In 2010 I undertook a project to identify soldiers in Goole Museum’s Photographic Collection. The project expanded upon its original objective to create an index of entries in the local Newspaper, the Goole Times, for the First World War. Whilst undertaking this research I came across several articles referring to the erection of Street Shrines (or Street Rolls of Honour) in the town during 1917. I had not heard of the type of memorial before but after a small amount of research I found that during the First World War they were a common form of memorial in several of Britain’s cities. Their erection within a small town such as Goole is rather rare, with few known comparisons.
A search through the local archives and local museum photographic collection resulted in no pictures. Several enquiries were made with Goole’s local historians which resulted in information about shrines erected in the town but not the actual street shrines (our previous research on the St Paul’s Shrines is thanks to this information). I therefore had a challenge to find out what happened to the street shrines.
The obvious solution would be to research using the Goole Times newspaper, which reported minute details of events within the town during the early 20th Century. After several weeks searching the years after the war and anniversary dates only one reference to the shrines was made. In 1919 a report was made to the only act of vandalism made to the shrines when flowers were stolen from one of them.
Several months later luck occurred when one of Goole’s local historians happened to see and copy a postcard of Pasture Road in the 1920s, and with much thanks realised it’s significance. The Post Card shows the only known image of a Goole Street Shrine. Given the size of Goole and the considerable research that has been made by Local Historians it is normally possible to research any topic or know where to find information, or know somebody who remembers an event or a person. After asking several locals I found that people could perhaps remember a shrine or a memorial or had heard of them but did not know when they were removed or any details. Therefore the shrines must have been removed probably before the Second World War.
In Hull much research has been made into Street Shrines and there is some evidence as to when individual shrines were removed. Some were made into permanent memorials and one of these survives in location and a second on an industrial estate. An original shrine survives in location, albeit on a new building and temporary removed for new building works. Many more were removed during slums clearances or were destroyed during the Second World War and many more have been lost through decay or vandalism. In the 1980s two were salvaged before their streets were demolished and are now in Hull Street Life Museum.
The difference between Hull and Goole is that Hull’s shrines were not erected as one but were erected singularly or in areas or by small groups and businesses. Goole’s shrines, with the exception of one, were erected as a result of the Church of England’s Men’s Society. Therefore the shrines had a religious element and the governance of a church authority and were part of a set. Therefore being religious articles it would have been unlikely that they were removed individually or destroyed and were most likely moved elsewhere during the 1920s or 1930s. Unfortunately further research in church and local archives did not provide further evidence of the shrines.
Recently whilst undertaking research on another topic luck struck again. Having spare credits on the Newspaper Archive website I undertook a search for War Shrines using all different tag words but with no results. I then searched for Old Goole and under a misspelt heading was an article referring to the proposed removal of the Goole War Shrines - ‘To Be Removed Failing Maintenance Promises’ in the [Hull] Daily Mail, dated 30th May 1930. A search in the Goole Times for the corresponding article provides the full details:
Searching through the articles in the following weeks no reply was published regarding the articles and it can only be assumed that the decision was made to remove the street shrines en masse in 1930. No references are made to storing the shrines and it is assumed that all were destroyed. The next stage of the research will be to trace minutes of the meeting and appeal for pictures of 1920s Goole.