The Dark Arch

Please Note (Update August 2008)

 The Site has been substantially redesigned with a lot of new content recently, if you entered from a search engine or bookmark to a particular page it's possible you have missed the new section, to visit it, please go to the Intro Page and navigate from there. If you wish to return to this old site there are links available in a menu on the right of the new pages, which when clicked will show the full listing.

The Dark Arch Section on the new site is here

The Dark Arch, 'The spookey bit of Parlington'

West Entrance to the Dark Arch Tunnel

Ok! it's not really frightening, it's just that many people choose to avoid passing through the 'Arch' and use the sunk fence (ha-ha) between the arch and the former deer park. Which is to the right of the arch in the photo.

The Dark arch was built between 1813-14 during the time of Richard Oliver Gascoigne. The level of the roadway through the tunnel is lower than the naturally occuring ground, which was probably the level of the adjacent sunk fence. However in classic Civil Engineering style the roadway was fashioned by using, cut and fill principles. That being the amount excavated equalling the amount filled, in approximate terms, in this instance the garden area being the fill on the north side of the tunnel.

The Gascoigne's would have had access to many capable workers both from the pit's they owned in Garforth and the many estate workers, their labours have produced a lasting memorial to what can be achieved with a pick, shovel and hard graft! Sadly the many miles of tunnels the mine workers hewed from the ground beneath in persuit of 'Black Gold' will never be observed by today's generation, so it is fitting to consider their efforts in this endeavour, which will last for many years beyond the coal pits which have been hurridly levelled. For those who are unaware of pit life and the sometime horrors which visited workers read this Death of a local miner at the Peckfield mine in nearby Micklefield. Not a Gascoigne mine but serious enough to warrant a visit by Colonel Gascoigne.

The Tunnel is curved on plan and incorporates four air grates which are found in the surface of the garden. It is approximately 90 metres in length, and has a drainage system running along the length of the south wall which discharges into the river Crow to north of the tunnel running across the former gardens of Parlington Hall.

The tunnel is constructed of stone and shows signs of being extended eastwards. It has survived into the twenty first century and should be cared for, sadly people keep 'nicking' the stonework from the walls and general pieces of structure around, probably unaware of the efforts of their ancestors in striving to build this structure.

The Dark Arch, Inside

Whilst it is 'Dark' inside the arch, it is not foreboding, however following a visit to photograph the inside the author was suprised to discover when reviewing the images that one contained 'orbs' which cannot be readily explained. The 'orb' is moving across the image towards the camera and is clearly in three steps, suggesting movement as the camera shutter operates. No light bounced off anything within the tunnel and a close inspection revealed no glass or other reflecting materials near the site. So maybe we have a friendly ghost in the tunnel, I like to think it is looking after the structure!

The detailed image below clearly shows the light moving from right to left, I would like to hear from anyone who can explain this aberation.

The tunnel allowed traffic along Parlington Lane to pass without disturbing the lifestyle of the Gascoigne family, no doubt the roadway and stonework would have been kept in first rate condition, sadly today the whole area is overgrown and much work is needed to maintain the walls of the estate. It is rumored that during the period of Colonel Frederick Gascoigne, after 1850, a game of cricket being played on the lawns was disrupted, when the Colonels 'Whites' were spoiled by soot! The train driver was required to report to the Hall to explain! The Colonel is reputed to have given him a severe reprimand! How times change!

Where Did the Train Go!

A similar train to the Manning Wardle's which can be seen at York Railway Museum

Most people believe the tunnel was the route of the train, this is completely wrong, the tunnel pre-dated the train. When the tunnel was built the engineers would not have considered the use of a mechanical monster to replace the efforts normally required by horse or man!

Manning Wardle 'Ignifer'

Manning Wardle Ignifer 1871

This is believed to be the Ignifer before it was despatched to the Garforth Colliery in 1871, the picture is from The Locomotives Built by Manning Wardle & Company Volume 2 Standard Gauge, by Fred W Harman.

Cycle Route around Aberford

An article by Paul Kirkwood, pictured above, in the June edition of Yorkshire Life sets out a cycle route incorporating the Fly Line, taking in many of the local points of interest, well worth a read.

The Dark Arch May 2006

Recent Flooding at the Dark Arch

Following all the heavy rain this May, the drainage in the Dark Arch was not able to cope with the shear volume of water coming down from the Deer Park, It was over two feet deep through the tunnel on Monday 22nd May 2006.

The above picture is the same entrance as is shown above.

Parlington Hall in the late Nineteenth century. Taken from a photograph provided
by the Garforth Historical Society.