The Rea Valley Conservation Group has been around for nearly twenty five years.
For many years it was the only campaigning conservation group in the river valley.  It campaigned
vigorously for the creation of a linear country park along the Rea Valley and the Group was heavily
involved in the ‘Raise the Rea’ campaign both to heighten public awareness of Birmingham’s River
and to visually expose it through Digbeth.
Peter Childs, the first Chair of the Group, and Harry Reeves the doyen of Rea Valley history led the
campaigns. Although they met with no immediate success, I believe the campaigning activities of
the Rea Valley Conservation Group did raise official and public awareness of the valley as an area
worthy of protection for leisure use and a valuable wild life corridor.

In more recent years nature reserves have been established along the valley looked after by Friends
Groups notably at Kings Norton and Frankley. Other Friends Groups are now being formed to look
after green spaces in the valley.
The Rea Valley Conservation Group has the responsibility of managing for nature a short stretch of
the river side in Northfield Village at Coleys Lane and work groups operate on the first and third
Saturdays of the month from 10 -  12noon. Water quality testing is undertaken for the Environment Agency.

Our Group has also organized litter picks in the valley in areas where litter and rubbish has accumulated
over long periods. These  events are run in association with the Parks Ranger Service which provides
logistical back up and with the assistance of local residents who are notified of the litter pick by the
distribution of flyers. Our Group has a programme of events and meetings and our publications are
Harry Reeve’s booklet, ‘Ode To a Secret River’ and Cyril Ashmore’s series of  ‘Rea Valley Walks’.

The River side can be walked for much of the middle and upper reaches of the valley from the source of
the Rea on the Waseley Hills as far as Edgbaston just south of the City Centre. By then the river has
been heavily engineered for flood prevention reasons and flows in a deep  open culvert eventually largely
disappearing  from view through the industrial archaeology of Digbeth before entering the River Tame just
below Spaghetti Junction. The waters of the Rea eventually enter the North Sea via the Trent and Humber.

The waters of the Rea’s sister River the Arrow rise on the Lickey Hills and flow into the Avon and Severn
Rivers and so into the Bristol Channel. There is a spot on the municipal golf course at the foot of the
Lickeys where, after very wet weather, water flows one way south to the Arrow and the Bristol Channel
and one way North to the Rea and  the North Sea.
The chief tributaries of the Rea are the Callow Brook, Merritts Brook and Bournbrook, Together they
constitute a considerable risk of flooding and alleviation measures are to be seen from the upper reaches
all down the valley.

The Rea Valley was ice covered during the Anglian glacial advance 400,000 years ago.When the ice sheet
retreated the material left behind included great boulders weighing up to ten tons. These can be discovered
all over the valley but notably in the Bournville area.  The  true home of the boulders is a hundred miles away
in the mountains of North Wales. Iconic, but unmarked boulders, can also be viewed in Cannon Hill Park
and Northfield Village centre. 

The Rea has been called the Mother of Birmingham because it gave rise to the city as an industrial centre.
The River proved suitable for water power and early mills were built at Digbeth. The River has cut a deep bed
and roads cross it rather than run along it. For this reason it is still a secret river, even local people do not
know it is there. It is there to discover and to share with the Kingfishers.