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Edgbaston Reservoir was originally known as Rotton Park Reservoir. Rotton Park (“parc de Rotton iuxta Birmingham” - 1307) is thought to have been the hunting park of the medieval Lords of Birmingham. The relatively open land of the park once stretched from Ladywood to Bearwood, between roughly the lines of Hagley and Dudley roads today.

The Reservoir was designed by world famous engineer, Thomas Telford, as part of his scheme for improving the Birmingham Canal.  It was built between 1824-9 to provide water for the Birmingham and Wolverhampton Levels of the canal system, not for drinking water.  The original reservoir location was centered on roach pool in a depression in the ground fed by several natural springs and watercourses, but the majority of the water that maintains the reservoirs level is supplied from another reservoir at Tipton via an aqueduct.  

Telford also straightened the canal by cutting off the curves in the sinuous course taken by builder James Brindley in 1767-72. One of Brindley’s “loops” survives as Icknield Port Loop beyond the dam wall. The Reservoir Lodge by the main car park dates from c1829 and appears to follow a standard Telford design and is now Grade II listed.

The area was still mostly open land in the 1750s when Jo Perrott built his famous Folly (open to visitors). The Canal and Reservoir brought industry and houses, causing rapid development, mainly from expansion of the Gillot Estate towards the end of the 1800s. Little now sadly remains of the open lands of Rotton Park except for Summerfield Park.

A full version of the history of Edgbaston Reservoir written by Peter Leather, can be obtained by contacting admin@fer.org.uk.