Walton has a fascinating history – In the 1700’s Squire Waterton established Walton Hall as the world’s first nature reserve. An intrepid traveller, the squire embarked on many exhibitions to the jungles of Africa and in most particular the south American continent which fascinated him greatly.
On his journeys he would investigate new species with interest, some of which he would bring back to his nature reserve to see how they faired. Presumably some of the creatures faired better than others and it might be suggested that his love for all creatures big and small led him to develop his interests as a taxidermist.
His rebellious nature coupled with his taxidermy skills led him to create a number of curious creatures which were made of different animals. He is also credited for bringing the anaesthetic agent curare wourali to Europe. He successfully put to sleep various animals before reviving them. One of his first patients, a donkey called Wouralia was successfully revived by Waterton and went on to live for years at Walton Hall.
Squire Waterton certainly put Walton on the map but by the time of the industrial revolution Walton also became known as a thriving mining village. Walton colliery became fully established by 1890 with the sinking of new colliery shafts and by 1930 a staggering 1200 men were employed at the colliery.
Coal mining finally came to an end in the village in 1979 with the closure of the mines. This area has now been transformed into another nature reserve and is a wonderful place to enjoy on a sunny day.