Joy's Wood

Joy's Wood - New Life in a Lost Valley

Joy’s Wood is the youngest part of the reserve with a very different history to Moseley Bog. The area is ‘made ground’ which was created when huge amounts of waste material were dumped in the natural valley of the Coldbath Brook. Despite this difficult history the area today is a haven of created grassland and woodland which supports numerous plants and animals.

100 years ago the site was a part of the valley of the Coldbath Brook, which has its source in modern-day King’s Heath and flows east into the River Cole at Sarehole. The brook supplied water to the mill at Sarehole, and also to a mill called Lady Mill, located opposite the present-day entrance to the reserve on Yardley Wood Road.

The land was purchased by Birmingham City Council in 1935, and over the decades that followed it was filled with an assortment of materials, including building rubble arising from the clearance of city slums. The Coldbath Brook was hidden in an underground pipe which still emerges at the foot of the steps descending from Joy’s Wood into Moseley Bog.

In the 1960s the land was ‘capped’ and used as playing fields. However, poor drainage and the occasional tendency for a protruding brick to interfere with the sliding tackle of the eager footballer made the area inappropriate for this use.

In 1980 plans were announced to build 22 detached houses on land in Moseley Bog. This sparked a ‘Save Our Bog’ campaign led by local resident Joy Fifer, which culminated in 1986 with the City Council preventing the development by purchasing a section of the land.

In the following year volunteers planted native trees and shrubs on the former playing fields: Joy’s Wood was born! 

    In 1999 the area of meadow, hedgerow and woodland which had briefly been playing fields was named Joy’s Wood after Joy Fifer, in recognition of her vital role in saving the reserve from development. Joy was awarded the MBE in 2001 in recognition of her services to nature conservation.
    The blocks of young woodland in Joy’s Wood were planted by local residents in the late 1980s. With the help of the Moseley Bog volunteers the Wildlife Trust are improving these for wildlife by adding wildflower seeds collected from Moseley Bog and by managing the trees using traditional techniques.
    The Performance Area makes a perfect outdoor classroom, performance space or informal meeting area.
    In 1984 the first ever International Dawn Chorus Day was held in the reserve and broadcast live around the world on the BBC World Service. Visit the site at different times of the day and year to see the wonderful variety of birds, including goldfinch, jay, tree-creeper, tawny owl and many more.
    The created grasslands of Joy’s Wood are managed in the same way as traditional countryside meadows. This benefits wildflowers and the insects that feed upon them. The Wildlife Trust periodically carries out ‘diversification’ of the grassland when we add new plant species.
    The campaign to save Moseley Bog inspired local conservationists to found the Urban Wildlife Group. Years later this became The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham & the Black Country, the first Wildlife Trust in the country to serve a wholly urban area.