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Upper, Middle And Lower Witton Reservoirs.

Pedrocut

Master Barmy
Somewhere on the Forum it was mentioned about a tragedy in this area at the sand pits near Witton Lakes, but I can’t as yet locate it. Any ideas?
 

Astoness

TRUE BRUMMIE MODERATOR
Staff member
Somewhere on the Forum it was mentioned about a tragedy in this area at the sand pits near Witton Lakes, but I can’t as yet locate it. Any ideas?
i dont recall it pedro but i would think someone will

lyn
 

Pedrocut

Master Barmy
Thanks. I now seem to recollect that it could have been Morturn in connection with a sand pit as opposed to the Lake itself. Also that lady P may have made a comment.

Something to do with a path that led down to the lake through an hedge?
 

Morturn

Super Moderator
Anyone know when Brookvale became a reservoir? I think it was around the turn of the 20th C. The houses look as if they were build around that time too. Perhaps this had something to do with it.
The first organised water supply for Birmingham gained its first act of parliament in 1826 where its source of water was, believe it or not the River Tame.

It was a bit slow in its growth, as was many organised water supplies’ of the time and was not granted a charter of incorporation until 1838. Even then in 1849 a government inspector reported to the board of heath that the towns water supply was unsatisfactory.
 

Pedrocut

Master Barmy
The first organised water supply for Birmingham gained its first act of parliament in 1826 where its source of water was, believe it or not the River Tame.

It was a bit slow in its growth, as was many organised water supplies’ of the time and was not granted a charter of incorporation until 1838. Even then in 1849 a government inspector reported to the board of heath that the towns water supply was unsatisfactory.
This gives us a time frame. It would be interesting to see what the area was like before the reservoirs were enlarged. Assuming there was a good supply of water.
 

Pedrocut

Master Barmy
AE9A1364-1041-4283-AD3F-608CDFD565C6.jpeg 715DAF5E-127E-4ED4-B906-6E7ECB118926.jpeg C25BB04D-9E44-4068-8413-431A2D3D8B88.jpeg 4CDE9DCE-0EDB-4744-B090-C448713C4DE6.jpeg

The map from the late 1880s shows the Reservoirs that would become Witton Lakes and Brookvale Park.

In 1854 Birmingham Water Works gave notice of an application to be given to Parliament (thumbnails). It appears that one of the reservoirs would be situated at Witton Upper Pools where existed a Mill and Mill House.... belonging to Wyrley Birch Esq. In 1830 there is an advert To LET for Upper Witton Mill, occupied by an Edge Tool manufacturer, but capable of being used as a flour mill, with house, stable, outbuildings and 8 acres of land, and two large pools for the supplying the mill with abundant supply of water.

Another reservoir would be situate at Witton Lower Pools with Mill and Mill House, belonging to Wyrley Birch. In 1828 another advert for Lower Witton Rolling Mill with House and pools, and excellent water wheels.... Supply of water believed to be equivalent to 5 Horse power...... Reservoirs about eleven acres, and presumed that reservoirs could be increased to supply the town of Birmingham with soft water... at much less expense than the river Tame which is 22 feet lower and of inferior quality.

From another paper it says that the engineer proposes to deepen and enlarge the Witton Upper Pools and convert item into a reservoir covering upwards of 30 acres. The water will flow from this storage ground through Hawthorn Brook into Witton Lower Pools where by deepening and enlarging the area, another reservoir will be constructed. From there the water will flow through pipes to Aston Reservoir.

(The application could be of interest to Lady P as it tells of some of the field names and their owners, such as Bleak Hills, Middle and Lower Slades and Hawthorn Brook.)

In 1858 the B'ham Water Co report that work on the cleansing, deepening and enlarging the Lower Pools is nearly complete.... they regret to report that the bank of the lower of the Upper Witton pools burst causing damage but no loss of life.

In March 1856 Abraham Jones invites all to a Farewell at the Forge Tavern, Upper Witton Pools as it will be the last time rowing and sailing boats will be placed on the beautiful water. They will be then sold as the water is required for the waterworks. At the Lower Pools and the Boat Tavern it seems business as usual.

