Parlington Hall :: The Estate :: The Canal Proposal

Eighteenth Century Transport

From time to time I like to reflect on how the Parlington Estate landscape looked in the eighteenth century, of course it would be even more interesting to consider it before that time but sadly little information has been uncovered to date which lends any opportunity to make any realistic projections; perhaps in the future I may be able to write on this. The landscape, like the climate, is an ever changing feature, for the most part we don't notice the subtleties month by month, but photographs separated by a few years can reveal the small incremental changes. Then of course there are the man made alterations, brought about by our civil engineering, we have examples in the Dark Arch and the railway line, and buildings such as the estate houses and other enclosing structures, usually impacting the landscape much less but still adding to the changing mix. If we look at the following maps and plans, starting with the John Ogilby map of 1753, then the 1770 Jeffreys Map, followed by the George Dixon plan of 1774, we get an idea of the eighteenth century, later maps from the ordnance survey of the 1840's and the accompanying map which was part of the estate sale particulars in 1938; fill in the blanks of the earlier maps, and show a comprehensive series of pathways running in every direction across the estate.

1753 John Ogilby Map

Each of the maps is a link to a larger scale pop-up image, where all five maps are presented in a series

Ogilby 1753 Map

The map shows the principal crossroads along the route of the Great North Road.

The above is the earliest map of the area that I have reviewed, the map reveals that Leeds was accessed from a roadway south of the church (St Ricarius) which is opposite the road to Sherbourn (modern spelling Sherburn), clearly this is Parlingon Lane, the road to Barwick in Elmet does not feature on the map, so it is reasonable to assume it was little more than a track at the time and not regarded as a roadway.

1770 Jeffreys Map

Jeffreys 1770 Map

A later map by Jeffreys in 1770 shown above again shows the road to Leeds opposite the Lotherton road south of St. Ricarius, the Aberford church. Missing and therefore probably not yet built are the various estate roads from Parlington. Further evidence of the estate layout in the last quarter of the eighteenth century can be seen in the plan drawn by George Dixon in 1774 for a proposed canal and waggon way, to transport, principally coal, and perhaps return with imported (i.e. outside the locale) goods from the terminal where the proposed canal connected to the river Wharfe, south of Tadcaster.

1774 George Dixon Canal Plan

George Dixon 1774 Canal Plan

By the 1840's the estate roads are very clear, the whole area is cris-crossed with roadways. Similarly on the later map from the 1938 sale particulars, below the 1840 map, the estate roadways can be clearly identified.

1840's Ordnance Survey

Ordnance 1840 Map

The above map from the 1840's shows in greater detail how the estate had developed, and the extensive roadways across the estate are clearly visible.

The June 1st 1938 Sale particulars map

Sale Particular of 1938 Map

Therefore it is reasonable to conclude that the main development of the estate occurred from the last quarter of the eighteenth century through until the end of the nineteenth century, and the twentieth century was witness to the gradual disintegration of of it all.

Returning to the original theme of this article, and with the observations made here above, we can make some assessments about how the estate worked, from a transport, and communications perspective in the latter part of the eighteenth century.

The driving force was clearly the need to increase the radius at which Sir Thomas Gascoigne could sell his coal, hence the commission to George Dixon to survey and design a canal transport system from his Garforth and Sturton collieries to the river Wharfe, south of Tadcaster. The canal proposition and the Jeffreys map, just a few years apart provide some interesting insights into the estate. In particular the combined features of each plan allow me to draw a mental picture of the area.

