Welcome to the Cannon Hill discovery trail. There are markers on the map that are points of cultural and heritage significance. Click on them for a brief desciption. More information is available on the tabs, click on them to explore the heritage of your park.


View Cannon Hill Friends Discovery Map in a larger map
1. ICE AGE BOULDER

It is claimed that the Cannon Hill boulder was deposited from an ice flow that originated in the Arenig Mountains of Wales. This particular boulder was discovered during the excavation of the lake.

But are there really signs of an Ice Age or desert in our parks and green spaces? Well yes there are – in Cannon Hill Park the story is that the stone boulder was left behind by the glacier which cut out the Rea Valley, and elsewhere in the region we find dramatic change in the landscape shown by local stone.

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Red stone in local buildings from a past desert in Warwickshire show the voyage of discovery undergone by building materials like limestone flint and volcanic stone, but we can also find small quarries, cave systems and other places where the earth moved and formed our local landscape – like Wrens Nest park near Dudley where signs of the giant Midland lake inhabited by exotic sea life and dinosaurs can be found.

This requires more investigation with an Earth Sciences Detective.

Meanwhile go to
2. Missing Pieces of the Town Hall, for some more City History involving Welsh stone and fossils over 3 million years old, plus a fishy fossil story.
2. MISSING PIECES OF THE TOWN HALL

Recognised as one of the most impressive examples of Roman Revival civic architecture, the style of Birmingham Town Hall is based upon the Roman Temple of Castor and Pollux.
It was designed by Joseph Aloyisus Hansom, who is better known as the creator of the famous ‘Hansom cab’ and opened in 1834.
The stone with which it was built is popularly known as Anglesey Marble and is a white carboniferous limestone. It was originally quarried in north Wales, with the stone shipped 80 miles by sea and 100 miles by canal to Birmingham.
Fossils are present in it, some as large as the palm of your hand, and include fish skeletons to be seen on a column which was broken as it was being removed in 1891. It is now in the courtyard of St Phillips Cathedral. And the pediments which stood on the top of the two columns removed were brought to the City Park.

They were removed from the back of the Town Hall in 1891 when the Stage needed extending and the Organ was built.

This requires more investigation with a Fossils Detective.
Cannon Hill Park Friends and St Phillips Cathedral are
both members of
http://www.birminghamheritage.org.uk/

Meanwhile go to
3. Bridge Over the Rea, and 4. The Red Carriage Bridge for some more City Architecture History.
3. PARK BRIDGE OVER THE RIVER REA

The West Gate Entrance to the Park is over the River Rea by a bridge which was designed by William Joseph Haywood (1876–1957) an architect and Secretary of the Birmingham Civic Society for over thirty years, being a founder member in 1918.

From 1900, he was a practicing architect who designed in stained glass, wrought iron and cast lead. But he also produced many schemes for re-planning the city, and published his ideas in The Development of Birmingham (1918), which included improvements to New Street Station , a grand ‘People’s Hall’ located close to where the Central Fire Station now stands, pleasure grounds and Zoological Gardens around Edgbaston Reservoir and the City’s Celebrations for King George 5
th’s Coronation. The Dome Room at the Birmingham Art Gallery presents one of the many ambitions that Haywood had for the growing metropolitan City. Many of his dreams may not have come to fruition, but the current plans for the re-design of New Street Station incorporate a large central hall, lit by natural light from above and combine this with a large grand entrance from Hill Street which is very similar to the plans Haywood produced in 1918.

William Haywood loved Cannon Hill Park and lived nearby at 245 Bristol Road, from 1915 to his death in 1957.

Birmingham Civic Society were once influential in the City Parks movement. The Civic Trust established the national Green Flag Award, now led by Greenspace.

Meanwhile go to
4. The Red Carriage Bridge for some more City Architecture History.
4. RED CARRIAGE BRIDGE

The Red Carriage Bridge does not appear on the first Plan of the Park in 1873, but was added when the Lakes were extended as well as the Main Drive through to the Queens Ride and Pershore Road entrance.

Information given to the Park Friends by the Victorian Society shows that the Red Carriage Bridge was built by John Bowen and Sons who also built the City Law Courts.
The Grade I listed building, in Corporation Street, will become redundant in 2012 when Her Majesty’s Court Services moves down the road to a new home because it no longer meets building regulation standards.
The deep red terracotta coloured building was started in Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee year in 1887 and opened in 1891.
Birmingham’s new court will be an £81 million purpose-built centre at the Masshouse Development at the gateway to Eastside.
Historian and Birmingham Mail columnist Carl Chinn said: “It’s a magnificent building and it must not be mothballed. This has to be looked at seriously, the building must have a specific purpose and it should be open for the people of Birmingham to use and to enjoy.”
The brickwork on the Bridge is now in need of Heritage Conservation for appreciation of the City building history.

Apart from the Carriage Bridge, the most photographed monument in the Park is 5. The South African War Memorial.
5. SOUTH AFRICAN WAR MEMORIAL

This Memorial, to 521 Soldiers from Birmingham who died in the South African war of 1900, was designed in 1906 by Albert Toft. He was a sculptor who worked for Wedgwood’s and whose works may be seen in Birmingham Art Museum. His other public sculptures include Queen Victoria’s Memorial in Nottingham, the National War Memorial in Cardiff and the six bronze figures around the Hall of Memory in Centenary Square.

