The Lake at Moorcroft Wood
Moorcroft Wood Local Nature Reserve is an unusual but attractive nature reserve in Moxley, Walsall. It is owned and managed by Walsall Council. The Wildlife Trust are working closely with the Council looking at ways of improving the wildlife management and access to the reserve. The Wildlife Trust is in the process of establishing an education centre in a building owned by the Council that is next to Moorcroft Wood.
Until the start of the 20th century, Moorcroft Wood Local Nature Reserve had been a mix of farmland and factories. Following the Industrial Revolution, industry had flourished on site due to the abundant coal and iron ore deposits. This industrial activity had ceased by 1904, when Wednesbury Hospital Board bought the site as the recreation grounds for the convalescing patients from Moxley Hospital. To improve the site numerous trees were planted including False Acacias and Sycamores.
As the incidence of isolation diseases such as cholera and smallpox declined, the Hospital made less use of the woodland and it became largely abandoned. In the early 1980s work started to conserve Moorcroft Wood Local Nature Reserve for wildlife and improve access for visitors. However, in 1989 the pools, which formed a large part of the site, began to loose water and drain. Long Meadow Pool dried up completely and Moorcroft Pool fell 3m below its current level. This was possibly due to nearby industrial activity. During 1998, the water began to return and by 1999 all the pools had risen to their former levels.
Moxley Hospital closed in 1995 and the hospital site was sold for housing. As a part of the sale, ownership of the wood was transferred from the West Midlands Health Authority to Walsall Council. The wood has also been declared a Local Nature Reserve, giving extra legal protection to ensure its future for wildlife and for people.
Industry at Moorcroft Wood Local Nature Reserve
The industrial history of Moorcroft Wood Local Nature Reserve has been shaped by the presence of coal seams close to the surface. The coal measures at Moorcroft Wood Local Nature Reserve contain iron ores overlain by beds of sand and clay.
Coal mining is thought to have occurred during Roman times, when shallow mines were dug to extract surface coal. This small-scale mining continued for many years until the Industrial Revolution.
The coal and iron ore were both mined extensively in the 18th and 19th centuries. At the Moorcroft Iron Works the coal and iron ore deposits were combined with limestone from Walsall and Dudley to produce pig iron in blast furnaces. The only remaining evidence of the works are the clinker rocks around the edges of Moorcroft Pool.
On the north eastern edge of the site, Murby's Brick Works produced blue bricks from the clay overlaying the coal measures.
By the beginning of the 20th century all industrial activity at Moorcroft Wood Local Nature Reserve had ceased. The low quality iron ore had become uneconomic to extract due to the high proportion of impurities it contains. The coal seams, although over 9 metres (30 feet) thick, had become too expensive to mine due to flooding and geological faulting.
Visiting the Reserve
By the Metro
Bradley Lane Metro Station is only 600 metres to the west of Moorcroft Wood.
Bus numbers 78, 263 and 680.
Further details from the Centro Hotline 0121 200 2700
If visiting by car, there are lay-bys adjacent to the road. Please park safely and courteously.
WS10 7BW (nearest)
Grid reference: SO970950
Information © and supplied by Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council