Watercourses of Yardley



All watercourses in the manor of Yardley (excluding canals!) are tributaries of the River Cole, those on the east side being source streams of Easthall Brook, which enters the river beside Chelmsley Wood. Very few names are known, so convenient location names indicating either source or course have been given to them herein. A number of brooks are visible today only in their lower reaches, some cannot be found: their former presence has been deduced from relief (dips in suburban streets), from alluvial deposits shown on the Drift Geology Map, and from documentary references. No attempt is made to list the many rills which once fed the Cole and its side-streams: in the Dingle, where their outfall gratings may be counted, there are six in half a mile and that is probably the general frequency.

Left bank of the Cole

YARDLEY WOOD BROOK rises near Prince of Wales Lane at Gorleston Road. It is nearly a mile long, but culverted for half its length. It is the Yardley (Birmingham)/ Solihull boundary as far as the Cole, and is open beside a surviving strip of Yardley Wood Common. Bampton's Pool is upon it. Formerly diverted in a Cole-side meadow as the tailrace of Priory Mill, it now enters Cole directly.

CHINN BROOK rises close to the Cole on the Alvechurch/Wythall boundary. It may be the original source-stream of the river. At Titterford it originally joined the river, after flowing north-easterly for 4½ miles, but from the building of the watermill it was diverted into the quarter-mile tailrace. A leat taken off the brook near Yardley Wood Road supplied the millpond beside the horse-chestnut trees, and a 'floating course' from a sluice on its north bank led floodwater into the meadow below the mill. The brook was called 'cionda' (chin-da) in the Charter of 972, and 'the Water of Chynne' in 1495. A watermill associated with Monyhull sub-manor was powered by the brook: Alcester Road crossed the valley on its dam at the foot of Millpool Hill. For a few yards below the confluence with Haunch Brook, the Chinn is the Yardley/Kings Norton boundary.

HAUNCH BROOK rises near Wheelers Lane on Kings Heath. It is a mile long, all but the first quarter-mile being the Yardley/Kings Norton boundary. A slade upon it west of Hollybank Road is a bequest to the City as an open space: this is the 'launde' (glade) recorded in the 972 Charter. The valley has been pleasantly landscaped at the bottom of Billesley Common. The brook joins the Chinn west of Yardley Wood Road close to 'The Valley' and the former 'Watersplash' ford.

BILLESLEY BROOK rises near the Brook Lane/Yardley Wood Road crossroads, and descends half a mile to the Cole at the Whirl Hole, where the head-race to Sarehole Mill begins. It is now culverted throughout.

SWANSHURST BROOK rises near the top of Brook Lane and joins the Cole near the site of Sarehole Farm. From 1768 to 1934 it entered the Sarehole Mill headrace, but is now culverted under the new Wake Green Road to the river just below the site of Robin Hood ford. It supplies Swanshurst Pool and is open through the miniature golf course, but is culverted from source to pool.

COLDBATH BROOK rises near the top of Cambridge Road, Kings Heath and is 1½ miles long. After diversion into Sarehole Mill's tailrace, it enters the Cole near Green Road. It is open from Billesley Lane eastward. Of four pools and several ponds upon it, only Coldbath (half-silted) and Sarehole Millpool survive. Lady Mill Pool, osier bed ponds, and 'Old Pool' have gone, though the bed of the last is the ill-drained wetland called 'Moseley Bog'. A great tank east of Yardley Wood Road lies beneath a playing field: it takes the product of street-drainage from Kings Heath after heavy rain.

SPRINGFIELD BROOK rises near Moseley School (Spring Hill College), is visible but usually dry in the Yardley Poor Allotments, and is culverted east of Springfield Road.

SHOWELL GREEN BROOK rises near the Yardley Wood Road/Wake Green Road crossing and enters the Cole beside Formans Road. It is open beside Sparkhill Park: a former tributary from Hazel Dell is culverted: it filled the Park pool, infilled post-World War Two.

SPARK BROOK rises in Spring Field, Showell Green, and now enters the Cole just south of the Oxford Railway embankment. The natural confluence was a quarter-mile north: there has been much interference with the watercourses due to watermill, canal, and railway thereabout. For almost its entire length of two miles it is the manor boundary, Yardley/Kings Norton and Bordesley, and has also separated dioceses, shires, hundreds, ends, wards, and constituencies. Danford Lake was made upon it, with Golden Hillock Road using its dam as a causeway. The brook is now culverted to just east of that road. Although a small stream, it was an obstacle to travel, described as a 'torrent' in 1511. There were inns strategically placed at either edge of its boggy valley, the Mermaid and the Angel. After the turnpiking of Stratford Road in 1726-7 (probably about a half-century later), the highway was raised on a causeway across the valley. Stoney Lane was able to run parallel and close to the brook because of the firm and dry gravel which gave its name. The stagnant and rubbish-filled brook was covered and the lane widened over it in 1896: it remained open east of Stratford Road until the Barber Estate was built there around the turn of the century. At that time a feeder to the Warwick Canal north of the brook was also infilled. For half a mile east from Golden Hillock Road the straightened brook is the south bound of 'The Ackers' leisure complex.


