until Selby is sighted, and Ebor City itself is almost discerned. Many miles to the east the Wolds undulate in one long ridge, hiding Scarborough, Bridlington, and the whole of the eastern littoral. In the west earth and sky seem to meet in a diffusion of pale sungleam. Southward the Lincolnshire hills gleam out against a bank of cloud ! Lo, I will not tear the veil from that view by further words.

"I WOULD NOT PLUCK THE ROSE BUT, BEING PLUCKED, WOULD WEAR IT !

 In the tents of the show ground I see some of the finest blooms out of London —that city which reveres the best flowers. The cut roses are ideals of the English floral emblem. The season is late, and this suits the roses of Howdenshire. What could be more chastely beautiful than this wax-like Mereille de Lyon, more rich and glowing than that Marie Van Houtt ? What more delicious than the old time Gloire de Dijon, more tender than the cream-yellowed and blissful folds of the Marechal Neil.

Dahlias, too, are remarkably good, considering the season, but I do not care for dahlias. They look best, though, in serried ranks on their stands where they are now. I pass the floral epergnes, which demonstrate emphatically what can be done with varied grasses, a few poppies and stocks, common roses, and a frond or two of exotic ferns. Bridal bouquets bore out the same view as to modest means combined with taste and artistic fingers. What strikes me most is the excellence of the amateurs' exhibits. Their cut roses are not quite so good those of the professional growers, but their dahlias and some other blooms are every bit equal.

MORE MODEST GROWTHS. 

Vegetables make a brave, bright show; the brilliance of the tomatoes, the florid tones of beet and shalot, the greens of peas, cabbages, and spring onions, and the browns of the humble potato, setting out in respective trays quite pleasantly, with a suggestion to the substantial accompaniments which they obtain at the prandial board. Mr Lynch, head gardener of Carlton Towers —Lord Beaumont's place—assures that he has not seen a better display of vegetable produce out of London. 



Sunday, 10 September 2017

Bennett family of Goole

It's Sunday morning and September but I think we are a long way from an Indian summer. I had hoped to be outside this afternoon picking apples and damsons but it is blowing, rainy and cold outside.

But I am looking forward to starting teaching my local history classes this week in Howden and Goole. Tomorrow is the History of Howden and area at 1.30pm in the Town Council offices where we shall begin by looking at the history of local railways. Thursday morning is the History of Goole at 10am in the Ilkeston Ave community centre. I have been working as a tutor for the WEA for many years now and always enjoy meeting new faces and making new friends.

http://www.wea.org.uk/yorkshumber

But as ever I am also busy with local history research. I have been looking at the history of the Bennett family of Goole. John Bennett, originally from Adlingfleet, founded the Bennett Steam shipping company of Goole and lived at Grove House in Old Goole. He began by transporting cargoes of potatoes but soon expanded to running a shipping company and owning several ships.

But as well as his shipping interests he also played a prominent part in the growth of the town.  He was involved with the local government of Goole and was  too a canny entrepreneur.
For example in 1875 he bought the land now around the Market Hall and Alexandra St, had it laid out with streets and sewers and then sold it to anyone who wanted to develop it. It was called Bennett's Town.




His son, Herbert Thomas Bennett, lived at Old Potter Grange. He married Mary Taylor whose father John was also a prominent  in Goole, originally arriving in the town from Liverpool where he worked for the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company. He was sent to Goole  at a day's notice as what we today would call a trouble shooter when the firm of Watson Cunliffe and Co who ran many of the Goole steamships went bankrupt in 1865.

The history of the Bennett and Taylor families is in many ways a microcosm the history of the port and town of Goole. Perhaps Goole should have a Bennett Street!

This is the funeral report from February 1904

FUNERAL OF MR BENNETT, GOOLE

 Amidst many manifestations of regret, the remains of the late John Bennett, Grove House, Old Goole head of the firm of the Bennett line steamships, Hull, London, and Boulogne, and a well known agriculturist, were laid rest in the ancient and picturesque churchyard of Whitgift, about seven miles from Goole. near the village of Adlingfleet, the birthplace of the deceased.

Close by runs the river, along which ply the steamers that trade with the Ouse port, and along which the deceased has times without number passed in journey to and from the continent. It may be the late Mr Bennett selected that quiet spot partly for this reason. Whitgift has been the family burial ground of the Bennetts for many years past.

The time fixed for leaving Grove House was one o'clock. and one of the largest funeral processions seen Goole for many years past was formed. The hearse, with numerous floral tributes, sent bv sympathising friends from all round the country side, from Boulogne, from London, and other distant places with which the deceased had business and friendly connection, from the various staffs, from the various local public bodies, and stores other acquaintances, was followed by the mourning coaches, numerous private coaches, carriages, traps, etc.

In addition there was a large concourse of townspeople foot, including members of the various public bodies, magistrates, shipowners, and others connected with shipping, friends from Boulogne, London, Hull, and many other places, members of the various staffs, workpeople, and servants, captains. mates. engineers, sailors and firemen of the Bennett Company—all work having ceased for the day— and those of other steamers in port and others. The cortege extended a considerable distance. Those on foot followed from Grove House to Earnshaw's drain, the extent of the Goole urban boundary.

Here they joined the Goole passenger steamer Empress, which the Goole and Hull Steam Packet Company had placed their disposal free of charge. They were taken down the river to Whitgift jetty, where they were landed, and thence walked to the church, a distance of about quarter a mile, there again joining the funeral procession. Meantime the cortege itself passed along through Swinefleet, where drawn blinds showed signs of respect to one who was personally known to the villagers. The same respect was manifested the villagers of Reedness and Whitgilt, and at each place the procession augmented farmers, villagers, and others from the extensive district of Marshland. The service in the church was conducted the Vicar Goole and Rural of Snaith (Rev Canon Carr M.A.), who was assisted by other clergy. The church was able to accommodate but a small number present, but the scene at the graveside was such one that has not been witnessed for years.

Grove House in Old Goole, now demolished

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