Swanshurst

B13 - Grid reference SP091815

Swaneshurst: first record 1221

Swanshurst Farm just before demolition - origin of image unknown.
Swanshurst Farm just before demolition - origin of image unknown.

This is Old English swan (or swannhyrst meaning 'swain's (ie. peasant's) wooded hill', possibly 'swan's hill'; it may possibly derive from a surname. Common pasture here dates from the Middle Ages and was described as waste in 1577. The name has localised use around Swanshurst Park.

 

Swanshurst Common is shown on the 1847 Yardley tithe map around the junction of Swanshurst Lane with Yardley Wood Road. Coldbath Road. Until the tithe apportionment this would have been open land over which commoners had rights of grazing. 


Swanshurst Farm stood off what is now Swanshurst Park from medieval times; it was probably an assart on land belonging to Maxstoke Priory. A new timber-framed wing was added to the original medieval hall c1600 and a brick wing was added in Stuart times when the rest of the house was also encased in brick. There were extensive outbuildings.

 

After nearly 300 years of occupancy by the Dolphin family,with the death on 1834 of John Dolphin the buildings were rented out as tenements. By this time the house was a in a bad state of repair and the tenements can have been little better than slum dwellings. The Stuart brick wing collapsed and the house was vacated.

 

For 30 years the empty building deteriorated until 1906 when a solicitor, Stanbury Eardley lived in its ruin. After his death in 1917 the house was demolished, though some of the timbers were rescued to be used used decoratively in the building of a new house also named Swanshurst in Russell Road. The remaining barns were demolished in 1920 when housing on Swanshurst Lane was about to be built. 

 

Swanshurst Farm was demolished to make way in the 1920s for the houses which still stand on Swanshurst Lane.

 

Swanshurst Pool in Swanshurst Park has had various names: Grove Pool, Moseley New Pool and Swanshurst Slade Pool. It was made c1759 by Henry Giles as a fishpond by constructing an earth dam across the valley of a tiny brook which used to rise near the top of Brook Lane. A fish hatchery was dug beside the dam.

 

Swanshurst Park, viewed from Swanshurst Lane
Swanshurst Park, viewed from Swanshurst Lane

 

The name 'Moseley' derives from the fact that it was the property of the Grevis family of Moseley. It was called 'New' Pool to distinguish it from three pools on adjacent Coldbath Brook. The 'Grove' is the clump of beech trees on the north bank. In 1922 the City bought some of the fields of Ivyhouse Farm and Swanshurst Pool from the Taylor family in order to lay out Swanshurst Park. The farmhouse stood in Oakcroft Road. In the 1930s the dam collapsed and was rebuilt with a central outflow.


Near the junction of Yardley Wood Road and Swanshurst Lane is Coldbath Pool, a fishpond at the east end of Moseley Golf Course. The valley of Coldbath Brook/ Bulley Brook, which rises near the top of Cambridge Road in Kings Heath, was dammed to make four main pools and a number of ponds. At 2½ hectares Coldbath Pool was the largest, but has since silted up to half that size. It was owned by the Grevises of Moseley until 1766 when John Taylor bought the lordship and lands. Part of the lakeside was bought for Moseley Golf Course in 1892, and the remainder purchased between 1902 and 1919.


Lady Mill also known as Greethurst, Holtes or Coldbath Mill was powered by Coldbath Brook also known as Bulley Brook or Greethurst Brook. It stood east of Yardley Wood Road off Swanshurst Lane and was in use 1437 until c1830, from the 17th century for wire-drawing. The name Lady Mill may refer to St Mary's Church, Moseley. The millpool was west of Yardley Wood Road and east of Coldbath Pool. A fishpond survives on the west side of the road at the east end of Moseley Golf Course. When the corn mill went over to wire drawing a post mill for corn grinding was built on the knoll downstream.

 

William Dargue 07.03.09/ 23.10.10

 

 

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For 19th-century Ordnance Survey maps of Birmingham go to British History Online.

See http://www.british-history.ac.uk/mapsheet.aspx?compid=55194&sheetid=10126&ox=1501&oy=2146&zm=2&czm=2&x=158&y=375