Broomhall and Lady Mills
Broomhall was an ancient moated site of large size. ‘Bromhalas’ (Broom Hollows) is referred to in the Yardley Charter of 972, and the site may have been in occupation then. The mill, on what passes for a fairly steep little stream in these parts, is probably early Medieval - it is not recorded in the Domesday Book, but no Yardley mill then was. In the 1609 Boundary Presentment the Broomhall Brook is called ‘The Rasse’, which may mean the rail-race of a mill. I have found two other references to it so far: it was apparently in use between 1778 and 1803, and John Taylor II bought the fishing rights in the millpool and the nearby pool in 1783.
The mill is shown on maps up to 1880 (not on Beighton), and the pool and linking fishpond survived until the estate was bought by the City of Birmingham: the pond was then drained, and the millpool too, the stream being led down a series of concrete steps, creating a cascade as an amenity for the Fox Hollies Park which has been made along the valley. The comparative steepness of the slope leads me to assume that a small diameter undershot wheel may have been used here.
Lady Mill, Swanshurst
This mill was the property of the Grevis family of Moseley Hall. The name may indicate that its revenues were given for the service of Our Lady, presumably for the Chapel of St. Mary in Moseley - as probably those of Lady Pool on a tributary of the Spark Brook.
The date of construction of the mill has not been established for certain, but it was probably one of the two watermills recorded in the possession of Benjamin Grevis in 1689. It was probably the Greethurst Mill (Holte’s Mill), recorded in 1517. Greethurst was the estate through which the Coldbath Brook runs, now Moseley Golf Course. It was known to be working from 1753 until about 1830: in 1769 it was to let, being then in good repair and having ten acres of land. There were osier beds in the extremely ill-drained meadows about and below the mill. In its latter days the mill was used for wire-drawing. The 1840s Tithe Map shows Windmill Close nearby, and a bare knoll is identifiable today as the site of the mill: perhaps it was that which was recorded with the two watermills in 1689, and – possibly - it was a replacement for Lady Mill when the latter changed from corn-grinding.
The watermill was a timber-framed building, infilled with red brick, and had a millhouse alongside. Demolished about 1830, it could be identified long afterwards by its foundations: there was a local tradition of a secret treasure chamber where footpads (active on the two turnpikes nearby) hid their loot, and this may be a fantasy based on the remains of a cellar. Stoney Lane (the old name) descended very steeply to the small bridge over the Coldbath Brook, being lined with trees on the east, and falling away to the marshy bed of the former millpool on the west. In 1924 a bus killed two girls in the lane bottom where there was a fairly sharp bend, and the planned road improvements were hurried forward. The road was raised and widened, the brook was culverted, and the last traces of the mill disappeared, except for the sheltering tree, an enclosing hedge, and a field gate. Until the early 1960s, a line of prefabs hid the site of the millpool. Part of the poolbed has been overbuilt, but some of the trees in and around it survive. Lady Mill might never have existed - yet still the road follows the old line, where a track descended to take advantage of the firm crossing over a very marshy vale which the pool dam provided.
The Coldbath Brook has been dammed in four places. The Coldbath Pool and Lady Mill Pool are very close together in the steepest part of the valley. Below them was ‘Old Pool’, and just above the confluence with the Cole was Sarehole Mill Pool. Coldbath survives as a reedy hazard in Moseley Golf Course, Lady Mill Pool is dry, the broken weir of ‘Old Pool’ can still be seen with an alder swamp filling its bed, and Sarehole Pool is largely overgrown. The ill-drained bed of ‘Old Pool’ is now incorrectly called Moseley Bog. It is not only a wetland area of interest to naturalists, but burnt mounds, which may be Bronze Age saunas, have been found along the stream course in the former pool area. The meadows about the brook just below the millsite have been expensively drained to make playing fields. Beneath the playing fields is a great tank for flood-water storage.
Was there a mill at the outfall of Coldbath Pool? There is a good fall at that point, and ancient brickwork can be seen at the outflow. Could it have been an earlier Lady Mill, later removed to the lower site following the construction of an overflow pool? This would be before 1750, the earliest map record of the mill in the lower position.
Provisional list of Cole valley watermills
Peterbrook, Dobbs, Crab, Kilcop and Forshaw Mills
Colebrook Priory and Old Mills
Broomhall and Lady Mills
Possible mills in Greet and Tyseley, Medley's Mill