A report in 1874 concerning the B' ham Waterworks Co, its history and works, describes Witton Well, although it has not included dates.... situated at the top of the Upper Witton Reservoir, near the Golden Cross at Short Health. (It then goes on to describe the details of the sinking) The quantity of water this well is capable of yielding has been tested as 2.5 million gallons per day.
 

mikejee

Super Moderator
Staff member
Here are two engineering plans from 1854 of the area from engineers tasked with the scheme. I understand that these were the plans submitted to parliament. The engineer for the scheme was Henry Rofe, the consulting engineer Thomas Hawksley and the surveyors William Fowler & son, Unfortunately they are not vertical north-south . The mill at Perry Barr can be seen, as can the two lower pools. Sorry for the dark area to the left on one plan, but it is bound with other plans close to the edge of the binding.

P1000434C.jpg P1000436B.jpg
 

mikejee

Super Moderator
Staff member
Henry Rofe is listed as a civil engineer at 16 Paradise St in the 1855 PO directory. the other two firms do not appear to be from Birmingham
 

Lady Penelope

master brummie
Mike, I think the Wm Fowler & Son refers to William who lived in Wood End House in Erdington. He was a land surveyor. I've come across him in connection with the enclosure acts and other things.
 

mikejee

Super Moderator
Staff member
That would fit, being close. As Erdington was not in Birmingham it was not included apparently in the main list in that directory. However in Whites directory for the same year there are several Fowlers listed in the area: Richard, land agent Gravelly Hill; Richard junior, land agent, Wood End; William, land surveyor, Birch Green; William junior, land surveyor, Wood end; and also a William, gent. William Fowler & Son are at 23 Waterloo St
;
 

Pedrocut

Master Barmy
For Anglers...

In October 1891 it was reported that a pike of 15 pounds had been landed from Upper Witton Reservoir.

In 1905 the Lower Reservoir was opened to anglers after an 8 year closure. One angler fishing after dark caught a 2 pound trout. (Taken on a Zulu Fly)

In 1910 a 12 pound pike from Middle Witton Reservoir.
 

Lady Penelope

master brummie
Thanks Mike. In cases like this (post #7) I wish that they didn't have the same names. William - I think Jnr - who was alive in 1887, was president of the Erdington Historical Society and gave an address in that year which I've found very useful. He was also a JP.
 

Pedrocut

Master Barmy
A1E91095-29B1-49C0-BF59-AB3BCB5F1CA6.jpeg

It seems that Hawthorn Brook (red) defines the township boundary between Witton and Erdington. In 1827 there is an advert for freehold land at “that romantic spot COPELEY,” near Salford Bridge. (It has featured in the Thread "Salford Bridge") It states that a great portion of the land is skirted by Hawthorn brook falling into the River Tame at Dwarf-Holes.

"...for any manufacturing use, such as silk mills, or a distillery plant, where purity of water is wanted, nothing of the kind presents itself within so short a distance, and with the salubrity of the air may very justly be denominated the Malvern of Warwickshire."

Bill Dargue sites Dwarf Holes being at the foot of Copeley Hill which rises west of Slade Road.

Upper Witton Mill in 1830 was used for edge tool manufacture and in 1834 was still edge tool when a partnership between William Chapman and William Lilly was dissolved.

The pathway on the map may well exist today being accessed from the Deykin Avenue Bridge on the canal? From the end of the pathway on the old map you would look down to Lower Witton Mill, and in the 1828 advert it was stated that the water was 22 feet above the level of the River Tame.

The pathway has featured somewhere else on the Forum.

[2) The pipe across the canal may still exist just near the canal bridge where the towpath changes sides, and nearly under the motorway?
 

mikejee

Super Moderator
Staff member
The pipe does not seem visible on google earth, but then, as this old reservoir is no longer used for water supply, this is not surprising.
John, a friend of mine who was brought up in Erdington, remembers the Dwarf holes, which disappeared when Spaghetti junction was built.
Further to the last maps, in 1866 more work was planned in the area, with new pipelines and pump houses. the plans for this around Witton are shown below

P1000437A.jpg
 
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