The so called
Light Arch presumably takes it's 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bridge was built to take traffic from the Hook Moor entrance on the Old Great North Road [Formally the A1, itself now superceded by the By-Pass which runs to the east of Aberford.]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 entrance at Hook Moor passes between two charming Georgian Lodge's, the driveway then rises as it crosses the fields to the rear of the Almshouses, some quarter of a mile away beside the Great North Road, then dipping steeply down towards Parlington Lane, where the Light Arch spans the old coal road.
The arch pre-dates the railway and may be older than the Dark Arch, although it could have been built around the same time, indeed the stonework and style are complementary. The driveway from Hook Moor is dependant upon some structure to cross the lower Parlington Lane. So as long as access was used from Hook Moor there must have been a crossing over the lane, whether by this bridge or another is unknown. Whereas the trains on Parlington Lane skirted the Dark Arch, they passed under the Light Arch and evidence of soot from the engines can still be seen on the soffit. Originally the height of the side walls was lower by the depth of the large stone course beneath the
Springers It was raised to accommodate the passage of the trains.
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.
The railway was steam powered in 1870, but it should be remembered that coal traffic passed for many years before this with horse power providing the means of transmission, locally coined the
High Flyer which freewheeled to Aberford on the three mile trip from Garforth. The horse taking advantage of the gradient and stepping on to a purpose designed cart at the rear of the train, for a ride to Aberford.
The Light Arch construction indicates a considerable level of engineering sophistication as the stone copings are semi-dovetailed to its neighbour, thus reducing the possibility of horizontal shift in the stones. The deep course of masonry below the arch is the course which was introduced to raise the overall height.
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.
Parlington Hall in the late Nineteenth century. Taken from a photograph provided
by the Garforth Historical Society.