Here is a surprise, Parlington used to have an ornamental lake! During the first half of the nineteenth century the Cock Beck was dammed and with the construction of an elaborate arrangement of sluices, channels and even a waterfall, slowly the Cock Beck, from near the bridge on Long Lane for around a quarter of a mile downstream the low lying ground became a lake. Today the only remaining intact asset of the lake project is, ‘Lakeside Cottage’, at the southern end tucked away off the Garforth and Barwick in Elmet road.
The lake became an important feature in life for the Gascoigne family during the second half of the nineteenth century, but lapsed into a swamp due to neglect after the turn of the twentieth century and eventually was destroyed by demolishing the dam walls, reputedly in the nineteen sixties, although there are conflicting views on this termination.
But let us imagine we were at the lake in during 1890’s standing near the cottage with the prospect of taking a stroll the perimeter of the lake! If we set off clockwise up the western bank, firstly we cross a small footbridge over the inlet of the beck and proceed on a raised bund which acts like an elevated walkway some four feet or so above the general ground level and sweeps round all the way to the head of the lake.
On our right is an artificial promontory strutting out into the lake waters constructed of massive pieces of sandstone, each weighing tons. Climbing the rocks we can see the shape of the lake, it is roughly triangular, like a rough cast flint arrow head pointing towards the south west. The great stones forming the rocky outcrop are probably taken out of the Gascoigne mines. On the flat plain between raised walkway and the lake edge is a young giant redwood, still in its infancy brought from the Sierra Nevada, USA around the 1850’s and all along the walkway is straddled by specimens trees, of oak, chestnut and beech, designed to create a woodland idyll in the future. Looking from this vantage point to the north east in the widest part of the lake is a small island. We shall continue our travels round the lake next time!