The River Rea - A Birmingham Gem!

The River Rea is a small river with big significance as it was the river on which Birmingham is believed to have been founded by the Beorma tribe in the 7th century.


The River Rea starts as a trickle from the Waseley Hills Country Park, and flows into Birmingham via Longbridge, Kings Norton, and on to Edgbaston and Digbeth, before heading towards Spaghetti Junction.

River Rea Waseley Hills

The River Rea map at the Source of the River Rea, Waseley Hills Country Park (June 2020). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

 

The River Rea at the Waseley Hills Country Park

The River Rea starts as a trickle at the Waseley Hills Country Park. Near Rubery in Worcestershire. Before the river starts to form and heads east towards Longbridge.

River Rea Waseley Hills

The Source of the River Rea at the Waseley Hills Country Park (June 2020). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

The River Rea at Austin Park in Longbridge

When the former MG Rover / Austin Works site was redeveloped, the River Rea became a prominent landmark at the new Austin Park in Longbridge. It enters the park from the Bristol Road South, and leaves it through a tunnel (under the new Longbridge Town Centre) that heads towards Northfield, alongside the Cross City Line.

River Rea Austin Park

The River Rea at Austin Park in Longbridge (November 2013). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

The River Rea at The Mill Walk, Northfield

On The Mill Walk in Northfield, towards the Austin Village, the River Rea goes through a ford. The road is open to traffic, but there is also a footbridge here for pedestrians and cyclists. It's near Rea Road and Mill Lane. Beyond here is a railway bridge that carries the Cross City Line, and beyond that the Austin Village.

River Rea The Mill Walk NorthfieldRiver Rea at The Mill Walk, Northfield (April 2012). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

The River Rea in Northfield

In Northfield the River Rea flows to the west of the Cross City Line, along Rea Road and Mill Lane. It is close to the Austin Village here. Cyclists and walkers alike can get onto the Rea Valley Route from Tessall Lane. The River Rea goes under the Cross City Line in a tunnel then heads towards Kings Norton. This was also the site of Northfield Mill. It existed since at least the 18th Century and was demolished in 1958. It was a working corn mill.

River Rea Northfield

The River Rea in Northfield (April 2012). Photography by Elliott Brown


The River Rea in Kings Norton

Heading east from Northfield via Wychall (passing the Wychall Reservoir), the River Rea enters Kings Norton Park at Westhill Road. It flows to the south east before leaving at the Pershore Road South, then heads north east past the Kings Norton Playing Fields. It then crosses under the Worcester & Birmingham Canal, and heads north past Lifford Reservoir, towards Brandwood and Stirchley.

River Rea Kings Norton

River Rea at Kings Norton Park from Westhill Road (February 2016). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

The River Rea in Stirchley

In Stirchley, the River Rea passes the Camp Hill Line and heads north towards Fordhouse Lane. The paths here are also part of the Rea Valley Route for cyclists and walkers. The river continues north, passing Hazelwell Park, towards Cartland Road. It continues to head north towards Selly Park and Moor Green Lane.

River Rea Stirchley

The River Rea in Stirchley at Fordhouse Lane (January 2011). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

The River Rea at Selly Park

A new road bridge was built on Moor Green Lane in Selly Park between Dogpool Lane and Dads Lane. After floods over the years, new flood defences were built here during 2017 and 2018, they are part of the Selly Park South flood defences. The path is part of the Rea Valley Heritage Trail. Beyond here you can enter Holders Lane Woods, and follow the route of the River Rea into Cannon Hill Park.

River Rea Selly Park

River Rea flood defences at Moor Green Lane, Selly Park (June 2018). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

The Rea Valley Route into Cannon Hill Park

There is many points of entry into Cannon Hill Park. Start from Holders Lane Woods. Or follow the path between Pebble Mill Playing Fields and Holders Lane Playing Fields. There is also footbridges over the River Rea to the main path, from near First Avenue and Second Avenue. There is another bridge as you enter Cannon Hill Park (which comes from the Pershore Road). Beyond here, the River Rea now goes past concrete walls all the way to Highgate and Digbeth. There is at least two waterfalls (or weirs) along the river down here.

