The brooks are natural; the lakes were created at the end of the 19th century to supply drinking water for Birmingham. They were then in the countryside, and the water relatively clean. Industrialisation and urban sprawl led to the water no longer being fit for drinking, so the city turned to the Elan Valley in Wales for a supply.
The lakes are now maintained as a leisure amenity by Birmingham City Council. One is used for model boating and the other nature conservation. The north Birmingham cycle route runs through the surrounding park.