Parlington Hall :: The Estate :: Former Lake

Locations of the Former Lake

The properties known as Laverack Cottages which lie on the east side of the road between Barwick in Elmet and Garforth, just south of where Parlington Lane ends; were at one time part of Parlington Colliery. [See Header Plan] In the field east of the cottages adjacent to Parlington Lane are some low mounds in the ground, these are all that remain [visible] of the pit, owned by Sir Thomas Gascoigne. Moving forward from the eighteenth century of the last Baronet, Richard Oliver Gascoigne is the likely candidate for the construction of the lake, probably as early as the 1820's. Then some decades later his daughters the new heiresses [Isabella and Elizabeth] in 1840's added the dismantled remains of St. Marys church, Garforth to create a folly at the head of the lake from the walls and chancel window. This was to become a pleasure ground in the form of an ornamental lake, with an island, rocky promontory, boathouse and various water features. All this used to lie just behind the cottages in the woodland, sadly it no longer exists.

The fact that a lake used to exist just off the Garforth to Barwick in Elmet road, comes as a surprise to many. It was formed by containing the Cock Beck about 800 yards north from the point where the river passes beneath the stone bridge on the road south of the present golf course [Garforth Golf Course]. It was drained in the early twentieth century due to fears of the water entering the nearby coal workings, [disused since the 1920's]. It was drained in more recent years after the sale of the estate in 1964, I am now reliably informed, so the story about the danger to the coal mines was a fiction! Sorry about that, but then at least you can change the text on the Internet!

Remains of the Dam Wall

The dam wall in the picture above as viewed from above by the Folly. It seems the dam wall, was breached using dynamite to let the lake contents surge down the valley of the Cock Beck, a sort of mini tsunami, I can read the headlines, Aberford hit by freak wave! The dam wall was sited in the deep cutting that exists beneath the folly. in the section marked A on the image below.

The fact that the lake was drained and the method used to drain it lead to some further questions. Did the explosive charge have any affect on the structure of the folly, causing it to partially collapse into the river waters below? Certainly there are substantial pieces of the carved head of the window lying in the river bed! Has the absence of the lake increased the likelyhood of flooding, especially down stream at Bridge Cottages in Aberford?

A Section of the Chancel Window in the River

The lake was drained, so I am informed, to provide a verdant planting area for poplar trees; apparently a great potential cash crop at the time for the timber to be used in match making. Seemingly the emergence of the humble throw away plastic lighter doomed this wood enterprise taking the bottom out of the market for matches! So we now have an area dominated by mature poplar trees many of which have keeled over in the soft subsoil, which once formed the lake bed. It is a place infested with mosquitoes and other bugs in the summer months, a far cry from the idyl it was proclaimed in the poem which follows on the next page of this section.

Key Plan of the Former Lake

Click here for a larger plan of the lake. I recommend opening the plan view alongside the main window if you have sufficient screen resolution to follow the various points covered about the former lake.

The plan shows five key areas of interest denoted A-E:
(A) The location of the folly L3, boathouse L2, waterfall L5, dam & overflow channel L6, and footbridge L7.
(B) Bridge over the eastern end of the lake L8.
(C) Promitory with feature crags and planted trees L8.
(D) Bridge over the Cock Beck at the start of the lake L9.
(E) Lakeside cottage on the south side of the lake L9.

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Continued on L2.

Former Lake Page on the old site

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