Chronological History of Deers Leap & the surrounding landscape
Rotton Park – recorded back in 1275; ‘rotton’ = cheerful farm; ‘park’ = not sure exactly what this looked like but certainly a landscape with woods and/or meadows.
Rotton Park Road – medieval. Part of Rotton Park Estate.
Parish – Originally = St.Martin’s, St.Thomas, & All Saint’s.
Shireland Brook – An old demarcation boundary to Park; county boundary between Staffordshire and Warwickshire.
Site served by 3 brooks – Shireland (N); Portland (W); and Shenstone (E). Rotten Park Farm was located near the junction with Fountain Road and City Road. It had a pond on the north side of City Road. From here there is a natural valley plus hedge? & Portland Brook which ran north-east through the Portland Centre under Portland Road and through into Deers Leap Wood.
Edgbaston Reservoir (& feeder) – 1825-1827 (&1832); Portland Brook diverted into feeder canal. Thomas Telford. Built as a feeder for the Birmingham Canal Navigation Company’s canal. The Feeder, built in 1832, carries water runs from Titford Pools along the Titford Branch Canal in Oldbury, via Tat Bank, and Smethwick to the Reservoir. Total length 4.5 mls; City Road feeder section is the last surviving section. There used to be two others – one behind Smethwick High Street near Church Hill; the other through Victoria Park. The Feeder is still relevant today as part of the Canal water cycle.
Portland Road – cut across the Park approx 1870.
Harborne Railway Line – 1874; major impact on area in terms of development. Despite being just under 21/4 mls long this line was the most profitable suburban railway in Birmingham, with a service of over 20 trains a day in each direction during its heyday. Independent until 1922, but operated by the London & North Western Railway (LNWR) from the outset.
Summerfield Park – 1876
Mitchell’s Brewery – 1878; first brew July 1879 (boreholes provided clean water)
City Road Junior & Infants School – 1895.
St.Germain’s Mission Hall – 1896 ‘iron mission church’.
City Road – 1897 (to commemorate when Borough of Birmingham became a city in 1889).
Mitchell joined by Butler to become M & B Brewery – 1898
Portland Road extended to the north to meet Smethwick – 1903? (But 1890 map shows extension?!).
George Dixon Grammar School – 1906; a pioneer of state education.
Brewery Branch Line – Opened 1907. Closed – 1967? First train 1st August called ‘Frankie’ followed by ‘John Barleycorn 1’ in Sept 1907. The latter plus ‘Beatrice’ did the shunting until 1920. Then work taken over by ‘Boniface’ and John Barleycorn 2’. Brought coal to Brewery as had their own coal-fired power station plus transported cask & case beers, spirits, and yeast.
St.Germain’s Church – 1914-1917.
Harborne Line closed to passengers in 1934.
Deers Leap Wood – 1985; M & B employees concerned about area. Sir Charles Derby (MD) contacted the Urban Wildlife Trust who produced a management plan and with funding from the Brewery and other charities constructed the boardwalks, paths, dam, and steps etc. 1989 – formal links with UWT ceased and Wood managed by the Friends of Deers Leap Wood affiliated to the BTCV.
Brewery closed – 6th December 2002; subsequently purchased by Persimmon Homes.
Persimmon Homes – Site clearance of vegetation, hardstanding, and much of the former railway bridge undertaken summer 2005; outline planning approval granted for approximately 350 new properties on the Birmingham side (August 2005) and 600 on the Sandwell side (December 2004). Subsequently detailed planning applications have been approved for the various phases of work. The Birmingham portion of the new estate has been officially named as ‘Deers Leap’.
On the Birmingham side the detailed planning application for the final phase of development, closest to Deers Leap Wood, went before the Council in Spring 2013.
The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham & The Black Country – As the current owners purchased Deers Leap Wood from the developers in 2013. With the help of Section 106 monies it will enable them to undertake creative landscape management work with the assistance of a part-time Trust ranger (Paul Stephenson).
1903 Ordnance Survey Map
Jan 1945 Aerial Photograph