Sunday, 16 June 2013
A Countryside of Babbling Brooks
"'A countryside of babbling brooks, smiling meadows and green trees, amidst which the song of the cuckoo was heard as early as in any part of rural England'.... the land was watered by the River Tame, on its wandering way to join the Trent near Tamworth."
This was how the area along the River Tame was described, before the fervent march of Birmingham's borders replaced the rural with the urban. Let's have a look at the rural Tame and some of these 'babbling brooks'.
The main thing that is really noticable about the River Tame when comparing the river of today with maps of it in the past, is how much it's route and course has been altered. The river now runs along many of the old mill races, and the original line of the river is covered in buildings, roads and other land. The One Stop Shopping Centre was a recent area that diverted the flow of the river through an old mill race, and many people in the area remember the route the river used to run, following the landscape. And near where the M6 now passes by the river (see above), the old meandering course is now straight lines and neat angles; Moor Lane and Perry Well Road areas are built where the river used to be.
As can also be seen above, the river area was filled with water channels, some leading out and back into the river, and some brooks and streams feeding the river themselves. When Stuart, Rob and I visited the river a couple of weeks ago, we noticed a stream feeding the Tame near Perry Bridges. I've looked at some old maps from the 1890s and early 1900s, and the stream doesn't seem to be named, but it is fed by a number of branches that go through fishing ponds, Perry Resevoir, sheep washes, a wire mill, the Bog Wood and the Holly Wood. Nearly all of these have now gone; the resevoir is now a boating pool in Perry Park, and a small stream still runs from it to the river, the one that feeds it below, but the rest of these 'babbling brooks' are now gone.
Above. Map showing the brook from the photo, near Perry Bridge (the original zigzag bridge).