Parlington Hall :: The Estate :: Light Arch

The Bridge which spans Parlington Lane

The so called Light Arch presumably takes its name in contrast to the tunnel lying some distance to the west on Parlington Lane, which is locally called The Dark Arch, the road bridge was built to take traffic from the Hook Moor entrance on the Old Great North Road [Formally the A1, itself now superceded by the By-Pass which runs to the east of Aberford.]

The estate road runs from the old hall in a sweeping crescent heading to the east and crosses Parlington Lane at around the position of the site of the lost village of Parlington. The bridge pre-dates the Dark Arch by perhaps 20-30 years, whereas on the earlier site I had suggested it might be of a similar age. However it was not featured in the canal and waggonway scheme drawn up for Sir Thomas Gascoigne by the engineer George Dixon in 1774, and as it would have had a significant impact on the construction of the canal it is safe to assume it did not exist. The old estate road which tracked the edge of the Deer Park, long since disused, was taken into consideration as can be seen by the V shaped indent on the line of the canal south east of the hall, so that level of detail clearly indicates that had the road over the Light Arch existed it would have been shown on the plan.

1774 George Dixon Canal Plan

George Dixon 1774 Canal Plan

Parlington Village

Considering Parlington village in the light of the proposed canal and the road over the Light Arch it seems reasonable to conclude these changes along with the considerable areas set aside for rearing race horses, alongside Parlington Lane, were the main drivers which occasioned the removal of the settlement.

The Roadway and the Hook Moor Lodges

The roadway over the Light Arch as noted in the first paragraph has two lodges at its entrance to the estate, these are attributed to the famous York Architect, John Carr (1723-1807). Assuming that Carr was indeed the architect of the lodges, we can speculate that the construction of the lodges and the bridge could have been around 1775-80, and it was perhaps he who designed the Ligh Arch, since the Lodges and roadway would have formed one project. Extending the logic further; was the roadway from Hook Moor designed to be the new main entrance to Parlington Hall, thus dispensing with the access from Parlington Lane, and laying the way for the later Dark Arch to hide the coal traffic from Garforth to Aberford which passed along the lane? Although not executed until after Sir Thomas died, it was commenced within two years, so was probably a project familiar to him, but undertaken by his successor Richard Oliver.

Dual Use of the Light Arch

Although built many years before the railway line the bridge was used for both rail and road traffic, that is horse drawn for both modes of transport, in the period until the line was mechanised in 1870. Thereafter to accommodate the steam trains the bridge arch was lifted by adding a new course of stonework beneath the springer course, identified in the picture below by the red outlines.

The arch must have been dismantled, rendering the roadway above unusable, the new stones added, which may have been brought to the location by the new steam train! Or at least the rail track would have enabled them to use it for transport powered by a horse, this may be the reason that the stones are three times the depth of the other courses in the bridge. It is easy to imagine a rail mounted derrick with men using ropes and pulleys to raise the stones to the required height. Thereafter a timber formwork would have been constructed to create a base to lay the arch roof stones in mortar. On completion the formwork would have been dismantled and the roadway above would have again been open to traffic. The date for this modification could have been early 1870, MW Mulciber being supplied on 1st August that year. By this time the main access to the estate had changed to the driveway from Cattle Lane in Aberford up through the Triumphal Arch and on to the Hall.

Since both rail and other traffic shared the use of the arch there must have been a deliberate use of the engine whistle as it neared the bridge to avoid a potential collision, this said the speed of the train, at around 12-15mph would not have posed the danger of today's high speed express trains, indeed the noise itself would have alerted road users to the trains arrival. However above, on the roadway, was for the exclusive use of the Gascoigne's and their visitors. Today the lane is a secluded and tranquil location, it is hard to imagine an old Manning Wardle Saddle Back Engine's with the single carriage and coal trucks trundling down the line.

Old Kettle

The kettle featured in the photograph was found near the arch and may well be the remnants of one used on the footplate of the engines. It still contains a large amount of scale on it's base.

Remains of a kettle

Light Arch Page on the old site

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