Right bank of the Cole

SHIRLEY BROOK rises on Sandy Hill near Stratford Road and flows south-west one mile to the Cole opposite the confluence with Yardley Wood Brook: it is also the Yardley (Birmingham)/Solihull boundary, but as its name implies is additionally the shire bound. It is open until it goes beneath the North Warwickshire line embankment. There was a mill upon it, whose bed is still traceable.

'PRIMROSE BROOK' rises near Primrose Lane and flows into the Cole opposite Titterford Millpool. It is open west of the railway embankment, and (as with other culverted brooks) its bed is traceable elsewhere in the dips of suburban streets.

ROBIN HOOD BROOK rises near Highfield Road, which diverts round its spring course, and enters the Cole just below the site of Robin Hood ford. It is culverted throughout its half-mile length.

RIDDINGS BROOK rises near Reddings Lane and enters the Cole south of Formans Road. It is a quarter-mile long and fully culverted. There were once many such rills which cannot now be traced.

TYSELEY BROOK ('RIVER LEE') rises near Hall Green Church and flows north to enter the Cole just south of the confluence with the Spark. The laying of the Hall Green Sewer two decades ago involved the culverting of the 1½-miles brook, which used to help power Hay Mill. The laying out of the multiple rail tracks of Tyseley Repair Yards after 1907 necessitated diversion westward of the brook.

REDHILL and STOCKFIELD BROOKS are deduced from relief: the former rose near the top of Amington Road, the latter beside Rushey Lane.

DEAKINS, FAST PITS, WASH MILL, and BACHELORS FARM BROOKS are rills shown on estate maps: the first two were diverted into the headrace of Wash Mill, the third into the millpool. Only the last is not wholly culverted.

STICH BROOK rises near the Yew Tree and flows north for a mile to the Cole. It is now wholly below ground. Stoney Lane could follow the brook course closely because of its gravel bed. Stichford Field overlay the ridge between the river and the brook.

YARDLEY or CHURCH BROOK rises near St. Edburgha's and flows north for 1½ miles. Church Field overlaid the ridge between the Stich and Yardley Brooks. The Solihull Rural Sanitary Authority sewer is flushed by the culverted brook, and Colehall Sewage Works was constructed at its outfall in the riverside meadows.

Tributaries of Easthall Brook

BROOMHALL BROOK rises east of Four Ways, Hall Green, flowing from the shallow pond called Bushmere, which became Bushmore (bog) as it dried out. The brook flows north and east to join Kineton Green Brook east of the manor bound. Two fishponds were made at the confluence with a tributary, and used to power a small corn mill. This may have been working in 1609, when the Boundary presentment called the brook 'the Rasse', which may mean 'tail race'. Both pools have been drained, and a concrete cascade descends the slope. The brook is open in Fox Hollies Park.

WHISLEY (WESTLEY) BROOK rises near Fox Green and flows north then east for one mile into Kineton Green Brook. En route it serves as a feeder to the Warwick Canal. Two lost tributaries joined it in Deep More, a bog formerly a pool, dammed by a causeway used by Clay Lane: this sump was used as a sewage farm last century.

LYNDON GREEN BROOK rises south of Yardley Church. With its tributaries it forms the manor bound for ¾-mile. The watercourses are now dry.


The WARWICK CANAL was begun in Deritend in 1793. It crosses Spark and Cole on a brick aqueduct approached on high embankments. Summit level is maintained by following brook courses, curving to run parallel to the Cole, Redhill, and Whisley Brook valleys. The last two are tapped for water. A deep cutting and tunnel are needed across the Stockfield ridge. Wharves were made on both sides of Yardley Road, for the loading of tiles and the unloading of coal respectively. After the formation of the Grand Union Canal Company in 1929 the canal was deepened, the banks were concrete piled, and the tunnel was reconstructed. A basin built to serve War One munitions factories east of the railway viaduct was restored as an early project of 'The Ackers' Trust, and a marina is to be provided thereabout as a centre for water activities. There is no commercial traffic on the canal. Huge dumps of refuse and clinker carried by narrow boat to the confluence meadows are being landscaped and planted.

The STRATFORD CANAL began at Kings Norton in 1793. It follows the Chinn valley, and enters Yardley at Warstock. Leaving, it cuts deeply into Yardley Wood Common, then follows the bounding brook valley. Wharves for coal and lime at Warstock were later the venue for townees: meadows between the canal and the Chinn Brook were called 'Happy Valley', a fairground, pavilion, and boatyard being the attractions. Fairly well maintained by British Waterways as the link between the Worcester and Warwick Canals, the cut is used only by pleasure craft: for many decades it was not only a source of fuel and materials but a quick route to Birmingham market by 'flyboat'.


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