Traffic, albeit at the slow pace of the time, the era of the great coaching trips was just beginning, would have travelled north - south along the Great North Road, the Roman Ridge on Jeffreys plan; and to reach Leeds from Aberford the route was clearly Parlington Lane. Whether this also was a route for a commercial coach (four horse team and carriage) to Leeds is not known; certainly at this time the York - Leeds turnpike, the present A64 was a main thoroughfare. From the two plans it seems that the Lane was the access to the main entrance to Parlington, and so would have carried the Gascoignes' back and forth on their business over this lane. Other roadways over the estate do not feature except the tree straddled ancient passageway which tracks up the hill across the Deer Park and eventually connects to Wakefield Lodge, this roadway precedes the drive that later became one of the main entrances from the lodges at Hook Moor down to the Light Arch, over Parlington Lane and sweeping round to the left to the Hall. Thus we have two access routes to the hall, one along Parlington Lane and and on towards the road between Barwick and Garforth, near the modern day golf course, and a second twisting through the gnarled low trees of the ancient pathway up to the Wakefield lodge. Can we assume the route which was later to become the main access up the long driveway to the Triumphal Arch and then on to the Hall did not exist? I think we can, there was no lodge house associated with this route, Pike Lodge seems more fitting as a watch point for the Cock Beck below; poaching being a serious affair. The lodge house, inside the estate boundary walls, was not built until much later in the nineteenth century.

Thus we have a roadway, Parlington Lane, its condition not unlike the present state of surfacing, which allowed access to the Hall. At that time it is also reasonable to consider that the lodge near to Aberford was not in existence, nor the high retaining wall along the north side.

Light Arch

Interestingly the road, (Parlington Lane on the Jeffreys 1770 map) shows buildings on each side of the road, broadly from the Light Arch to the Dark Arch, this being the old village of Parlington, which from this evidence must have been cleared by Sir Thomas Gascoigne, towards the end of the eighteenth century. The village does not feature on the proposed plan for a canal by George Dixon in 1774, so is it reasonable to contend that the village is not shown because it had to go to suit the plans that Sir Thomas had for the estate?

Again looking at the canal concept it is clear that to achieve the waterway between the Garforth and Sturton collieries and the ongoing route to Tadcaster it would be necessary to introduce a few waggon ways to bridge the terrain along the route, a cheaper alternative to providing locks to change the level. The canal follows almost identically the 200ft contour line shown on later ordnance survey maps, hence its very circuitous route. But also and worth noting it would have been low enough in the general terrain to obtain some of the run off from rainfall, to keep the canal suitably topped up! The canal is interrupted near Aberford and a waggon way shown to the lower elevation of the north side of the Cock Beck. This change of transport type is almost on the spot of the lodge on Parlington Lane, could this be a reason for the location of the lodge, as a sentry point, built in anticipation of the proposed canal. Otherwise you might expect it to be nearer the Aberford junction.

Detailed View of Parlington Hall from Dixon's Plan

Moreover, again considering the canal scheme, Parlington Lane had, south of the Hall a building, another lodge, presumably, at its entrance. Today and since 1813 or thereabouts this location has changed considerably with the introduction of the Dark Arch, by Richard Oliver Gascoigne. So that property like the village of Parlington is lost for ever! The roadway was lowered to accommodate the tunnel, so all traces of the earlier lodge must have been erased, except perhaps on the Hall side of the retaining wall, where the foundations may still exist under the fill that was introduced to re-level the garden.

We know that the canal was not built, and that idea was superseded by a waggon way from Garforth, the so called Fly line to Aberford, which eventually came to fruition but not until after the 1820's, this was later to become the railway, initially horse powered and after 1870 by steam locomotives. During the period (1774-1810), other projects were to be realised by Sir Thomas:

The Gardens House
Extensions to Parlington
Home Farm
The Stallion Pens
Deer Shelter in the Park
The Triumphal Arch
The driveway, through the Arch and to Cattle Lane along with entrance walls and gates
The Light Arch
The Lodges at Hook Moor and Driveway to the Hall over the Light Arch

Concluding it is reasonable to consider that with all the foregoing projects in hand during the latter part of the eighteenth century, notwithstanding external projects at Cold Hill, another model Farm, and also the untimely death of Sir Thomas's wife in 1786, a month after the birth of their only son Tom. The canal project would have been extremely expensive and taken a considerable time to complete and may have been a project too far!

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