Edgbaston Reservoir is a large body of water built to supply the Birmingham Canal Navigations (BCN) system. It was constructed as part of Thomas Telford’s improvements to the BCN Main Line. The reservoir is now a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation, home to many wildlife species, the principal angling facility for Birmingham, and used for water leisure activities.
|Maintained by||Birmingham City Council|
Free street parking
What is the best way to enjoy this attraction?
The best way to get a feel for this attraction is to walk the path around the reservoir which covers a distance of 1.75 miles (2.8km). Start at the lodge on Reservoir Road. This building dates from 1830 and is Grade II listed . It was most likely built by Telford and displays an octagonal design that was typical of BCN buildings at the time.
As you walk around anti-clockwise, you’ll come to the south east edge of the embankment and if you peer over the fencing looking towards the city centre, you’ll see an overflow channel that leads down to the Icknield Port Loop canal. Continuing along the embankment will give you fantastic views of the Birmingham skyline and take you past the original sluice gate gears.
Walk past the Midlands Sailing Club and along the northern bank. You’ll eventually arrive at a bridge that crosses the feeder from Titford Pool that supplies the reservoir.
Continue round and you’ll start to get some of the best views of the reservoir with Birmingham on the horizon. On the way back to the lodge, you can walk on the bed of the reservoir (providing it’s not full) to glance at some of the original masonry that survives.
If you wish to feed the birds and ducks, please do so responsibly.
Be mindful that this attraction is popular with walkers, joggers and cyclists so expect a fair amount of people during peak hours. If the reservoir is half full, you can walk on the gravel bed along the banks, this makes it easier to walk around without having to keep avoiding other people.
If you have an interest in boating, check out the Midland Sailing Club and the Birmingham Rowing Club (established 1873), which is one of the oldest sports clubs in the city. The reservoir is a popular location for sailing, windsurfing and canoeing.
Birmingham City Council hold Ranger led activities, check out their park events list for upcoming dates. Community groups can also arrange guided walks.
You can fish at Edgbaston Reservoir except when it’s closed season between 15th March to 15th June each year. Be sure to check the rules for fishing in Birmingham.
How long does it take to see this attraction?
The 1.75 mile (2.8km) path around the reservoir will roughly take 35 minutes to go around. You may wish to stop at certain spots to enjoy the view or see points of interest, so this can easily be extended to 1 hour.
Is this attraction suitable for a picnic?
There are benches along the reservoir and grassy areas by the car park where you could get away with a picnic; however, this attraction is more suitable for walking, spotting wildlife and engaging in water leisure activities.
What wildlife does this attraction offer?
The reservoir is well stocked with Bream, Carp, Perch, Roach and Pike. The open water attracts large numbers of Black-headed and Lesser Slack-backed Gulls and in the summer, Common Terns. Other water birds include Great Crested Grebe, Coot, Moorhen, Tufted Duck and Mallard Duck, with Pied and Grey Wagtail along the water’s edge.
Tree species include Beech, Common Lime, Poplar, Oak and Sycamore, with a few Ash and an occasional Hornbeam and Horse Chestnut. In spring, there are carpets of Daffodil and Crocus. The woodland attracts Treecreepers, Great Spotted Woodpeckers, and Tawny Owls in addition to common garden and parkland birds .
How do I get to this attraction?
There are no railway stations nearby unless you are planning a fair walk from Five Ways on the edge of Birmingham city centre. There are bus stops outside the entrance to the Midland Sailing Club on Icknield Port Road. It’s a busy route with buses going to and from Birmingham, check the timetables for more info.
There is a car park, but it is currently closed due to concerns of anti-social behaviour. If travelling by car, it’s best to park on Osler Road. There are no restrictions, and the southern end of the road does not contain any houses.
History of Edgbaston Reservoir
The reservoir was originally a small pool called Roach Pool; however, it was enlarged by Thomas Telford and took the name Rotton Park Reservoir. The need for enlarging the original pool arose when Telford was hired to improve the BCN Main Line between 1824 and 1829. The proprietors of the many coalfields and manufactories that dotted the original canal were keen to secure an abundant water source for the Smethwick summit in Galton Valley to keep the line fully operational.
The reservoir was created by damming the existing stream that supplied the original pool with an earth embankment, which is located next to the Icknield Port Loop, a section of the original BCN Main Line bypassed by Telford’s newer and wider canal.
A feeder connects the reservoir to the loop below. Edgbaston is one of the few reservoirs built during the Industrial Revolution to retain its original brick-built and iron-domed valve house, which controls the feeder . Located along the loop is a narrowboat maintenance yard, which contains a late 19th century hand-powered crane made out of cast iron,  stables , and the old Superintendent’s Office . All structures are Grade II listed.
The reservoir is supplied with rainfall and water from Titford Pools to the north via a piped aqueduct connected to the Tat Bank feeder. Another feeder from the reservoir supplies the Engine Arm Aqueduct and canal, which is connected to the Smethwick summit.
The reservoir was completed in 1828. It was reported in 1830 to be the largest sheet of water in the neighbourhood of Birmingham .
In 1851, the land surrounding the reservoir was sold to Joseph Gillott, an industrialist who had grown wealthy from the manufacture of pen nibs. Gillott intended to develop the area as an upper middle-class residential district. He sold off plots of land for houses until the whole estate was resold, which forms the current residential area of Rotton Park . Gillott Road is named after Joseph.
The reservoir is now called Edgbaston Reservoir, which is a bit misleading because it is located near Edgbaston, not in Edgbaston.
There’s a colour photo of the reservoir taken in 1967 in the University of Birmingham Repository. It shows how much the Birmingham skyline has changed, gone are the chimneys, up go the apartment blocks.
|Capacity||322,000,000 gallons (1,463,800 m3)|
|Top water area||64 acres (0.26 km²)|
|Total depth||42 ft (12.8 m)|
|Dam length||383 yards (350 m)|
|Dam height||46 ft in height (14 m)|
The reservoir site is over 70 acres  with belts of woodland around the southern and western banks. The earth embankment has a puddled clay core .
- Historic England (2020) Lodge To Rotton Park Reservoir. Available at: https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1234110 (Accessed: 6 December 2020).
- Birmingham City Council – Information Board
- Falconer, K. (2017) ‘Canal and River Navigations National Overview: an appraisal of the heritage and archaeology of England’s present and former inland navigable waterways’, Research Report Series, No. 28-2017, Available at: https://research.historicengland.org.uk/Report.aspx?i=15602 (Accessed: 6 December 2020).
- Historic England (2020) Crane At Rotton Park Loop Canal Maintenance Yard. Available at: https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1234114 (Accessed: 6 December 2020).
- Historic England (2020) Stables At Rotton Park Loop Canal Maintenance Yard. Available at: https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1276288 (Accessed: 6 December 2020).
- Historic England (2020) Superintendent’s Office At Rotton Park Loop Canal Maintenance Yard. Available at: https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1234112 (Accessed: 6 December 2020).
- Beilby, Knott, and Beilby (1830) An Historical and Descriptive Sketch of Birmingham; With Some Account of its Environs and Forty-Four Views of The Principal Public Buildings. Birmingham: Thomas Knott, Jun. Printer.
- Elliott, M. (2019) The Story of Rotton Park. Studley: Brewin Books Ltd.
- Birmingham City Council (2020) Edgbaston Reservoir. Available at: https://www.birmingham.gov.uk/reservoir (Accessed: 6 December 2020).
- Weaver, P. (1986) ‘Some Interesting Data on the Birmingham Canal Navigations’, Journal of the Railway and Canal Historical Society, 28(7), pp. 278-303. DOI: ISSN 0033 8834.