Rea Valley Route into Cannon Hill Park

Rea Valley Route into Cannon Hill Park (April 2018). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

The River Rea at Cannon Hill Park

The River Rea enters Cannon Hill Park along a pair of concrete walls that runs alongside Queens Ride (the main car park) and the path that runs alongside the Boating Lake. It's more or less straight until it gets to the MAC, and heads under a pair of bridges. It then heads towards the bridge on Edgbaston Road and next passes the Cricket Ground heading north.

River Rea Cannon Hill Park

River Rea at Cannon Hill Park (December 2010). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

The River Rea at Edgbaston Cricket Ground

At Edgbaston Road, the River Rea flows north past Edgbaston Cricket Ground, home of Warwickshire Country Cricket Club. The stadium had new stands built along Edgbaston Road in 2011. There is a footbridge that leads to the stadium from the Colts Ground. Beyond here, the river passes Calthorpe Park.

River Rea Edgbaston Cricket Ground

River Rea at Edgbaston Cricket Ground (November 2009). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

The River Rea at Calthorpe Park

At Edward Road in Edgbaston, the River Rea passes Calthorpe Park. It heads in a slightly north eastern direction towards the next bridge near Speedwell Road. Before it leaves the park, and heads north towards Balsall Heath Road and onto Highgate. You can follow the river along Clevedon Road and Longmore Street towards Belgrave Middleway.

River Rea Calthorpe Park

The River Rea at Calthorpe Park (October 2019). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

The River Rea at Belgrave Middleway, Balsall Heath

The brick lined walls of the River Rea in Balsall Heath between Balsall Heath Road and Belgrave Middleway, alongside Longmore Street. Getting close to where the Beorma tribe founded Birmingham in Highgate.

River Rea Belgrave Middleway

The River Rea at Belgrave Middleway (March 2013). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

The River Rea at Gooch Street, Highgate

At Gooch Street in Highgate, the River Rea is still culverted as it heads into Birmingham City Centre. At this site in the 7th Century, it is said that the Beorma tribe founded Birmingham. The river turns west to Vaughton Street, then north east up towards Digbeth.

River Rea Gooch Street

The River Rea at Gooch Street, Highgate (March 2013). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

The River Rea in Digbeth

The culverted River Rea enters Digbeth at MacDonald Street, and heads north towards Moseley Street, Cheapside and Bradford Street. There is many derelict industrial buildings here, full of graffiti and litter. The River Rea also heads through the Connaught Square site. It is hoped to become a prominent feature of that redevelopment (if it ever happens).

River Rea Digbeth

River Rea at Cheapside, Digbeth (April 2015). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

The River Rea at the Custard Factory

From High Street Deritend in Digbeth, the River Rea flows past the Custard Factory alongside Floodgate Street. It then heads under the Bordesley Viaduct (which carries the Snow Hill Lines and Chiltern Mainline). Underneath there is a footbridge that allows to to enter the Custard Factory from Floodgate Street, passing the car park and street art towards Gibb Street. In heavy rain, the river usually floods down here. Still has a culvert down here.

River Rea Custard Factory

River Rea at the Custard Factory (August 2014). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

The River Rea at the Grand Union Canal (Digbeth Branch)

Next the River Rea passes under Fazeley Street (not too far from the Typhoo Wharf). It then heads under a Aqueduct that carries the Grand Union Canal (Digbeth Branch) over it, towards the Digbeth Branch Canal. After this, the river heads towards Montague Street, and under the viaducts that carries the railway lines in and out of Birmingham New Street Station.

River Rea Grand Union Canal

The River Rea from the aqueduct on the Grand Union Canal (Digbeth Branch) (February 2018). Photography by Elliott Brown

 

The River Rea in Vauxhall and Nechells

Heading into North Birmingham, the River Rea goes under Lawley Middleway. It then heads up to Duddeston Mill Road. It continues to go north towards the Saltley High Street. It then runs alongside the Grand Union Canal, before going under it towards Cuckoo Road near Star City. It then gets close to the Heartlands Parkway before joining onto the River Tame. This is the end of the River Rea.

Project dates

01 Mar 2021 - On-going

Passions

Environment & green action, Rivers, lakes & canals

Contact

Your Place Your Space

Jonathan Bostock

0121 410 5520
jonathan.bostock@ yourplaceyourspace.com