The Lake History


Construction of the Lake

In January 1822 plans were put forward to dig a reservoir at Tardebigge complete with an engine pump to feed the Worcester to Birmingham canal. The lake was intended to fill 5,000 locks with an estimated cost of £5000. 

By July 1823 the lake was nearly finished and held 3,500 locks worth of water with the new engine pump working well but severe weather caused safety concerns and it was decided to strengthen the embankment with a further cost of £1,500. In the end the embankment was raised another two times to its eventual height of 10,000 lock capacity in 1827. 

In December 1831 the Committee of Works, who were in charge of all Reservoir developments in the country, decided to add a feeder from Tardebigge Reservoir linking an exisiting culvert through the base of the embankment. This brick culvert followed the contour curving round the hill to feed the canal below the bottom gates of the lock, now numbered 43. 

The reservoir has not been changed since this date. 


Fishing and Boating

The Reservoir was stocked with fish immediately after construction by the Canal Company and landowners. From the Canal Committee minutes we learn that by 1827 Lord Windsor of Hewell Grange owned the land surrounding Tardebigge Reservoir together with the fishing rights. In 1879 the Canal Committee received a complaint from Lord Windsor that the estate had sustained a £20 loss of fish due to repairs to the dam. 

In 1860's the landlord of the Plymouth Arms, Samuel Taylor, rented the fishing rights from the Hewell Grange. In May 1861 the Bromsgrove Messenger advertised a party which was being held to launch a new paddle boat named the "Nancy Dawson" which was built for fishing purposes. The paddle boat was 15ft long, 9ft wide and took 12 passengers at a time. In 1861 to 1862 rowing boats were also available for the "excellent fishing". 


Cadburys of Bournville

On 16th June 1914 Cadbury's of Bournville took over the fishing rights on Tardebigge Reservoir for the benefit of the Bournville Athletic Club Angling Section. From 1916 to 1950, local lock keeper Jack Warner looked after the water for Cadburys. He sold permits to members of the Bournville Angling Club as well as punting members from one side of the lake to the other. The lake was very much a family environment and the wives of the employees would camp alongside the lake. Mr Warner sold pots of tea and soft drinks from his lock keepers cottage. 

In the mid 1990's British Waterways, who now owned the lake, took over the fishing rights to Tardebigge Reservoir. In 2003 Russ Guise took over the fishing rights. The lake was due for repair and it was fully drained with all the fish removed prior to Russ taking on the lease.