River Cole, West Midlands

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This article is about the River Cole in the West Midlands, go to River Cole, Wiltshire for the other river.
River Cole, Coleshill - geograph.org.uk - 159500.jpg
The river in Coleshill
Country England
Main source Kings Norton, West Midlands, and Wythall, Worcestershire
52°21′40″N 1°53′14″W / 52.36111°N 1.88722°W / 52.36111; -1.88722
River mouth Confluence with the River Blythe at Ladywalk reserve
52°31′5″N 1°41′20″W / 52.51806°N 1.68889°W / 52.51806; -1.68889Coordinates: 52°31′5″N 1°41′20″W / 52.51806°N 1.68889°W / 52.51806; -1.68889
Physical characteristics
Length 25 miles (40 km)
Wooden bridge over the Cole at Shirley, drawn in the 19th century by Samuel Rostill Lines.

The River Cole is a 25 miles (40 km) river in the English Midlands. It rises on the lower slopes of Forhill, one of the south-western ramparts of the Birmingham Plateau, at Hob Hill, near Wythall; and flows largely north-east across the plateau to enter the River Blythe below Coleshill, near Ladywalk, shortly before the Blythe meets the Tame. This then joins the Trent,[1] whose waters reach the North Sea via the Humber Estuary. Its source is very near the main watershed of Midland England : tributaries are few and very short except in the lower reaches, so the Cole is only a small stream.[2]


Average gradient of the central reaches is 10 1/2 feet in a mile. There is a fast run-off from the drift covered Keuper marl clay [3] which makes up its catchment area, and heavy rain produces sudden floods; in the absence of replenishing side-streams these subside as quickly as they rise. The Cole is normally shallow, except where weirs maintain an artificial depth.[2]


Its bears a Celtic name derived from the old British word for hazel.[4] In a charter of AD 972 of Pershore Abbey [5] the river throughout Yardley is 'Colle'. It has since borne several different local names:[2]

Year Name
972 Colle
1275 Maerebroc (Boundary Brook)
1495 Water of Cowle
1609 Water of Cole
1649 Inkford Brook (south of Yardley)
18th century Hemill, Hay Mill Brook
18th century Low Brook (south of Yardley)
18th century Greet Brook

Description of the course[edit]

A southern tributary rises in fields at Hob Hill, its course runs through farm land and is then joined in the vicinity of the aptly named Watery Lane by a northern tributary which rises in Redhill and crosses Kings Norton golf club. The combined river then is bridged by the A435, Alcester Road by the Horse and Jockey Public House from where it crosses fields to the east of Wythall before passing under an aqueduct for the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal on Peterbrook Road at Major's Green. Skirting to the west of Shirley and passing the site and former mill pond of Bache Mill, it is joined on its eastern bank by the Shirley Brook which forms the boundary between Birmingham and Solihull.

Shire Country Park[edit]

Main article: Shire Country Park
Four Arches Bridge, near Cole Valley Road, Billesley

The Shire Country Park consists of the Millstream Way following the course of the River Cole from Yardley Wood to Small Heath and includes the following sites: Scribers Lane SINC, Trittiford Mill Pool, The Dingles, Chinn Brook Recreation Ground, Sarehole Mill Recreation Ground, Moseley Bog LNR, Burbury Brickworks, The John Morris Jones Walkway and Cocksmoor BMX.[6]

River Cole´s race to Sarehole Mill formerly went under Brook Lane in a culvert, but this has been blocked and the line of the race is lost to northward. The spillway from race to river is seen to be still there, and the slots for the removable plank weir can be seen.[2] The riverside walk continues as the John Morris Jones Walkway past the site of Robin Hood Lane ford, across Cotterills Meadow which has been Colebank Playing Field for the last ninety years until it reaches the Grade II Listed water mill, Sarehole Mill at Hall Green.[7] The Coldbath Brook, a tributary of the Cole, drives the mill which is now a museum and one of the inspirations for J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. The Shire Country Park ranger office is located at Sarehole Mill.

Kingfisher country park[edit]

Passing under Hay Mills bridge it crosses the A45, Coventry Road and from here eleven kilometres of the river and the Cole Valley are protected by the Kingfisher Country Park.[8] The river now skirts south east of Birmingham city centre and, passing under the M6 motorway at Chelmsley Wood, heads north east again towards Coleshill, to which it gave its name.

The river has the potential to flood during heavy rain and the Stratford Roads' Greet Mill ford shows how treacherous the river could be after heavy rain as the assizes rolls of 1275 record that, Roger Fullard wishing to cross the water with his cart at the mill of Greet, by the flooding water, he and his horses were drowned.[3] Babbs Mill Lake was created to balance the effect.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "B&BC BAP - Rivers and Streams Habitat Action Plan". Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country. Retrieved 5 September 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d The Waters of Yardley John Morris Jones
  3. ^ a b Victor Skipp, Medieval Yardley, Phillimore, 1970, p.31. ISBN 0900592079
  4. ^ E.Ekwal, Dictionary of English Place Names, 4th edn. 1960 p116
  5. ^ H. P. R. Finberg, The Early Charters of the West Midlands, 1961, p117
  6. ^ "The Shire Country Park". Birmingham City Council. Retrieved 10 February 2015. 
  7. ^ "The Shire Country Park". Birmingham City Council. Retrieved 5 September 2011. 
  8. ^ "Kingfisher Country Park". Birmingham City Council. Retrieved 5 September 2011. 

External links[edit]

Media related to River Cole, West Midlands at Wikimedia Commons