Ships and their trade routes were vital to the business of the L&Y. As the only major railway to serve both the Irish and North Seas it had the opportunity to dominate Irish and Continental traffic and it grasped it firmly.
Liverpool was a major source of general traffic whereas Fleetwood, purpose built from 1840, was the port for northern Irish passenger traffic and fish.
Goole, already a port on the east coast, was reached in 1848 and the L&Y purchased the Goole Steam Shipping Co. in 1904 operating regular passenger and cargo services to Denmark, Germany, Holland, Belgium and France. With 28 ships it was the largest fleet of any British railway.
An advert for the L&Y’s East Coast Shipping Fleet