Between the Floral Borders and Rose Garden visited by wedding parties, this Memorial is another of the photographic memories taken away by people from their visit to Cannon Hill Peoples Park.

The Park encourages people to share their photos and peoples history, and we recently received a copy of the Memorial Opening Ceremony programme from 1906 which can be seen in the Garden Tea Room. Old photos also show cannons captured in the Crimean War at the entrance to Calthorpe Park. That Park was at first only open to the public at weekends, and was also used by the Royal Warwickshire Regiment and Birmingham Volunteers for drill and exercise.

Cannon Hill Meadows Farm, where Louisa Ryland and John Gibson created the Peoples Park, is believed to be named from the Civil War and local Garrison of Parliamentary troops under Colonel John Fox.

For the park in Tudor history and the part played by the Birmingham peoples churches, and mills see: 6. The Golden Lion House. Also the Five Mills Trail in the Park – available at the Park Centre and Tea Room.
6. THE GOLDEN LION TUTOR HOUSE

In Tudor times there were around two hundred houses in the town of Birmingham squeezed into a fairly small area. The town was centred on the Bull Ring and comprised the streets Digbeth and Deritend on either side of the River Rea, and on higher ground St Martin’s, Edgbaston Street, High Street, Moor Street and the lower end of New Street. All the buildings would have been timber-framed, but only the Old Crown in Deritend and the more typical Golden Lion house in Cannon Hill Park now survive.

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This picture (from 1731) shows the Church of St John and the timber framed house of the Clergy, also used as a school for the Guild of St. John the Baptist of Deritend which was moved to the Park in 1911 as a community memorial to the early town history. High St now joins Digbeth and Deritend.

This picture (from 1731) shows the Church of St John and the timber framed house of the Clergy, also used as a school for the Guild of St. John the Baptist of Deritend which was moved to the Park in 1911 as a community memorial to the early town history. High St now joins Digbeth and Deritend.

A famous son of Deritend and Birmingham who worshipped at St John's was John Rogers. He became a priest working with William Tyndale and Miles Coverdale translating the Bible into English. For his protestant views he was burnt at the stake at Smithfield on 4 February 1555, the first protestant martyr under Queen Mary.

For more history of the Local Landscape see also the
Five Mills Trail around the Park – available at the Park
Information Centre and Tea Room.
7. JOHN GIBSON PARK & GARDENS PLAQUE

Cannon Hill Park, previously Cannon Hill Meadows Farm, was given to the city by Louisa Ann Ryland the daughter of Samuel Ryland a Birmingham manufacturer. The park was designed and laid out by John Gibson (1815-75), (below) who worked with Joseph Paxton (1803-65) at Chatsworth, Derbyshire. He was Paxton’s assistant on the design of Birkenhead Park, and as a Superintendent of Royal Parks he remodelled Battersea Park including the Sub-Tropical Garden and London’s first peoples Park. He also worked with Paxton on the Great Exhibition and Crystal Palace in Hyde Park with displays of Victorian achievement.

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John Gibson was born in Castle Bromwich, but was a national influence on Public Park design both as a Botanist and with the Parks movement, which spread to America through Frederick Olmsted’s visit to Britain in 1840. Olmsted went on to design New York’s Central Park and state public park systems in North West America.

John Gibson was born in Castle Bromwich, but was a national influence on Public Park design both as a Botanist and with the Parks movement, which spread to America through Frederick Olmsted’s visit to Britain in 1840. Olmsted went on to design New York’s Central Park and state public park systems in North West America.

The 35 acres also devoted to ornamental gardens and shrub borders was laid out with plants and seeds donated by Royal Gardens at Kew, as well as Glasgow and Liverpool City to establish the Park collection, and included a Students Garden for botanical studies. The Park Glasshouse presently holds the National Codeium Collection, shared by Birmingham and Liverpool Plants & Nurseries.
8. LOCAL MILLS AND LANDSCAPE CHANGE

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9. PARK LIDO AND PADDLING POOLS

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10. ELAN VALLEY HERITAGE LINKS

At the turn of the 20th Century, the face of the Elan Valley in Radnorshire changed for ever as work began on a project to create a series of dams supplying water to Birmingham. Around 100 people had to leave the area as homes, farms, a school and a church were demolished to make way for the new reservoirs. The Elan Valley Dams were officially opened on 21 July 1904 by King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra. To mark the centenary in 2004, local people organised a series of special events.

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Park Friends are working with Community Arts Rhayader and District – CARAD. The historical link between the Elan Valley Water Works and the City of Birmingham and its inhabitants will be developed with great potential for exchange of exhibitions, educational work and visits between schools.

In 1890 Local supplies of water could not keep pace with the ever-growing demands of industry and domestic users : by 1890 deep wells and reservoirs on rivers and canals were supplying 20 million gallons daily but this was insufficient. A plan for water from Wales was adopted. Work began in Cwmdeuddwr (Elan / Claerwen valleys) in 1892 and twelve years later soft pure water began to flow in two 42-inch pipelines 75 miles through Frankley and Edgbaston into the City. It travels under gravity and takes a day and a half to get here.

In the corner of Cannon Hill Park there is a working model of the Elan Valley Dams and Reservoirs, with the history of Birmingham Water Works on a display