Captain E.P. Atkinson
Article published by the Goole Action Group
Edward Peter Atkinson attended school at Castleford where he married the former Miss Sarah Baldwin of Wakefield at the Congregational Chapel. The couple were staunch Congregationalists all their lives, worshipping at Christ Church, Goole after the building was erected c.1875.
Soon after the birth of their second son in 1871, he brought his wife and family to Goole aboard his two-masted sailing brig the "Mary Moore", built at Liverpool in 1869. The children were born while their parents were journeying - the older boy in Manchester, the younger in Cheshire. Arriving in Goole, they found a house on Don Side (Vermuyden Terrace), next door to Leonard Eckles, a retired mariner, and his wife. This was obviously their land base between sailings because when the 1871 census was taken, Mr. Eckles reported that the tenants next door had gone to Thorne.
Leonard Eckles served his marine apprenticeship on brigs, trading down the Dutch River from Thorne before Goole became a sea-port in 1826. As Mr. Eckles was a member of the Goole branch of The Yorkshire Shipowners' Mutual Protection Association, it may well have been he who introduced Captain Atkinson to Israel Jackson, the branch secretary and the local surveyor for Lloyds insurers.
Israel Jackson had been in Goole since 1855, coming from Boston on the Wash to start up in business as a watchmaker and jeweller at Barge dock-side. Then he took an interest in shipping and acquired a fleet of small coasting schooners, buying the "Mary Moore" in 1871, when Captain Atkinson joined Goole Steam Shipping Company Limited.
p.s "Laurel" - former Gun-Runner?
Having spent his summers sailing his father's billy boy, at the age of 13 Atkinson began an apprenticeship in sailing ships, doing his deep sea time on the East Indies route. He was second officer aboard the Thalatta, when it dismasted in the Indian Ocean and the crew reached Mauritius under a jury rig. At the age of 29 he came to Goole and in an age of declining sail he made the change to steamers. After acting as Mate for a few months, Captain Atkinson's first command was the ss. W. S. Stanhope, a former Clyde-built paddle steamer known as the "Laurel" that was believed to have been a gun-runner during the American Civil War. Acquired by Goole Steam Shipping and re-named in honour of one of the first company directors when Goole Steam Shipping Co. Ltd. formed in 1864 (Walter S. Stanhope Esquire being a coal owner, and a proprietor of the Aire & Calder Navigation, of Cannon Hall, Barnsley). This ship had been lengthened to provide cargo space amidships and was converted to a stern propelled steamer with new boiler and engine in 1870.
Nearly Ninety Years in Marshfield Road
Captain Atkinson and his wife had four children in 1881 - their eldest sons - Edward Harold and Alfred W. were 12 and 9 and two daughters -Lilian aged 8 and Hilda Gertrude, 4 years. The children's aunt Phoebe Baldwin, Mrs. Atkinson's sister, came to Goole to act as house-keeper and the family also had a 13 year-old nursemaid. To accommodate the household, the Atkinsons had moved to a house in Marshfield Road (newly built c.1875), where the family remained until 1960. Miss Lilian Atkinson was the last remaining member to leave there, shortly before she died on 12 December 1960 two weeks after her 88th birthday, at "Mayfleet" on Hook Road.
Spanish Fruit Wars
Captain Atkinson joined the Goole-based Humber Steam Shipping Company, formed in 1875 by John Taylor. Taylor was sent to Goole by his employers, the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Co. In 1866/7 he joined Goole Steam Shipping as their traffic manager until his resignation in 1873, when he went into partnership with Messrs. Shaw, Walker, and Seed, fruit brokers. Messrs. Shaw, Walker and Seed had previously done business with Goole Steam Shipping Co., paying freight charges of £2000 yearly in 1872. When J. B. Hayes, the Company Secretary, reported "Sunshiny profits" of 26% to the 8th Annual General Meeting of GSS as being the "Fruits of Economy", Messrs. Shaw Walker & partners (who were shareholders) felt their investment would make a better return if they shipped freight under their own steam.
