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Welcome to Walton.About Walton

Walton Overview

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The village of Walton is a community in the Wakefield Metropolitan District in the County of West Yorkshire. The village is about 5.5 kilometres (3.5 miles) to the south of the City of Wakefield between Sandal Magna and Crofton.

It is a pleasant village with a bit of a history, a few fine old houses, some good farmland and leisure areas close at hand.  The village is home to what was the world's first nature reserve, created by Charles Waterton, the Squire of Walton Hall.
Walton is still (just about) surrounded by countryside, although the spread of new houses from Wakefield, and development within the village itself, seems set to continue. To the south lies pleasant countryside including Haw Park Woods and Wintersett.

Although administered by Wakefield Metropolitan District Council (the "single tier authority"), Walton also has its own parish council that represents the interests of the village and deals with a range of local matters.

Public transport is provided by local Metro trains, the nearest station is at Sandal and Agbrigg, with Intercity trains at Wakefield Westgate.   Walton lost its own railway station on the old Midland line in the early sixties, around the time that the English railway network as a whole was decimated during the Beeching cuts ordered by the government of the day. The old Midland line, to the west of the village by Greenside, is still in use as a goods line and for the testing of trains. There is also a regular bus service to Wakefield and Crofton and beyond.

The station has gone but the village is still bounded on three sides by the remnants of the once extensive railway system. Indeed, the existence of the railway tracks around the village is considered to have helped Walton preserve its identity and fend off its absorption by the nearby city - the suburban sprawl that has enveloped Sandal Magna.

Walton Colliery

Walton Colliery
At one time, there was a colliery with pit shafts situated between Walton and Crofton on what is now the Walton Colliery Nature Park (WCNP).  The Walton pit (once known as Sharlston West) opened in 1890 and closed in 1979 before the Miners' Strike of the 1980s.On 22nd April 1959, five men lost their lives when an explosion of firedamp occurred in the mine. (more ...)

Walton Hall Blue Plaque

Walton Hall & Squire Charles Waterton
Walton Hall, formerly the home of Squire Charles Waterton, the Naturalist (1782 - 1865), is set in Walton Park (since the 1990s also known as Waterton Park) at the end of a lane (formerly the Avenue) off the Balk. The trees that lined the Avenue have been replaced on one side by somewhat less than picturesque telegraph poles and a hedge on the other. The hall is a short walk of around 1 km from Shay Lane in the village, either along the Balk from the War Memorial, or along the canal route from the site of Soap House Bridge at Shay Lane (opposite Walton Locks and Walton Sports & Social Club).

After the Watertons, Walton Hall had a variety of occupants. It went slowly into decline and suffered from neglect - but now, things are better and the hall is in use as a hotel - Waterton Park Hotel. Near the hall, Walton Hall Farm has been converted into houses (Brockswood Court) in an agreeable setting.   The Park has extensive public footpaths and is also home to Waterton Park Golf Course. Sadly, Waterton's Wall is in ruin in many places. The fact that Walton Hall is a listed building has not protected the boundaries of Waterton's old nature reserve.

The Heronry and Stubbs Wood or Piece still exist within the walls of Walton Park. Stubbs Farm House, just outside the wall, became a ruin and was demolished some years ago. The Waterton Country Heritage Centre is at the nearby Anglers Country Park at Wintersett.

Barnsley Canal

Barnsley Canal
There is also the remains of an engineering triumph - the now disused Barnsley Canal, in use in Walton until 1952. The canal ran from the River Calder in Wakefield, through rich coal mining country and Barnsley, crossing the River Dearne by a magnificent aqueduct, to Barnby Basin, west of Barnsley.

The main sections of the canal in the village were filled in 1956. Some long serving villagers can remember playing in the canal in their youth, and for a pint, will probably be glad to repeat their stories. Times change and much of the canal has disappeared almost without trace.

Happily, some stretches of water to the north and south of the village are relatively clear and used by anglers. The footpaths along the canal form part of the Trans Pennine Trail through the village and run through some pleasant countryside, particularly to the south of the village.

Hodgson & Simpson Sweet May Soap Box

Soap - Hodgson & Simpson
Walton had one of the pioneers in pollution, Edward Thornhill Simpson, who owned a soap factory in Soap House Yard (later moved to Calder Island, Thornes).

The first soap manufacturer in the village, William Thornhill Hodgson, promised Squire Charles Waterton that he would not produce his own acids.
This promise was broken and Edward Thornhill Simpson expanded the factory and the pollution increased.

There followed a lengthy legal battle with accounts of a smear campaign and dubious tactics by the soap house supporters. Read more here.

Books about Walton, Charles Waterton, Guyana, and more!
See a selection of
books about Walton,
Charles Waterton,
Guyana and more.
• click here •
(Offered for sale by

A History of Walton, Peter Wright.

A History of Walton, by Peter Wright, 1985,
published by Countryside Publications Ltd, ISBN 0 86157 1916.
For a detailed look at the history of the village, Peter Wright's A History of Walton is a good starting point.
It is out of print, but may still be available on Amazon, visit the book shop.
Copies may still available on the internet and in the village community library and other public libraries in the Wakefield district.

■ Discover local history at Walton Community Library.

Local Development Framework.
The Local Development Framework
Read about the Local Development Framework and the Local Plan at Wakefield Council's official website:
• Local Plan page. (You may need to seach the council's site.)
• The LDF portal.
HS2 and Walton.
High Speed Train HS2 Phase 2
Read more.
Edward Simpson - Wakefield Express cutting.
There is another view of the "Soap House Simpsons":
Edward Simpson was active in local affairs, as this clipping from the Wakefield Express indicates.
To commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897, Mr Edward Simpson provided the land and materials for a new church in the Balk, St. Paul's.
Find out more about the church here .

© John S. Sargent, 1997 - 2021.  All rights reserved.  
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Walton near Wakefield, West Yorkshire.