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Lickey Hills Country Park History
The Lickey Hills Country Park is one of the oldest parks managed by Birmingham. The first records of people in the area date back to the stone age when a Neolithic hunter lost a flint arrow head on Rednal Hill (on view at Birmingham Museum) and a flint scraping tool was found in the area near the Monument.
The next evidence of occupation brings us to the Romans. They constructed a road over the Hills (adjacent to Rose Hill). They used this route to transport salt, amongst other goods, between their camps at Worcester and Metchley (near where Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital now stands).
The Norman invasion brought great changes to the local area. The Lickeys formed part of the royal Manor of Bromsgrove and were set aside as a royal hunting reserve. As well as stocking the area with deer, the Normans introduced rabbits to the area. These were kept in large enclosures, or 'warrens' hence the road and place names. The word 'forest' means 'place of deer' rather than trees.
The Manor was sold by the crown in 1682 to the Earl of Plymouth. He resided at Hewell Grange, Tardebigge and his family owned the land for the next 250 years. The Earls managed the land and the local populace.
During the reign of Queen Victoria, there was to be much development in the area with the arrival of the railway and the building of schools and churches. Land around Twatling Road was sold off for 'large domestic development'. Barnt Green grew to service these dwellings.
In 1888 the Birmingham Society for the Preservation of Open Spaces purchased Rednal Hill and handed to the City in trust. They also arranged for Pinfield Wood and Bilberry Hill to be leased on a peppercorn (nominal) rent.
In 1904, J.R.R Tolkien of 'The Hobbit' fame, moved to Rednal with his mother, who was convalescing. The hills became a favourite haunt and are the inspiration for the mythical Shires, where the hobbits lived in his book.
The City finally purchased Cofton Hill, Lickey Warren and Pinfield Wood in 1920. With the purchase of the Rose Hill Estate from the Cadbury family in 1923, free public access was restored to the hills.
For many Birmingham and Black Country people, the Lickey Hills were a traditional day out. Trams took the crowds from the inner city to Rednal. Stories tell of queues as far back as the golf course on busy Sundays as people waited for the trams to take them home.
The Lickey Hills were designated a Country Park in 1971 and the Visitor Centre was completed in 1990. The park now welcomes over 500,000 visitors a year and remains one of the most picturesque locations in the midlands