Voices in the Coalshed: Tom Pudding
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Voices in the Coalshed: Tom Pudding

Are you picking up what I’m pudding down?

The tub boats that transported coal from the collieries of the South Yorkshire Coalfield to the port of Goole in East Yorkshire from 1863 to 1985 were called Tom Pudding boats!

Before the 1850s, tub boats had been used on canals by being pulled by a horse on the towpath but William Bartholomew, the chief engineer for the Aire and Calder Navigation Company, improved on this by devising and patenting a system of compartment barges linked together, forming a chain, which were then pulled by a steam tug.

The name derives from their resemblance to a string of black puddings, as can be seen from this photo from our collection!


Tom Pudding


The Tom Puddings were designed to pass under the hoist and, when full of coal, be lifted up and tipped over so the coal would drop into waiting ships.

In 1986, the Tom Puddings made their last run from the staithes at Doncaster to the Port of Goole, after which all coal began to be transported by road.

Perhaps you remember seeing these Tom Puddings passing by you? Or perhaps you worked with them yourself? We will be celebrating the tugs that pulled the Tom Puddings in the Makers Shed this week. Come along and learn about paddle power. https://www.ncm.org.uk/whats-on/makers-shed/


This week’s Voices in the Coalshed post was researched and written by volunteer Rafiq. If you would like to join Voices in the Coal Shed, please get in touch with voicesinthecoalshed@gmail.com