Meeting - May 2012

Friday, 25 May 2012 - 7:30pm
The Scarborough of the Midlands
Valerie Tonks

Earlswood circa 1900 - a slideshow


We were particularly pleased to welcome to our May meeting Mrs Valery Tonks of the Earlswood Historical Society to give a talk entitled “Earlswood, the Scarborough of the Midlands”.

Most people living in north Worcestershire and the Solihull area of course know of the Earlswood lakes and many will realise that they are not natural lakes but are the result of the long earth dam running across a valley, once known as The Warren, along the line of Valley Road. The three lakes comprising the Earlswood reservoirs were created by the Birmingham to Stratford Canal Company once the canal, Stared in 1797, had reach a point where the it started its fall towards Stratford. From this point onward locks were required and these in turn needed large amounts of water every time a boat passed through them, hence the need, in 1821, for the Earlswood reservoirs.

By the mid 1800’s railways were supplanting canals in the transportation of goods and the canals began to fall into decline and many canals, the Stratford company included were in fact taken over by railway companies. The railways not only transported goods but also people.

By the end of the 19th century the industrial workforce of Birmingham and the surrounding districts were becoming more prosperous and the lakes at Earlswood, now easily reached by railway offered an interesting and pleasant day out in the country and the people of Earlswood did everything they could to attract such trade. Cafe’s, public houses, restaurants and even amusement parks sprang up to accommodate these visitors. Mrs Tonks gave us a detailed insight into those early day and mentioned places such as The Mount Pleasure Park at Cheswick green, an area now covered entirely by houses, and Archer’s Farm which was on the corner of the Stratford Road and Marshall lake Road and offered meals and afternoon teas. Archer’s farm eventually became Archers Garage and now the whole site is a Retail Park.

Interestingly, since the 1960’s the canal has had a new lease of life with leisure boating and the water in the lakes, although still used for leisure and pleasure is, once again, necessary for the success of the Stratford canal.

Brian Sadler