The Quaker ironmaster Richard Reynolds began constructing a series of landscaped walks over Dale Coppice and Lincoln Hill in 1782. He knew the woods intimately and decided to level, widen and surface established industrial tracks. Along the way, unusual trees and shrubs were planted for their scent and colour, and numerous benches constructed, where walkers could rest and admire the views. The picture shows the remains of an arbor seat. The Sabbath Walks were probably the UK’s FIRST privately funded public park. This is based on extensive research carried out by Birmingham University and the Ironbridge Institute in 1999, and further research by the late Mike Pooley in 2002 commissioned by SGCT.
At the southernmost end of Lincoln Hill, Reynolds also built an ingenious edifice called the Rotunda, a bit like a bandstand with a revolving seat which allowed wonderful panoramic views of the Gorge and beyond. Even though the Rotunda was demolished in 1804, the masonry base remains, and the views from the site are still some of the finest to be had today.
Reynolds’ Walks were some of the earliest landscaped public walks, open to working families, as well as the numerous visitors who came to Coalbrookdale in the late 18th Century to witness for themselves the extraordinary industrial events occurring at the time.
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