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West Riding
High Street at Swinefleet.jpg
Swinefleet High Street
Grid reference: SE770220
Location: 53°41’23"N, 0°50’2"W
Population: 787  (2011[1])
Post town: Goole
Postcode: DN14
Dialling code: 01405
Local Government
Council: East Riding of Yorkshire
Brigg and Goole

Swinefleet is a village and civil parish in the West Riding of Yorkshire. It is situated approximately two miles south-east of the town of Goole on the A161 road from Goole to Crowle. It lies on the south bank of the River Ouse, which forms the border with the East Riding. According to the 2011 UK census, Swinefleet parish had a population of 787,[1] an increase on the 2001 UK census figure of 748.[2] The main centre of population is at the extreme north of the parish, close to the River Ouse. The southern part of the parish is part of Swinefleet and Reedness Moors, and is characterised by drainage ditches and a few farm buildings.[3]

A local bus company, known as Sweyne Coaches is based in Swinefleet. They used to run public services between Scunthorpe and Goole but now mostly run private-hire services.[4] It is also home to the Swinefleet Peat Works, which is now derelict.


The civil parish of Swinefleet is bordered to the north by the River Ouse. Its western edge follows the course of the Swinefleet Warping Drain, beyond which is the civil parish of Goole Fields. To the east is Reedness. The southern edge of the parish is bordered by Crowle and Ealand.[5]


The civil parish of Swinefleet originates as the township of the ancient parish of Whitgift, the western boundary of which is formed by Swinefleet Warping Drain. This was authorised by an Act of Parliament obtained by Ralph Creyke and T.H.S. Sotheron, and parts of it were completed by 1821. Warping was a process by which silt-rich river water was allowed to flood land which was of poor quality. The silt would be deposited on the surface, and over a period of time, would build up to create soils which could support agriculture. The two men succeeded in improving a large area of land over the next 40 years. It was the most successful of several plans to improve Thorne and Hatfield Moors by warping, as Makin Durham succeeded in creating Durham's Warping Drain to the west of the moors, but failed to reclaim much land, and the Thorne Moor Improvement Company's scheme failed when the Great Northern Railway Company abandoned their planned line from Gainsborough to Doncaster via Thorne, which would have enabled agricultural produce from the reclaimed land to be taken to market.[6]

Peat milling

Near the southern edge of the parish, about three miles south of the population centre, was Swinefleet Peat Works. The first mill at this location was established by Bennett's Moss Peat Company in 1886, and was called Marshland Works. Bennett's employed 40 men to harvest the peat, which was removed from the moors in wagons pulled by horses, and taken to the mill, where it was milled and bagged into bales. Foster Wilson was employed to transport the bales by horse and dray to Swinefleet Clough, where there was a wharf on the River Ouse. Bennett's then built a 3ft-7in-gauge tramway, which ran from the mill to the Swinefleet Warping Drain, and then along the eastern bank of the drain to the Clough. Facilities at the Clough included an unloading shed, a warehouse and several other buildings. Most of the bales were exported by barge from the wharf, but some of the peat was sold locally, being delivered by horse and dray.[7]

The steam locomotive which worked on the tramway was built by Webster, Jackson and Co. who were based in Goole. The Goole Times newspaper carried a report on 7 June 1895 of a visit to the line by the Yorkshire Naturalists' Union. It commented that the visitors had been transported to the works on flat wagons, with their legs dangling over the sides, and although the train reached their destination fairly quickly, several were somewhat shaken by the experience. Bennett's became bankrupt in 1891, although they continued to trade until they were taken over by the Goole Moss Litter Company in 1893. The new company became part of the British Peat Moss Litter Company in 1896, an amalgamation of most of the peat companies working on Thorne and Hatfield Moors.[7]

It is not known exactly when the tramway ceased to operate, but the Axholme Joint Railway, which crossed the parish, would have required a level crossing with it, and the North Eastern Railway, one of the promoters, met with the British Peat Moss Litter Company to offer compensation if they would waive their rights to a level crossing. The Axholme Joint Railway opened in 1903, and included a siding which served Swinefleet Peat Works. The tramway locomotive was offered for sale in 1901, but is thought to have been scrapped on site, as no purchaser was found.[7] The works was connected to the moors by a network of 3ft-gauge tramways, which were worked by horses until the 1950s and then by diesel locomotives.[8] The mill was closed in July 2000, after 114 years of operation,[9] although stockpiled peat continued to be removed from the moors until 2005, but was taken to Hatfield Works for processing.


Reedness Junction, where the Fockerby branch of the Axholme Joint Railway left the main line to Epworth, was situated within the parish, despite its name, while Swinefleet Peat Works was actually in the adjacent parish of Reedness, although the tramway to the moors passed through Swinefleet.[10] The line to the west of Reedness Junction, and the Fockerby Branch, the northernmost line of the two to the east, were built by the Goole and Marshland Light Railway.[11] The line to the south, which ran to Crowle North, Epworth and Haxey Junction was partially built by the Isle of Axholme Light Railway, but both were taken over by the Axholme Joint Railway in January 1903.[12] The railway was opened for passengers on 10 August 1903, as far south as Crowle, with the final section being completed and opened in early 1905.[13] Passenger services were withdrawn in 1933, and the railway was closed in 1965.[14]

The railway company held a heated debate in 1906, when Colonel Thompson requested permission for a group of about 16 female potato pickers to be allowed to walk through Reedness Goods Yard, and then cross over Swinefleet Warping Drain, on the western boundary of the parish, by walking along the main line of the railway. His request was to reduce the distance that the ladies had to walk to work each day, and was granted, although the Colonel had to indemnify the railway against claims if any of them were involved in an accident while following this route.[15]


  • Booth, Adrian (1998). The Peat Railways of Thorne and Hatfield Moors. Industrial Railway Society. ISBN 978-1-90155604-9. 
  • Judge, C.W. (1994). The Axholme Joint Railway. Oakwood Press. ISBN 978-0-85361-441-8. 
  • Limbert, Martin; Roworth, Peter C. (2009). Mechanised Peat Winning and Transportation on Thorne Moors (2nd ed.). Thorne & Hatfield Moors Conservation Forum. 
  • Gazetteer — A–Z of Towns Villages and Hamlets. East Riding of Yorkshire Council. 2006. p. 10. 



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