Benjamin Shaw described himself as a "Spanish Merchant", and he was regarded as King of the Fruit Trade! Shaw hailed from Cleckheaton in the West Riding, but he and his brother Henry had moved from Hull to Goole before 1862, when Benjamin married Margaret Billington of Goole and they made their home in South Street, close to Barge dock-side. The two brothers soon took up residence at Cowick Hall, the ancestral home of the Viscounts Downe, shortly before Henry Shaw's death in 1871.
Time was of the essence in the fruit trade, with a fast sea voyage and immediate unloading and dispatch of goods from the port on arrival at Goole to ensure potatoes, cherries and cucumbers etc. reached the wholesalers in excellent condition. When the master of the screw steamer "Romeo" fell ill John Taylor prevailed upon the services of the mate serving Goole Steam Shipping's steamer "Walter Stanhope", while that vessel was undergoing repair. Henry Robarth was serving his notice with Goole Steam Shipping prior to joining Messrs. Shaw, Walker, Taylor & Seed but Taylor's action (and no doubt his own position with Goole Steam Shipping prior to resigning as their Traffic Manager) led to rivalry between himself J. B. Hayes, his late colleague at GSS, resulting in their dispute reaching the Magistrates Court. Wisely, the case was dismissed and each side ordered to pay its own costs. Wounded egos were soothed by the Bench referring to Goole Steam Shipping man's "broad-shouldered philanthropy" that would cause him to pay the mate's lost wages and Taylor was censured in equally mild terms in that competition "might be wholesome, but he should have exercised common courtesy".
Captain Atkinson became master of the Humber Steam Shipping's "Leona" and proved his seamanship when he made twenty-three crossings of the notorious Bay of Biscay over one winter, bringing Spanish oranges from the Azores. The "Leona" was built in 1884 as the first steel screw steamer for Humber Steamship Co. Her sister ship the "Norma" built in 1877 also carried fruit under Captain Atkinson for Shaw Walker.
- "Romeo" registered at Goole 1873 - owners: John Seed, Goole; John Taylor, Goole; Bemjamin Shaw, Cowick Park; amd Matthew Samuel Taylor, Wakefield. Master: - Richard Schofield. (Index Goole Registered Vessels 1828 April - 1894 August - transcribed by Ron Gosney, Knottingley and illustrated by Brian Masterman, Old Goole)
This company was founded by Alexander Meek in 1873, to carry Yorkshire coal to a rapidly-industrialising Germany. Continuing the coal trade out of Goole that William West began c.1839 with billy boys sailing to London, two of Meek's early vessels were the steamers "Whitwood" and "Dinnington", named after the West Yorkshire collieries owned by Henry Briggs & Co. of Castleford who were represented at Goole by Meek, their local agent. Yorkshire Coal gained a reputation for the high quality of its vessels, specially commissioned to withstand winter ice-flows in the river Elbe on the run to Hamburg and into the Baltic, as well as the high standards of its master mariners.
John Taylor was present when the "Frankfurt" was launched at Hull in 1888, its holds and hatches arranged for the swift loading of coal, and Captain Atkinson's deep sea ticket made him supremely well-qualified to take command of her winter voyages beyond the Elbe/Brest limits.
Meek had gained a reputation as a "vital spark" but his death in 1894 at the age of 52 led to his Yorkshire Coal steamers and those of John Taylor's Humber Steam Shipping Co. being amalgamated with Goole Steam Shipping's fleet (John Taylor taking a seat on the board of directors).
Goole Steam Shipping
Captain Atkinson and the "Frankfurt" returned to his old employers, where he'd begun his steam-shipping career in 1871 as a young man aged 30. In 1903, he retired from active seafaring shortly before Goole Steam Shipping was bought out by the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Co. in 1905, returning a good profit to shareholders in the Goole company,
In 1864, after being "wired for" at a moment's notice, it had been John Taylor's job to save the railway company's flow of foreign trade through Goole. He arrived from Liverpool the following day, little realising that he would remain to the end of his life, having achieved his aims several times over before his death in 1911.
In the early days of Goole's development an individual's personal stock was distinguished by "their lights". It was undoubtedly a measure of Captain Atkinson's character that he couldn't settle down to life ashore without some involvment with the sea. He bought the steamer "Ralph Creyke" in 1908 and commenced his own shipping line - the Ouse Shipping Company Ltd.